Holding Space, Withholding Definition: Workshop Description in English

Holding Space, Withholding Definition

The Alexander work is often approached through a point of view that is broadly corrective: a person is caught in a given pattern of habits, and something needs to be done so that she can experience more of who she could potentially be. The Alexander teacher takes a visual/kinesthetic read, noting patterns of pulldown or areas where the student appears to be using herself in some way out of accord with the way that we are designed to function. The teacher can then use her skill to communicate to the student that there are other, more appropriate, forms of use. This approach can be very useful, and it can give the student an experience of a different way of inhabiting herself. However, there are also other possible approaches.

In my own experience, I find the work to be deeper and more meaningful when I work with the person’s potential, rather than working with a person’s “habit of use” as an obstacle that needs to be surmounted. There are several different ways of working with potential. In this workshop we’ll be exploring one of them, one that I have been calling “holding the space between stimulus and response.”

In this way of working, the teacher creates a small, albeit significant, change in the person’s state by diffusing the localization of muscular tension. Diffusing the localization of muscular tension creates a space absent from the familiar. This is a space of possibility and potential. The person can experience the absence of what they have been committed to while having a reassuring sense of being held in support.

At that point, rather than guiding the person into some approximation of “good use”, the teacher listens deeply, waiting for the student to show up and open into the space in her own way. As the student shows up, the teacher modulates her response. This modulation is a little hard to explain only in words, but we will be exploring it in the workshop through demonstration, hands-on experience, and discussion.

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