The Alexander Technique and Me
by Alana S. Cox
My journey to the Alexander Technique began when I was injured in a car accident with whiplash and severely traumatized my right side. At the time, I never received any form of medical treatment for the injuries. I am convinced now that that accident was the origin of many of my physical difficulties. It was on my right side that my symptoms manifested and persisted.
I suffered for years with debilitating headaches and sought relief from a variety of medical doctors; they were unable to diagnose the cause or provide relief. In desperation, I resorted to a Chiropractor. He diagnosed my problem as TMJ (temporal mandibular joint dysfunction) and in turn referred me to a dentist for treatment. For several more years I received various adjustments to my teeth and jaw, which included wearing an unsightly mouthpiece day and night.
This treatment provided only temporary relief. The headaches eventually subsided but I developed pain in various other joints. The pain in my right hip became so severe that at times I could barely walk, and sleep was nearly impossible. A new cadre of doctors prescribed various medications, physical therapy, and cortisone injections.
None of these treatments provided any lasting relief. The pain and discomfort seemed to spread throughout my body. Pain in my shoulder flared up and I had very limited use of my arm. At the same time I was diagnosed with exercise-induced asthma and had to use an inhaler daily. Finally, after years of trial and error my doctors diagnosed my problem as fibromyalgia. It is my feeling that the doctors did not know what more to do with my problem and gave it that label.
After nearly 20 years of pain and suffering, I was totally frustrated. Feeling helpless and discouraged, I decided to investigate alternative medicine. I spent copious amounts of time and money with various types of health advisers. Chiropractors gave me the most relief but it was expensive. The chiropractors had a difficult time trying to realign me and the results were short lived. I also tried Chinese herbs and acupuncture and again found no relief. By this time, I was open to most anything that might end my suffering. I tried shark cartilage tablets and sleeping on magnets with great expectations only to be disappointed again. Feldenkrais felt good but failed to give me the long-term relief I sought. Homeopathy yielded the same outcome as all the other non-traditional treatments I had tried.
Searching the Internet for help became an obsession for me and that is how I discovered the Alexander Technique. It made sense and it "felt right". I was pleased to find that the Continuing Education department at the University where I work offered an introductory class in the Alexander Technique. Unfortunately, the class was canceled due to a lack of interest. Shortly thereafter, my health provider offered an introduction to the Technique. There I began my love affair with the freedom of the Technique. I was convinced from the very beginning that I had found a powerful tool to help me help myself.
I have always been an avid walker. Before the Alexander Technique this activity had led to lower back pain and I would often trip or stumble while walking. Now with proper, improved use and directions, that pain is no longer a concern. In addition, before Alexander lessons, walking up the slightest incline would leave me gasping for breath. Now I am pleased to say that I no longer need to use an asthma inhaler. My health in general has improved dramatically. My shoulder rarely bothers me. My hip has greatly improved and I'm certain it will continue to do so.
In retrospect, I realize my bad habits of leaning backwards and tightening my jaw, was exacerbated when walking up hills or stairs thereby cutting off my air passages. It is a wonder I could walk or breath at all. The beauty of the Alexander Technique is that it's not something you do but what you think and staying in the present.
It's not a treatment or a therapy, but a lesson, a re-educational process to connect your body; mind and I personally believe your spirit as well. In addition to the above-mentioned physical manifestations, my thinking is much clearer and I have a new keener sense of body awareness thanks to the Alexander Technique. Also, it's exciting to me that here is no end to the learning potential available to us by studying the Technique.
It was when I discovered the wonder of Alexander Technique that I finally realized what my life goal was. That is to teach Alexander and assist those who have experienced pain like me. It is as though all my pain and suffering has led me to this discovery for a reason. I have never been so excited, enthusiastic or committed to anything in my life. My search for relief from pain has led me to my calling, my mission in life. During the two years that I have been receiving weekly lessons, I have taken extensive notes and read extensively about the Technique. Now I am pleased to say that I will begin teacher training in September 2001.
Alana S. Cox is currently employed by the University of Massachusetts Donahue Institute. She has been taking Alexander lessons for two years and will begin teacher training at the Alexander Technique School of New England in the fall of 2001. She joined the American Center for the Alexander Technique as an Associate Member in 1999 to increase her exposure to the Alexander Technique, and has found the association and its members to be helpful and informative.
She is interested in hearing from other Alexander Technique advocates who have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia. You can contact her through her website: http://www.alexandertechnique.com/ma
For more information about the Alexander Technique, click here:
The Complete Guide to the Alexander Technique