Below are reflections from some of my classmates on their experience with Alexander Technique in the context of our studies at Nalanda:
“Several phenomena occurred over the course of the lesson which echo the expansion and development I have experienced as my meditation practice has developed. For most of my life, I have experienced personal, spiritual and psychological growth as being a primarily intellectual and mind based process. Although I have always cared for and enjoyed my body and physical experiences, I did not feel that my body played a particularly important role in growth and development. In the past several years, mostly through my developing meditation practice, I have become attuned to the complexity and power of mind-body connections. In a very pleasurable way, the AT lessons reinforced these feelings. In particular:
1) I have experienced breath, and observation of the breath, as a powerful and infinitely complex locus of mind-body connection. Even before you introduced breath-facilitated instructions, I was experiencing breath mediated expansionary feelings from the AT work. I can't really put into words my sense of direct vital connection between my breath and my deepest sense of my existence. With the AT, I feel this same sense of connection between breath and physical body. Thus the body becomes connected with the deep sense of existence. Quite special and hard to describe!
2) Meditation has been an avenue for me to a very expansionary sense of self---a self that transcends many previously accepted boundaries. The AT practice gives me the same expansionary sense---an ability to experience my body as able to expand outside of previously accepted limits.
3) Both the meditation and the AT practice can be intensely pleasurable and joyful for me, but both can be frustrating when I "try too hard" and aim for a specific state and result. The discipline of "letting go" to move forward seems very similar in both.
4) Through meditation, I have experienced the pleasure and complexity of being "mindful" and paying a great deal of attention to apparently small things. This is directly applicable to the AT practice.
5) In both meditation and AT practice, I experience a connection with inner instincts of which I was previously largely unaware.
Overall, the Nalanda course and my meditation practice have helped me to experience a pleasurable, expansionary, holistic, multi-dimensional sense of existence. The AT lessons echoed and reinforced this sense.” - Psychiatrist
"I found AT very applicable to what we are learning in the Nalanda program this year on several levels. I found our work from the very first session really made me aware of my breath in my next day's meditation practice... I do well with mantras, visualizations, etc but my breath is something that seems to be very difficult for me to concentrate on. I think that our work in AT helped me realize on a more profound level that that is because I don't breathe easy... My stress response and fibromyalgia have me "shrink-wrapped" so that I never get a deep breath. It is almost like I am always holding my breath. I cannot believe that my inability to concentrate on my breath doesn’t have something to do with this -- especially since I found my ability to concentrate on my breathing so much easier the following day.
I also found that AT made me recognize how much stress I carry in my body. Because I ache most of the time, I think I am pretty good at dulling my sense of it. I felt better the day after… better than before... the adjustment of my head and neck helped me free up my body and my mind. And I feel like this helped me in my sitting practice.
AT is a subtle process and I don't know how to put the experience into words. And I don't know if I want to. I do well with words and visualizations and mental
constructs. I am thankful to them. But for my health and wholeness I think I need to listen to my body more so I can grow into all the benefits of meditation.” - R.A.,
“Through the AT practice I learned a lot about my body. I developed a sense of awareness that I didn’t have before. From my experience, the AT could be considered a mindfulness practice since the focus is in really paying attention to what the body is telling you, which requires a deep listening and connection of our mind with the body.
I truly believe that the AT can really complement and enhance different practices that we have been doing, starting with helping to align the body and mind, or at least to see what is going on in our minds and to observe our body. I really appreciate the way the AT teachers are trained to help the body very subtly in “the way”, so the student can really embody it, incorporate the changes and develop a sense of trust in their own body. I think in that sense the AT can complement the mentor bonding practices--our body as our mentor.
Also by really listening to the body and re-aligning it, I feel we are taking care of ourselves and that I think is part of the self-care practices needed in order to serve people. Developing a deep connection within ourselves is the first step to be able to extend it to all our relationships.
In the meditation practices we create and rehearse “ideal” situations in order to embody them, I think in that sense the AT is very similar, not only regarding the movement and postures but also in the relationship with the teacher, where the sense of trust is crucial. Reification habits, difficulty in letting go, and mistrust are experiences that we hold in our bodies and that can be explored with this technique, and that can change into more fulfilling experiences like openness, sense of trust, connection, etc. AT is not a posture technique but a way of reconnecting with our bodies...”
The Medicine Buddha