You see, goal-setting itself is not the problem. The ambition to crawl, to walk, to run, and even to rocket into space is largely noble, and indeed necessary for the development of our species. But whenever thoughtfulness is replaced by greed, whenever presence of mind is replaced by primitive and aggressive instinct - only then do we see the inevitable consequences of acting from a place of “Fear” rather than “Trust”.
You might have heard of some of the effects of the Startle or “Fight or Flight” reflex: an increased heart rate, the secretion of adrenaline and other stress hormones, higher blood pressure and muscular tightening. But what is less understood is the role that habit has to play in one's ability to release the startle pattern and to return the Self to a psycho-physically neutral baseline. The Alexander Technique helps to bring about this release.
It begins with an almost imperceptible stiffening of the neck. And follows with a shortening of stature that ever so slightly interferes with how you move.
And this - in its very simplest essence - is what we call “End-Gaining”. Ever wonder what end-gaining looks like? Look around! We all do it. We grip the steering wheel, clench our jaw, bear down on ourselves when trying to exercise, stoop mindlessly in front of computer screens. End-gaining is the primary orientation of our species particularly in the so-called “Developed” world.
Our very own ambitions - from the modest to the grand - trigger us to animate our bodies without being mindful of the manner in which we do so. Over time this way of being causes pain. Pain is simply the body's way of telling you that something is wrong. But pain can also become emotional, societal, even environmental. Pain on this scale is the direct result of someone somewhere stiffening their neck!
I invite anyone reading these words to contemplate the manner in which your head balances at the very top of your neck. And to think about releasing the tension in your neck so that your head moves in a direction “forward and up” away from the shoulders.
It seems to me that end-gaining will always trump non-doing. After all, this is the reason why we are all speaking English as opposed to say, Iroquois, Zulu, or Warlpiri. But I hold out hope that non-doing will enter the minds and consciousness of those individuals who could exert a more thoughtful influence over the course of events that influence all of our lives. Plus, you'll look taller too!
As usual, thank you for stopping by!