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On Belief Systems and Learning

A debate from the Alextech e-mail discussion group on the validity
of the premises of the Alexander Technique

Part 7

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All contributions are copyright by their authors. Note that the e-mail addresses of the participants were valid at the time of the debate but may not be valid any longer.

Section Seven
— and continues...

  1.  Tom Vasiliades — re: epistemology, David Gorman, beliefs, etc. — July 1/98
  2.  David Langstroth —  reply to Thomas Vasiliades — July 2/98
  3.  John Coffin — re: Dewey quote and Primary Control — July 1/98
  4.  John Coffin — re: Reply to Reply to John Coffin — July 1/98
  5.  Kirk McElhearn — re: Reply to Reply to John Coffin — July 2/98
  6.  John Coffin — re: Reply to Reply to John Coffin — July 2/98
  7.  Peter Ruhrberg — re: David Gorman — experiences in lessons — July 2/98
  8.  Rajal Cohen — re: David Gorman — experiences in lessons — July 3/98
  9.  John Coffin — re: reply to Mike Blayney and John Coffin — July 3/98
 10.  David Gorman — re: reply to Mike Blayney and John Coffin — July 3/98

Date: Wed, 01 Jul 1998 12:54:34 EDT
To: alextech@life.uiuc.edu
From: tvasiliades@juno.com (THOMAS VASILIADES)
Subject: RE: epistemology, David Gorman, beliefs, etc.

I have returned from the NASTAT annual meeting and a short vacation. Sorting through all the e-mail postings I have walked in on a fascinating conversation. As a preamble of sorts I will state that the discoveries of Alexander were revolutionary. What follows is put forth to continue advancing the work that Alexander developed, to complete it (not as a finished product but as one speaker completes another in conversation). I am currently writing a paper, the working title is: A Postmodern Practice of the Alexander Technique. Some of what follows is from that paper, some is my response to the dialogue that’s been going on.

As for David Langstroth posting on June 22:
"The important point for this forum is that the Alexander Technique, like most practical bodies of knowledge, is BASED ON the assumption of the existence of objective reality. It is only WITHIN this assumption that you can speak meaningfully about the technique."

I find the assumption in this statement not to hold. It seems to me that an atheist and a god- loving person can speak (create a conversation) meaningfully ( whatever that means) giving expression to the (dis)belief in god. I don’t assume the existence of objective reality and can speak to the issues that have been raised in this forum.

My response to the conversation on epistemology that happened around June 18 on this list is as follows:

Many years prior to Alexander’s discoveries from the late 1400’s on there was the emergence of "rational man" (I use man here for historical accuracy), enlightened man, modern man. Man becomes capable of understanding nature through science. Epistemology is, in short, how we know, the activity of knowing. Ontology is, the objects of knowledge, what there is to know. With modern science, "man" (the observer) whose knowledge of the world is made possible by empirical observation and mathematics, becomes the ideal knower. Distance between the observer and the observed is needed for scientific epistemology. We need that distance, for example, to observe and study the stars. Certainly over the past 500 years the discoveries and advancements created by modern science have been enormously helpful to the world. Electricity, airplanes, telephones, computers etc. . I am not taking an anti-science position here. Science has given much to the world.

What doesn’t follow is that the scientific epistemological dualistic paradigm for observing stars doesn’t hold for understanding human activity. There is not the distance needed for the observation for humans observing other humans and themselves. In my opinion, holding on to epistemology has had a great impact on the failures of the social sciences and the limitations of medical science. This is not a denial of the hard work and the well-meaning people who work in these fields. It is accurate to say that we have not developed as a species, emotional and humanistically as we have technologically. This though is for another conversation.

In an Alexander lesson a teacher doesn’t have the distance from the student. They are a unity that is not separable into particulars of two selves (teacher and student). The distance needed is not there.

In my teaching we(my students and I) are creating conversation. We challenge the assumptions of how they live their lives. We create an environment for us to grow , learn and develop. In the performance based approach I’ve been working with, we create conversation and one of the things I do is put hands on. The putting in of hands is no longer primary in teaching. In teaching there isn’t anything primary, causal or explanatory. With this method I don’t seek to know the causality or explanation of someone’s discomfort (calling it a problem cries out for a solution) rather together we work to build with what we have to transform ourselves.

I applaud David Gorman. Thanks for your openness, and sharing your process with us. I admire you for going out on a limb.

My fundamental disagreement with what David has written, at least how I read his three part posting, is the belief in object reality. The implication of object reality is that there is truth, an absolutism. We (humans) are continually creating environments none more real or truthful than any other.

Another concept I disagree with is the concept of the ‘self’ (for sure David G. didn’t create this concept, nor did FM. The concept has been around since the Greeks and reached greater prominence with the help of Descartes "I think therefore I am" and the Enlightenment period.) As I wrote above the teacher and student are not separable. We are interconnected. We are a social species. The concept of the self, in my opinion, separates that that is inseparable.

The performance based method I have been practicing helps to create choices(not simply be a choice maker) for students to grow and develop. As a teacher I offer the student(s) the opportunity to perform who they are(their usual performance) and who they are not(e.g., not compressed), at the same time. I don’t tell them’ how’ to do it in a cognitive way. It is through performed activity that we change developmentally. The mentalistic inhibition/direction self- centered approach leaves out collective performed activity. As we continue to work, students discover and are consciously aware of the activity of what we are doing together. Through this process of performance, students are more free and open to live their lives developmentally, they transform. Also, they attain relief from chronic pain, stress relief, improved breathing and enhanced performance to name a few benefits.

I thought in some of what David G. was doing with both the young man and the violinist was asking them to perform who they are( what they are up to) and getting them to perform who they are not. My disagreement with you here, David, is that you went after the causality, the explanation of the problem. I question whether it is necessary, helpful or possible to know the cause of misuse. We can ask students to perform without the causality, the reason. I do and the results have been significant. I find that my students don’t use the technique instrumentally ( applying the technique to an activity) for a particular result(good use). They practice(through performed activity) the Alexander method. The activity is simultaneously tool-and-result.

I’ve worked with Dr. Fred Newman, a doctor of philosophy, a psychotherapist (founder of Social Therapy)for many years. From him I heard about a Soviet psychologist named Lev Vygotsky. His work was during the 1920’s-30’s. He died at the age of 37. Vygotsky discoveries on human development are notable. One I will share with you. Vygotsky noticed how children learned to speak. A child makes sounds (gaga, googoo). An experienced speaker (mother, father, siblings, etc.) responds to the child with "Oh, do you want the bottle?" The experienced speaker is relating to the child as a "head taller than she/he is"(these are Vygotsky’s words here, no pun intended). Now who knows if the child wants the bottle, wants anything, is trying to speak or knows what speaking is. It is through the process, the activity of the child imitating, performing beyond itself, performing who it is not that it transforms, develops into a speaker. From sounds, to syllables, to words, to phrases, to sentences, to paragraphs, to conversation a child performs beyond herself/himself. The child grows and develops into a speaker. It is by performing that we(humans) develop beyond who we are, not knowledge, not causality, not explanation. A child doesn’t ‘know’ how to speak before it learns how to speak. A child doesn’t know the causality or the explanation of why she/he is or is not a speaker. She/he performs and develops into a speaker. The child learns then develops into a speaker. As Vygotsky says "learning precedes development." This is different from the Piagetian model that has it the other way.

It is through performed activity that will free the ‘we’ (teacher and student(s)), grow, learn, develop and improve use and function. The linearity of the mentalistic inhibition/direction approach is confining. After all the use of the self has to do with the ‘self’, a particular mistakenly separated from an interconnected world that is inseparable.

There’s is more that I’d like to say but would like to hear your responses. I prefer any posting to be to the list instead of a private response.

Tom Vasiliades, New York City

Date: Thu, 02 Jul 1998 18:52:50 +0100
To: alextech@life.uiuc.edu
From: David Langstroth david@alexandertec.u-net.com
Subject: reply to Thomas Vasiliades

Dear Thomas,

Thanks for your ideas. You have raised interesting areas with postmodernism and Vygotsky but there are a couple of points which I would debate with you.

Firstly, concerning the existence of objective reality, you wrote that you didn’t believe in it and didn’t see this as a problem:
"It seems to me that an atheist and a god- loving person can speak (create a conversation) meaningfully ( whatever that means) giving expression to the (dis)belief in god. I dont assume the existence of objective reality and can speak to the issues that have been raised in this forum."

As you say, the atheist can discuss the existence of God with the christian but the conversation that they can’t have is "What is the true nature of the trinity". The christian will have his ideas, but without joining him (if only temporarily) in the fundamental assumption that God exists the atheist cannot participate in the conversation. So too with Alexander Technique. If you believe that we all construct our own personal realities then we can certainly have a debate about whether or not the Technique is real or describes anything real, but as soon as we discuss "Where is forward and up" you are entering into (perhaps only temporarily) the assumption that objective reality exists because objective reality is what the concepts of the technique assume. The only way you can have this conversation from your perspective is to argue that "forward and up" (and every other Alexander concept) does not describe any objective reality.

Let me say a few words on postmodernism. It has certainly thrown up an interesting perspective on the world in which we live and how we know what we know. I would predict however, in spite of its current fashionable status in some academic circles, that before too long it will be seen as an intellectual dead end, and we will see a re-emergence of objectively based theorising. I think it will have made an important contribution and that some of its critiques are valid, but I do not think it has a future in its extreme form.

I say this because if we are to accept the arguments of postmodernists then the projects which are left open to us are deconstruction and discourse analysis. After a time, when everything has been deconstructed and we are left endlessly analysing discourse, all that we will be able to contribute will be limited personal points of view on the semiotic systems of our society. Postmodernism cannot construct anything more than a point of view. Its usefulness is hobbled by its own position.

You also brought up Vygotsky. His ideas have been hugely influential, giving a lot of support to a newish perspective in social psychology known as social constructionism. Interestingly, Vygotsky did believe that objective reality exists as his project was to explain how objectively real children develop according to a real, and universal pattern of cause and effect concerning social processes. Ironically postmodern criticism of Vygotsky has pointed out that his particular theory is a product of his positioning in the rigid intellectual climate of the Soviet Union, in which the individual was rigorously de-emphasised in favour of the collective.

However, one important caution about Vygotsky is that he studied child development. I am not aware that he explicitly applied his ideas to adult learning or development. If he did not, then the drawing of parallels would have to be done with some caution.

My personal problem with social constructionism is that, although it gives us a good analysis of how social processes create the person that we are, it is profoundly deterministic. What Alexander gave us was a way to escape whatever habits that have come to form us, whether those habits are based in biological drives, childhood psychic experiences, or the social processes we have experienced. Alexander offers us the way to change, and to move beyond the determining factors so assertively argued by psychoanalysis, social constructionism, or even the biological perspectives of social psychology. They have all tried to explain the ways in which our instincts or habits (based on inheritence or experience) determine us.

--Alexander showed that they don’t have to.

David Langstroth

Date: Wed, 1 Jul 1998
From: JohnC10303@aol.com
To: alextech@life.uiuc.edu
Subject: Re: Dewey quote and Primary Control


In the South African trial, much was made of the loose connection between ‘zentralapparat’ and ‘Primary Control;’ the former being Magnus’ term for the region of the brain stem where much/most postural/coordinating activiy originated. As I recall offhand, one of Alexander’s doctor pupils (I think Murdoch) said that he had translated the relevant passages for FM and that any confusion lay in the transition between languages.

Lulie Westfeldt claimed that Alexander didn’t clarify the primacy of neck/head in MSI. This is not true, the do it yourself instructions for sitting, standing, walking give the ‘orders’ in sequence.

I am not sure how much the earlier terms; ‘antagonistic action,’ ‘primary movement,’ ‘position of mechanical advantage,’ principle of mechanical advantage’ are intended to include the neck and head. MSI and CCCI are pretty cagey about giving ‘laundry lists’ of orders. Alexander referrs to ‘primary’ (inhibitory) and ‘secondary’ (volitional) orders, but disclaims any universal series. I suspect that the concept we now call ‘primary control’ may have been rattling around for a while before Magnus’ papers provided a working name for it.

Another reason I alluded to the absence of Primary Control referrences in Dewey is that Gorman’s new Revelation seems to echo Dewey’s description of Alexander’s teaching before 1920.

John Coffin

Date: Wed, 1 Jul 1998
From: JohnC10303@aol.com
To: 100653.2057@compuserve.com, alextech@life.uiuc.edu
Subject: Re: Reply to Reply to John Coffin

Hello list: and David

Just a couple of notes.

1. I agree absolutely about the problem of the Alexander Technique as practiced versus the Technique as it might/should be defined. Alexander’s books do not, and I believe were not intended to provide some Platonic Ideal of what the Technique was, is, and ever shall be. The gap between the Technique AS DESCRIBED and the Technique AS PRACTICED is still pretty shocking. As a class, teachers of the Technique seem wildly over concerned with the ‘physical’ at the expense of the ‘psychical.’ The use of terms like ‘body work,’ ‘practitioner,’ and even (so help me) ‘therapy,’ indicate a massive exodus away from the implications of the Technique as passed down to us. I alluded to the prevalence of of ‘unteachability’ among teachers in referrence to this, and also to answer David’s statement about not having heard about the matters he is now concerned with from X number of visiting teachers at his training course.

2. You seem to be laboring under a misunderstanding of the nature of proof. When I say that your success with your current practice does not justify claiming new discoveries, I am making a simple statement of fact. I am not attempting an evaluation of either the success or the theories claimed to explain it. ‘Clinical’ observation, from the standpoint of ‘giver’ or ‘receiver,’ is so notoriously untrustworthy that it should not need rementioning. Lobotomists, bleeders and purgers, psychotherapists ‘curing’ homosexuality etc. all had no trouble ‘confirming thier theories in clinical experience;’ and their unfortunate patients were just as likely to be satisfied with the treatment received. Shaw wrote: ‘The first duty of the doctor is to agree with the patients diagnosis.’

3. ‘Ad hominem attacks.’ Prejudice and sectarianism in the Technique has been fostered by the reluctance of older teachers to talk openly about the divisions that inevitably occured after Alexander’s death. Claims of primary authority, the trouble with Charles Neal and the ‘Isobel Cripps Centre,’ the attempt of Beaumont Alexander to control the Technique, the Barlow’s unapproved training course; all were dirty secrets during my training. Instead of open discussion, we had vague gossip and disparaging remarks about teaching ability. Our collective inability to recognize and deal with the CAUSES of these entirely understandable clashes has probably set the Technique’s progress back by decades.

If ad hominem attacks are the problem, how are we to take the implication that David Gorman has discovered that we have all been wasting our time for the last 104 years and that he alone has received a ‘new revelation’ which renders the Alexander Technique obsolete? This ‘homo’ feels pretty well attacked!

Back to the real matter:

David Gorman has written a powerful argument in favor of reconsidering much of what is now called the ‘Alexander Technique,’ in particular the overemphasis on muscle which makes the Technique look like a postural method.

David also has pointed out the problem of a sort of medieval scholasticism growing around the Authority of Alexander and a few of the first generation teachers. In response to this problem he has extablished a new orthodoxy with himself as its leader and Source of Authority. David claims to be training teachers who will be impervious to imitation and ritual, it will be for time to demonstrate how this can happen if One Person is in the position of source and judge of ‘independant thinking and experiment.’

Love and service
John Coffin

Date: Thu, 2 Jul 1998 12:03:30 +0000
From: kirk@mcelhearn.com (Kirk Mcelhearn)
To: JohnC10303@aol.com, alextech@life.uiuc.edu
Subject: Re: Reply to Reply to John Coffin

On 1/07/98, John Coffin is reported to have said:
"David also has pointed out the problem of a sort of medieval scholasticism growing around the Authority of Alexander and a few of the first generation teachers. In response to this problem he has extablished a new orthodoxy with himself as its leader and Source of Authority. David claims to be training teachers who will be impervious to imitation and ritual, it will be for time to demonstrate how this can happen if One Person is in the position of source and judge of independant thinking and experiment."

Gee, isn’t that how Alexandre did it?.....


Date: Thu, 2 Jul 1998
From: JohnC10303@aol.com
To: kirk@mcelhearn.com, alextech@life.uiuc.edu
Subject: Re: Reply to Reply to John Coffin

list and Kirk

"Gee, isnt that how Alexandre did it?....."

Of course it is. Despite his efforts to the contrary, Alexander could not avoid being shunted into the position of Ideal Example. We are still suffering from our attempts to duplicate or depose him instead of learning from him.

John Coffin

Date: Thu, 2 Jul 1998
From: Peter Ruhrberg pruhrberg.at@cityweb.de
To: alextech@life.uiuc.edu
Subject: Re: David Gorman -- experiences in lessons

Dear David, and all,

In a message, dated 01/07/98, you wrote:
"But the real point for this discussion is that there is also NO POSSIBILITY of a real debate even on the issue of the validity of the premises of the Alexander Technique in the light of my challenge, until whoever wants to debate has done the experiments for themselves of correlating peoples actual thoughts/feelings/actions, AS EXPERIENCED BY THOSE PEOPLE, with the physical/functional coordinations AS SEEN BY ANY OUTSIDER.

If any of you feel that you have already done that, then please bring forward what you have found and how it relates to what makes sense to do to help someone. AND how you feel this relates to the Alexander Technique as it usually practiced. Some of you are doing that and as David Langstroth says in his recent post, then we can debate the interpretations."

Let’s see whether a lesson which I gave today could perhaps serve as a contribution to David’s proposal. Please consider that it is only one example, other lessons which I give could go quite different. It is also only a partial description, so please realize that the actual lesson was a little slower than the description might suggest.

At the beginning I asked my student what she would like to do today. She wished to see what she was doing while ironing. She also reported pain between the shoulder blades after having done that for a while in her usual way and she could imagine, but actually not believe that "ironing and not having pain" could go together.

So we got an iron board and off she went. What she did, among other things, was that she raised her shoulder and elbow and sort of shoved the iron over the board, chiefly through rotating her whole shoulder girdle and shifting her weight from one foot to the other. There was an almost complete absence of rotation in the glenohumeral joint. The pain became noticeable to her.

Since she already knows where the joints are in the shoulder region, I asked her what movements she could make in the shoulder joint, and she demonstrated very easily ad/abduction and flexion/extension. I asked her if she could think of a third degree of freedom in the shoulder joint. She thought about it for a while and then she said "no, but I remember vaguely that there should be one."

I then asked her to demonstrate to me what she would do in order to turn a key with the arm downward, elbow extended. She invariably responded by raising her shoulder girdle and rotating it inward. I asked her where this movement happened and she very accurately described to me what I had just seen. I asked her how efficient she thought her movement was. Because of her already existing knowledge she could see easily that the movement she made was neither effective enough nor appropriate for turning the arm sufficiently.

Then I asked her if she was interested in experiencing how the shoulder joint is actually made to move. When she said yes, I rotated her shoulder joint according to my knowledge of its structure and according to my knowledge of what one could call "the manipulative side" of the technique.

It came as little surprise to me that she wanted to help me by doing the things she thought she HAD TO DO in order to rotate the arm. When I asked her if she could make a decision not to use the movements that admittedly did not make sense to her anymore, the rotational movement of the arm went practically without friction.

I was just about to ask her if this movement was the same or different from the one she had just done before, but she pre-empted me by saying, "it’s as if the arm isn’t there anymore." Then, after a while, she said, "it is as if I do the unnecessary things with my muscles to be sure that the arm is really there."

I said, "yes, that’s what it means to you. And you are the lucky one who decides whether to move in the more effective way and feel strange, or to move in the way that doesn’t make sense to you by now, and feel familiar. So, let’s see if you can rotate your arm at the shoulder joint by yourself." And she did it with that gorgeous simplicity which is so characteristic of efficient movement.

"Now," I asked, "do you think you could bring your forearm up, with the palm down, but continue to think what you’ve thought before, and decide to rotate the shoulder joint in the new and more effective way?" She said, "yes". And she did. And she almost couldn’t stop being amazed how little effort was necessary to make this comparatively large movement with her hand.

Then I said, "as you and I know, there are more than one joint involved in moving the hand across a straight line, as for instance, in ironing. BUT: do you think you could continue the kind of thinking process you’ve done before and move your hand with the iron in it, while allowing your shoulder joint to work in the more easy way, the way for which it is actually designed?" She said, "yes," and she succeeded after the second attempt.

I asked her about the pain she had referred earlier. She asked "what pain?" and the moment later we were both laughing. She even had forgotten the pain that she thought was inseparably bound with the activity of ironing. And that, in effect, was the end of the lesson.

This was not the first example of a particular movement limitation that students impose on themselves according to their IDEAS of what is true and what is not true, but it is but an example in which the student reported afterwards that she was more clear than usual that SHE HERSELF (more than anyone else) was doing the process that helped her -- that is, the process of finding out 1) what her idea of the activity was, 2) which idea could work better in reality and 3) how to make a constructive change in her thinking in order to accomplish the task at hand with NO MORE than the necessary muscular effort, and instead more in accordance with the way the structure of the body is organized.

The hands-on part in that lesson went for about 30 seconds.

In another circumstance, I might have chosen an entirely different approach (in connection with perhaps more or actually no hands-on work).

What I do in a lesson is dependent upon the conditions present and upon what the student and I can recognize as the conception (belief, belief system) underlying the thinking underlying the movement (which might or might not actually cause a problem).

What I do in a lesson also depends on my decision to interact -- to the best of my knowledge and abilities -- with my students in such a way that it "appeals to their reasoning faculties and latent powers of originality," so that students have the chance to become increasingly able to use their faculties and powers in order to accomplish a constructive change in the way in which they direct the use of themselves in their activities.

Is this the way Alexander gave lessons? According to his students, at least those of the period between the 30’s and 50’s, it doesn’t seem so.

Is this the way FM trained his students to become teachers? According to the several records, diaries etc., it looks like he did it not that way, at least in his Training Course. What FM really "was up to", what his issue really was is the thing that we can, as always, only guess.

But remember that Ethel Webb, according to Walter Carrington, often told that when she asked Mr. Alexander for advice on how to teach, he told her, "Just don’t do anything you have ever seen me do." She also added that this advice "was my training."

Is this way of teaching consistent with Mr. Alexander’s principles as stated in his writings? I think it depends chiefly on four things:

1) a relentless work on understanding Mr Alexander’s principles from his own writings;

2) the degree to which I can reasonably prove that the procedures (or "technical evolutions", if you prefer FM’s phrase) that I use are consistent with the principles of FM’s work (of course, as I understand them at any particular moment);

3) a constant process of reasoning out what the most appropriate way of doing any activity, including teaching, would consist of; and

4) the willingness to change my assumptions in the light of new facts, should I find that the new facts prove that the basic premises on which I built my assumptions are wrong.

Is this a valuable contribution to the list? Please tell me, because if nobody wants to read it there would be no sense for me in further writing mails like this.

Peter Ruhrberg

Date: Fri, 3 Jul 1998
To: Peter Ruhrberg pruhrberg.at@cityweb.de, alextech@life.uiuc.edu
From: Rajal Cohen rajcohen@usa.net
Subject: Re: David Gorman -- experiences in lessons

At 05:56 PM 7/2/98 +0200, Peter Ruhrberg wrote:
"Let's see whether a lesson which I gave today could perhaps serve as a contribution to David's proposal. Is this a valuable contribution to the list? Please tell me, because if nobody wants to read it there would be no sense for me in further writing mails like this."


All the theoretical issues are getting a little beyond me, but I very much appreciate being talked through how you taught a specific lesson. It was very generous of you to share what you actually did in an actual lesson.

I think we all tend to be a bit shy about doing that, opening ourselves up to potential criticism for other list-readers who have a different take on how the AT really SHOULD be taught. Or we guard our special tricks and ways of teaching so we can be special. We hide behind abstractions and deprive each other of useful information.

I hope others will follow your lead. (I hope I will.) Thanks.

Rajal Cohen

Date: Fri, 3 Jul 1998 01:42:27 EDT
From: JohnC10303@aol.com
To: 100653.2057@compuserve.com, alextech@life.uiuc.edu
Subject: Re: reply to Mike Blayney and John Coffin

List: and David

Apparently D.G. is unable to digest my opinions even I am supporting him. I have attempted to link Gorman’s example of the futility of the violinist ‘trying to play well’ with Dewey’s example of the subject ‘trying to stand straight.’ The chief difference being that the violinist is ‘trying,’ in an unhelpful way, to do something which she CAN do; while the Sloucher can only blindly try to do something he would already be doing if he could.

I expressed the difference like this:
"The sloucher will need to go on to new experiences of what standing does and does not mean, before he can know what kind of effort is really needed."

Gorman replied like this:
"From my point of view, if the real issue has nothing at all to do with slouching or standing, there is no point in bringing someone to more awareness of their standing, in giving experiences of better standing, or how much effort is needed or anything like that. After all, what the person (or an outsider) is seeing as slouching in standing is not just in their standing but in everything they do, because it is the organization of being them. The more anyone might draw someone to re-educating standing, the more theyd be forgetting that when someone is strong and happy (again to use the problems of my example--there are others, of course), they are paying no attention to standing."

If we follow this reasoning, the following should be true of the violinist: After all, what the person (or an outsider) is seeing as strain in violin playing is not just in their violin playing but in everything they do, because it is the organization of being them. ... when someone is strong and happy ... they are paying no attention to playing the violin.

Further along he says:
"Standing, movement, posture, etc. are NOT something we have to learn, they are manifestations of who we are in our lives (our lived constructs)."

Oh please! If standing etc. etc. are ‘manifestations of ... our lived constructs’ where do we acquire these ‘lived constructs’ if we have not learned them? The statement above is circular. Again; is violin playing ‘NOT something we have to learn’ but a ‘manifestation of who we are in our lives?’

In my post I was AGREEING with Gorman on the importance of the pupils ideas (manifestations of who they are in their lives, conceptions) in the solutions of both examples. The most important step for each individual is to cease exerting effort along the lines of their previous conceptions, of ‘playing well’ or ‘standing straight.’ Feeling ‘strong and happy’ is a by-product of ceasing to beat one’s head against a wall, putting your efforts where they are of real use and enjoying the resultant success.

Love and Service
John Coffin

Date: Fri, 3 Jul 1998
From: David Gorman 100653.2057@compuserve.com
To: alextech@life.uiuc.edu
Subject: Re: reply to Mike Blayney and John Coffin

Hi all,

John Coffin wrote on July 3, 1998:
"Apparently D.G. is unable to digest my opinions even I am supporting him."

I’m sorry if John feels that I cannot even agree with him. I always appreciate support, but, as far as I can see, we are in fact talking about quite different things.

The cases of the violinist and the sloucher are very different and if you tried to compare them the way John is you’d miss that difference.

In my reply to Mike Blayney I made the point that in each case I am looking for what the person is up to. The violinist was up to trying to play well. She has obviously learned to play the violin, this is not an innate coordination taken care of by our system. What she has not learned is that no matter how well she wants to play, there is not much she can do to DIRECTLY achieve that goal. She can (and did) learn that the best way to achieve her goal is to stay out of the way and recognize that she plays better when she is not trying to directly play better (and, incidentally, that the critics have their own minds and will think whatever they want without her manipulating their opinions, or at least what she thinks she can do to make them like her better).

But the sloucher is a very situation and this difference is essential to understand. The sloucher, or at least most slouchers I’ve ever known (myself included years ago), do not set about to learn slouching. We just go about our lives doing, thinking and feeling what we do, think and feel. It so happens that ‘slouching’ is the physical/functional manifestation of that way of being. Eventually I or others will notice it and comment on it and then maybe I will attempt to ‘correct’ it (the slouching). I would be mistaken, of course, because I didn’t do the slouching in the first place, but here I am attempting to correct it.

So far, perhaps John and I are in agreement. PERHAPS where we diverge is in the next step.

What the sloucher doesn’t know when regarding his slouching as a ‘problem’ is that it is the manifestion (or the coordination if you like) of his on-going way of being--his thoughts, feelings and belief systems. When we find out what these are and uncover the delusions, misconceptions and his resulting actions and reaction upon these ‘faulty reality appreciations’, then we can make experiments to show clearly how things actually are (see my examples yesterday about low value and imagining judgement).

As this person learns and is no longer suffering under their misconceived ‘reality’ (and they will be suffering a lot), so too do the ‘postural’ manifestations change all by themselves. In this sense someone does not have to ‘learn’ at all about standing, or have better experiences of standing. We do have to get at the root of the problem--which is the faulty reality construct.

This is my point of view...


Continued in PART 8...

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