Inhibition and Direction = primary flow

June 2, 2017 by Nicholas Brandon

Inhibition and Direction = primary flow.

Inhibition and Direction are at the heart of F.M Alexander’s discoveries; and when practised and applied to your daily activities; you will begin re-discover your poise, presence, balance and ease.

So what do these principle procedures mean? And how can they be of  benefit.

Inhibition simply means stopping or pausing before you move, react or go into an activity. Inhibition is not to be confused with the Freudian meaning, where we feel inhibited or shy. The developer of the Alexander Technique used this meaning long before the famous psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud.

As you begin to notice some of your movements, and how much effort you apply to an activity, you will then have an opportunity to inhibit (Stop or pause). This creates the possibility of a responding, acting or moving in a more conscious and poised manner.

 Awareness is fundamental to noticing your actions, reactions, and habits.

Alexander said,“ the work” is primarily about how we choose to respond to our own thoughts and emotions, to sensations, to appetite, sexuality, discomfort, fatigue and pain, how do we choose to respond to criticism, to praise, to deadlines, to the wind?

How do we interact? How do we adapt? How do we relate? How do we receive? How do we play the game?

So very simply if we stop or pause there is that magical moment of awareness, and in that moment we have choice, where can direct the course of our thinking or actions, we can choose a new plan of coordinating ourselves. This has the potential to stop harmful habits that limit and diminish your poise and get in the way of your ability to fully express yourself and feel alive.

 We are bombarded with a constant stream of internal and external stimuli.

Stopping or pausing creates a space, a clearing, and a space of nothing, a clean slate, and an opportunity to create something new – choosing a new path, direction, or response.

The famous psychiatrist Viktor Frankl’s – (Auschwitz Holocaust survivor) quote sums up Inhibition and direction perfectly: See picture below.


Directions and inhibition are interlinked and work together.

Alexander described the Primary Directions as “an ideal state of ease, freedom and expansion in the human organism. The directions are never something you try to “do”, but rather a flow of conscious thought that’s directed from the mind to the various parts of the body (the directions are a way to prevent you from unnecessarily tensing or collapsing) while in activity.

They are as follows: I allow my neck to be free,

So that my head can release forward and up,

So that my entire torso can lengthen and widen,

So that my knees can release forward and away,

(Forward and away means specifically that your knees release forward from your hip joints and away one from the other)

So that my heels can release down (into the floor or ground)

Keeping in mind that the Directions are preventative by nature, you can also think of them as: I won’t stiffen my neck, I won’t pull my head back and down, I won’t shorten my spine or narrow my back, I won’t lock the back of my knees and tilt toward my hips, I won’t pull my knees in toward each other. I won’t stiffen my legs and feet.

Instead I’ll let my weight pass through my spine, pelvis, legs and feet so that I can release up and away from the ground.

Whenever you see anybody moving with great ease, confidence, balance and coordination, they are usually moving in the manner described here in the Primary Directions (whether conscious of it, or not).

A great place to start to practice the directions is when you lie down in constructive rest or walking. As you begin to practice you will begin to notice how much more release and expansion you get. Notice how your breathing gets easier. Notice how you calm down. Notice how you become more present, more connected to yourself and your surroundings. If you practice daily, your ability to direct yourself gets clearer, stronger and more efficient.

Make a commitment to use yourself more consciously in your activities. Practice using them as you cook, drink tea, talk, walk, work at the computer, and sing anything can be made easier by directing yourself in a conscious way.



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