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Body Language Shapes Who You Are

Amy Cuddy TED Talk

This TED talk has ignited my imagination all week!

Cuddy’s research shows that not only does our brain affect our body, but our body affects our brain. Aha! In Alexander Technique we rediscover this dynamic relationship between our thinking and our moving — we begin to notice that fixed thinking leads to fixed, non-effective and unbalanced movement and vice-versa. We then learn to direct our thinking in a cohesive and effective manner in order to yield cohesive and effective movement which supports any activity we engage in. We also enliven our sensitivity to how our stiff, over-efforting coordination interferes with our best functioning — from balancing on one leg, breathing, singing difficult coloratura passages or finding creative solutions to problems or managing stressful situations with poise.

Yet Cuddy’s assertion is that we not only “fake it till we make it” , but rather  that we “fake it till we become it”. This is a powerful distinction to make. Time and time again I see students somewhat bewildered in the process of learning to attend to their own Use — coming up against both  the power of their own habits and the inaccuracy of their own sensory mechanism. My advice is simply “practice”… even if you can’t tell if anything is happening.  This speaks to the efficacy of repetition, the pay-off of stick-to-it-ive-ness and the discipline of mindful daily practice (Constructive Thinking in F.M.’s words). Daring to not comply with our strong habits of Downward Pull is a radical act! When we dare to engage a new, non-habituated and well-coordinated manner we are paving a path to become it!

While Cuddy’s take on posture is decidedly simplistic and lacks an understanding of Primary Control, I think her message and research are compelling. Her “posture poses” lack the sophistication and sensitivity we cultivate as students and teachers of Alexander Technique and may not yield fully-realized Primary Pattern, yet do get at the power of Inhibition. Even if we overdo it it in our earnestness to “get it” and “do it”, even when we push or pull in the name of lengthening, the mere power of our intention to not do the shortening is useful in and of itself. Hence “thinking up” and “doing up” maybe have more in common than we think.

Marj Barstow was a bit of a rebel in her approach to Primary Pattern as a movement we could indeed  “do” — she just insisted that we do it delicately! I think she would have rather liked this TED talk :-)

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