Alexander Technique
Mahopac, Putnam County, New York
with Laurie Currie, Teacher of the Alexander Technique
Let Your Body Be Your Ally
In This Issue
PEOPLE PICTURES: Seeing Through Alexander Eyes
Nobel Laureate Tinbergen Talks About Alexander
I Wonder What Would Happen If . . .
Quick Links
Laurie Currie
16 Red Brook Road
Mahopac, NY 10541
845 621 4677



Hello Everyone,


This issue is about a simple, familiar process that plays an important role in the Alexander Technique: WATCHING AND WONDERING.  


Have you ever watched something happening, and wondered about it? Of course you have. Maybe you wondered how it happened, or why it happened. Maybe you wondered what might happen next. Maybe you had a hard time believing something you saw. Or maybe you were simply so awestruck at what you saw that it caused you to stop everything for a moment just so you could take it in - you experienced a moment of wonder.


toddler with kitty
A toddler watching and wondering. Note her beautiful body use!

Watching and wondering is a process that we all engage in on a daily basis. Whether we're 3, 33 or 103, it's a big part of how we all learn, grow, and make new discoveries. It plays an important part in creativity, invention, and problem-solving. It's the basis of the scientific method. It's also the process that F.M. Alexander used when he began to try and figure out the cause of the vocal problem that was threatening to end his acting career, and which led to the brilliant method we now know as the Alexander Technique. It's part of the process all Alexander students engage in as they learn and discover how to use themselves in the best possible way.


In this issue I offer you lots to "watch and wonder" about. From pictures, to questions, to Nobel Laureate words of wisdom, to a short video cartoon, there is plenty here to provoke your curiosity and set your mind to wonder. 



PEOPLE PICTURES: Seeing Through Alexander Eyes


The Alexander Technique is a method for helping us change from MISUSE to GOOD USE of ourselves. Take a look at these 3 sets of pictures, and see if you can distinguish between the good use and the misuse.  




sitting baby and man in grass

      GOOD USE                                           MISUSE


~ Where do you see balance and poise? Ease and comfort?

~ Where do you see collapse, compression, and strain?

~ Do you think the young man could sit comfortably this way for long?




2 men standing with poor use

            MISUSE                                                   GOOD USE


~ Whose posture has a sense of natural upward flow?

~ Whose posture has a sense of being out of kilter?

~ What might you expect each man's posture to be like in 20 years?





 3 people bending over work

           MISUSE                         MISUSE                  GOOD USE 

 ~ Where do you see compression, tension, and imbalance?

 ~ Where do you see easeful lengthening without strain?

 ~ Who do you think has the healthiest neck, shoulders, and back?




Living is moving, and the Alexander Technique is about MOVEMENT - moving with more ease and freedom.  It is not about holding yourself in correct positions. Even sitting and standing are considered movement, because to sit or stand with good posture is not static; it is actually a continual, dynamic balancing activity.


If you try to imitate the above pictures of good use, but have not had Alexander lessons, you will probably be tightening, stiffening, and holding yourself with excessive tension in order to maintain the positions. That strategy will never lead you to true ease and poise, and can do you more harm than good. An entirely different process is required. The Alexander Technique is that process, and it simply cannot be learned from pictures. That's why taking lessons from a qualified Alexander Technique Teacher is so important.

Nobel Laureate Tinbergen Talks About Alexander
tinbergen painting
Painting of Tinbergen watching and wondering

Nikolaas Tinbergen was an expert at "watching and wondering". It was a process fundamental to his becoming a leading pioneer in the field of Ethology (animal behavior). It eventually led him to be given a Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1973. It may surprise you to know that he devoted a significant portion of his Nobel Lecture acceptance speech to talking about F.M. Alexander and his technique. Why?


Here's a clue - in his Nobel speech, Tinbergen describes Alexander's work as being an exceptional example of:


"how the old method of watching and wondering about behavior can indeed contribute to the relief of human suffering, in particular of suffering caused by stress."


It turns out that Alexander was a fellow "watcher and wonderer", a man after Tinbergen's own heart!  Alexander's discoveries had emerged out of the same process that Tinbergen's had.


Tinbergen goes on to admit being skeptical at first about Alexander and his technique. However, he was also intrigued. So he, his wife, and their daughter all decided to try some Alexander lessons, each one putting into action their own personal process of watching and wondering. To provide some "experimental control", they each went to a different teacher. He describes their experiences:


"We already notice, with growing amazement, very striking improvements in such diverse things as high blood pressure, breathing, depth of sleep, overall cheerfulness and mental alertness, resilience against outside pressures, and also in such a refined skill as playing a stringed instrument."


By taking a series of lessons, Tinbergen was able to experience the practicality of the technique. He saw that it worked, and he began to understand why it made sense. His view of Alexander and his technique had progressed:

tinbergen in field
Tinbergen in the field
  • from skepticism mixed with curiosity,
  • to willingness to give it the benefit of the doubt,
  • to taking the time to learn and understand the process,
  • to careful critical observation of its effects,
  • to a growing sense of wonder,
  • to his ultimate conclusion, stated below:

 "[Alexander's] story, of perceptiveness, of intelligence, and of persistence, shown by a man without medical training, is one of the true epics of medical research and practice."




View a video of the Alexander portion of Tinbergen's speech here.


Read the transcript of Tinbergen's speech here, starting on page 10 for the Alexander portion.  

I Wonder What Would Happen If . . .

If you are a person who likes to ask, "I wonder what would happen

if . . ."  then you are a person with an inquiring mind. People with inquiring minds consider possibilities. They look at potential consequences of different actions. They make new discoveries, find constructive solutions to problems, and choose options that result in positive outcomes. They follow paths that can lead to surprisingly rewarding conclusions.


F.M. Alexander had an inquiring mind. So does every person who pursues learning the Alexander Technique. And so does the little girl in the video below, in her own delightful way. She may not be using the Alexander Technique per se, but as in the Alexander Technique, she is watching, wondering, and considering the consequences of her next move -- watch! 


Sesame Street - What would happen if...
Sesame Street - I wonder what would happen if...
I hope you've enjoyed this newsletter. If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to contact me. I would love to hear from you!  

Laurie Currie
Alexander Technique