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Quote of the Month: April 2014

by Ellen on April 4th, 2014

“You can only look forward as far as you can look back.” ~Raymond Dart

Continuing the theme of developmental movement month here at Forward and Up, here is one of my favorite quotes from Raymond Dart. This is something that he said a lot while working with my teachers, Joan and Alex. He used it as a rationale for learning about developmental movement, the idea being that you can’t really make progress unless you are aware of the conditions that brought you to this point. In Dart’s mind, the farthest you can look back is the fetal curve, the position you were in inside the womb. His developmental movement work all starts with fetal, exploring the patterns that developed out of that tightly-coiled shape and the natural progression from birth to crawling to standing. Through working in fetal, you gain an increased understanding of just how far you’ve come, and how much forward progress is still available to you.

This quote is equally applicable to the basics of Alexander Technique as well. Again, you can’t change a habit and move forward until you’ve looked back to see what might have originally caused it. To illustrate this, let me tell you a story I tell a lot of my students. In my last year of training, one of my fellow students was in the middle of a lesson with Joan when he had an epiphany of sorts. As she moved him in the chair, a sudden look of realization crossed his face, and he told us a story: Back when he was 8 or 9 he was sitting one day eating an apple, holding the apple in his left hand and using a paring knife to cut slices off the apple with his right. His hand slipped, and he sliced through the webbing in between the thumb and forefinger of his left hand. “As soon as it happened, my reaction was this” – telling us the story, he suddenly clutched his left hand with his right and curled his whole body in around it, as if protecting it. “And I just realized – I’ve been doing that ever since!” The reaction was so sharp and traumatic that his entire left side was still holding the remnants of that tension so many years later. The epiphany he’d had was those muscles finally releasing that tension, which called the memory to mind (a phenomenon that happens a lot when habitual muscle tension is finally released). Muscle tension is often linked to past events, and once we look back to see where the tension comes from, we can begin to release it and look forward again.

Forward and Up! is a Pittsburgh-based private practice offering quality instruction in the Alexander Technique in a positive and supportive environment.

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