Skip to content

Quote of the Month: September 2016

by Ellen on September 1st, 2016

“The fact is there are six senses, and we name five. In addition to sight and hearing and touch and taste and smelling we have a movement sense, known more technically as the kinesthetic sense. The kinesthetic sense tells you about your body: its position and its size and whether it’s moving and, if so, where and how. That is the information that corresponds to color, depth, and shape in vision or salt, sweet, and bitter in the gustatory sense.”

~Barbara and William Conable, “How to Learn the Alexander Technique: A Manual For Students”

I’m reading this book at the recommendation of one of my current students, and loving its no-nonsense straightforward tone and valuable insights. This paragraph resonated with me strongly, specifically, the idea that for some reason, we fail to name one of the major senses when going through them with our young children. We talk about touch, taste, smell, hearing, sight…but where is the internal sense? Where is the sense that allows us to close our eyes and accurately touch a fingertip to the end of our nose? Where is the sense that allows us to identify whether our body is upright or horizontal? Where is the discussion of our kinesthetic sense?

I was at the dentist yesterday for some work, and I took the opportunity while getting numb from the novocain to explore this sense myself. I found that I could run my tongue over the tooth in question, and while my tongue did feel the presence of the tooth, it felt like a foreign object rather than a part of me. The nerve endings in the tooth itself had been numbed, so my tooth’s kinesthetic sense was shut off. The tooth felt to my tongue like a wall of bone, and I received no sensation back from the tooth at all about what the tongue felt like. This was a clear example of my own kinesthetic sense, and just how involved and fine-tuned our ‘unnamed’ sense is.

One of the biggest hurdles in learning the Alexander Technique is getting used to listening to our kinesthetic sense, a sense that for most of us goes largely unnoticed in our daily lives. The Conables state, “Your mother and father, as representatives of the culture at large, named seeing and hearing for you. They taught you directly the difference between blue and green and loud and soft. They probably did not, on the other hand, name kinesthesia for you, nor did they directly teach you basic kinesthetic distinctions like tense and free or balanced and unbalanced.” (P. 19) Why is that? Why do we not teach our children about their sixth sense? And what observations could our children teach us if they were made consciously aware of their kinesthetic sense from a young age?

So for the month of September, let’s introduce ourselves to our kinesthetic sense. How much can you sense about yourself – the way you move, the level of freedom or tension in your joints, the relative placement of your limbs and torso? As you read this right now, where are your elbows in relation to your ribs? Are you clenching your jaw? What direction is gravity relative to you? Let’s explore!

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

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Note: XHTML is allowed. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS