Words can help you learn a great deal but they don’t always show the whole picture.

If you’re learning the Alexander Technique in one-to-one lessons or on one of our short courses, any input you receive from the teacher’s work with the hands provides you with valuable information.

This input can help you find out what you do to yourself that takes you out of balance. Then you can work to stop doing it.

We normally take ourselves out of balance by using too much effort. This interferes with the best relationship between all parts of the body.

Until you can see how too much effort underpins all that you do, force of habit dictates that you will go on doing things in the same way.

You need more information about what you are doing in order to help you change things.

In particular, you need more information about yourself as an object in space — where you are in relation to your immediate surroundings, and where all your anatomical parts are in relationship to one another.

We have a sense of knowing where all the parts of us are. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t be able to walk through a doorway without hitting the sides.

Here is the problem: it’s easy to think we have an accurate knowledge about this. But sometimes our knowledge isn’t as complete as we think. It’s just what we have got used to.

Using input from lessons or courses, you can tune in to this personal knowledge in order to make it more accurate. That’s what you are aiming for, accuracy in knowing where you are as an object in space. Accuracy in knowing what the relationships are between the parts of the body.

Then you can stand, sit, walk (and engage in other activities) without disturbing the structural relationship of all of the parts of yourself. In other words, you recognize how everything works as a harmonious, integrated system, and seek to maintain that balance in all that you do.

If you use too much effort in one bit, the system will immediately and automatically make a compensatory effort elsewhere.

Getting input on where and how you use too much effort enables you to do things in a way that does not unbalance that harmonious working of the whole. The more you allow it to work in a balanced way, the more the system itself will automatically work that way – as long as you let it.

In other words, once you’ve learned with this help to distinguish between necessary muscular activity and merely the white noise of unnecessary tension, you can choose to dispense with what doesn’t work.

If you’re up against a lot of demands, this practical knowledge will lighten the load.

When you simply want to be quiet and rest, knowing how to move toward stillness is a real bonus.