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Franis
dialoguers
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From A Dialoguer Who Writes
I'm happy to offer the benefit of my observations. I would love to know how or if you can use what I've been exploring here.

If you'd like to contact me personally to get in touch, check out my website.

August 2009
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Franis [userpic]
Proprioception

Suspension in Dialogue is very similar to a willingness to feel strange during practicing and learning Alexander Technique.

Let's assume the situation of person who has trained themselves to do certain actions to fill a need they define is reasonable or necessary. The habit they've trained themselves to do becomes integrated into their automatic responses. After they learn it, they are not even conscious of the "doing" of it - it can happen every time the situational "trigger" presents itself - or anything similar to the
trigger. An interpretation of meaning is now a reaction that will make the behavior go unto action.

This can be a habitual movement, as in the training of a skill. It can be as innocent as training your arm to hold up a purse - or something you find yourself doing habitually as a mannerism that gets exaggerated the more you repeat it, such as stretching your lips and tensing up your neck or clenching your jaw for no apparent reason.

Then, some time later, another situation comes along that causes the same person to address a second concern, which requires the training of another habit. Let's say this situation requires an opposing movement, opposite from the old habit. Because the first habit has become innate, they've forgotten that they are even doing it - and the sense of them doing it has turned off because they're always repeating it.

The way bodies are made, to make a motion some muscles need to be flexible and others need to be contracted. We're only in change of the "contract" order, in most cases. If someone has trained themselves to always tense up to fulfill a certain imperative or standing order, it can't be so easily undone when it needs to be flexible when flexibility is optimal for doing that opposing motion. The ability to "undo" at will would be a handy thing to (un)do - that's what AT attempts to teach.

So the person finds themselves unable to turn their head if they always tense their neck up and they don't know why they have to move their entire body around to do that thing other people do by turning their head. Or they find that it hurts to turn their head because they're habitually holding their arm up when a purse isn't on it; what they don't feel is how they're also crunching their head into their neck as they hold their arm up. They may have put this habit in place for various
reasons, some of which may be questionable later on. How can they change their mind at this point, once the habit is in place?

It's very tricky to stop what you don't know you're doing. Because people have forgotten they're doing the first habit, they usually just strain themselves, using more force to get themselves to do the second. Essentially, this is one of the most common ways how people pull themselves apart, get old quick and die younger.

If you want a way out of this, it is to re-awaken proprioception that has been shut down from repetition. In Dialogue, David Bohm talks about how Dialogue provides some sort of proprioception of thought.

The way out is to observe, contrast, compare and ask yourself what happened and to experiment often. Usually you don't know what happened because your senses unreliably only register gross differences.

The trick is to use something from your environment to cross-reference what is really happening so you can tell when you have just started to do that old same thing again. Like biofeedback training, only without the equipment. You use the world to help you untrain your awareness that you're doing the habit again - and you stop doing it. You don't substitute anything else - just stop what's in the way. The system will "reset" itself to the extent you can stop the interference. The body heals if you get out of the way and stop tearing it up.

You learn to observe and describe stuff about movement such as quality, sequence, direction and timing of the motion you just made. You leave off the conclusions and judgment, and just learn to describe if anything new happened - after you tried the experimenting.

In Alexander Technique, we do things really slow so the habitual reaction that's looking for a reason or need to go into action gets really impatient. If you keep going v-e-r-y slowly, the fast, speedy habit that wants to go off and "help you" will give up altogether for a time. Sneaking by it, you can do the steps of the action without the habit in the way.

It's a really wierd experience, moving without the habits. Feels easier though - that's how you recognize you've moved differently - the lack of effort. Then you see how long you can suspend the habit and go with the strange sensations of moving so differently. You start to cultivate a tolerance and even a joy for feeling wierd, unfamiliar, and strange.

So - if I were to apply this re-awakening of proprioception in the physical sense to thinking as David Bohm suggests...?