Self-Help Advice Books Man's Supreme Inheritance Part 2

About the self-help book Man's Supreme Inheritance by FM Alexander, history and advice from the book.



Overview: F. Matthias expressed the goal of the Alexander Method in Man's Supreme Inheritance: to reach "the great phase in man's advancement . . . in which he passes from subconscious to conscious control of his own head and body." It teaches the person to pay attention to the space between stimulus and response, that time in which he makes the decision to move--from sitting to standing, standing to walking. He learns to inhibit the "set," the "getting ready," before moving, when he ordinarily tenses the wrong muscles too much. To show this, the Alexander teacher "walks," "stands," "sits" the person, using the hands to give the person a feel for actions as they should be. Most important: the balance of the head (forward and up), the lengthening of the torso, the set of the shoulders (fanned out). The Method is as much mental and psychological as kinesthetic: It breaks the artificial barrier between self and environment by increasing the person's awareness; it expands the consciousness to comprehend "not doing" as well as "doing," the "means-whereby" (process) as well as "end-gaining" (product or goal).

Help-Yourself Advice: Advocates of the method recommend taking lessons from an Alexander teacher, but the following exercises can alert you to what they are talking about.

1. Let your head go forward and up. Don't tense your neck muscles by pulling your head back and down.

2. Let your neck be free. Don't increase tension when you are about to move.

3. Let your torso lengthen and widen out; that is, don't arch your spine and thereby narrow your back.

4. Try to see what you are doing. Lie down and think about sitting up--don't move, just think about moving. What tension do you feel? Try to inhibit the tension while thinking of sitting. Then bring your right knee up while you inhibit any more neck tension than is ordinarily there.*

5. Note how you respond to a noise or the thought of a noise. Try to inhibit neck-muscle tension.*

6. A model activity: Leave your tongue with tip touching your lower teeth (where it usually is). Smile as you think of something funny. Open your mouth, letting your lower jaw drop forward without tilting your head back. Whisper "ah." Close your lips and let air in through your nose. (Purpose: to inhibit tense responses and promote "non-end-gaining.")

*Exercise developed by Frank Pierce Jones, Alexander teacher and author of Body Awareness in Action: A Study of the Alexander Technique.

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