It all depends how I look at it. What is happening now? What do I wish to experience? What do I wish to create?
I arrived in Tokyo, Japan, yesterday afternoon. I’ve been brought here in order to share my understanding of the Alexander Technique with groups of Japanese at BodyChance’s Golden Week residential, and to teach a 2-day workshop for musicians. What a wonderful opportunity – how could I have said “no”?
I have a happy propensity to say “yes” to opportunities that come by, because I see them as “once-in-a-lifetime”, and I’ve come to understand that my soul loves the adventure of a good challenge. So, last year when Jeremy Chance offered me the opportunity to come teach in Japan for two weeks, I said “yes” without hesitation.
A similar thing happened to me a few years ago, when I was offered the equally unlikely opportunity to design and implement a research study on Alexander Technique with surgeons at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. I say “unlikely” because in both cases, when offered the opportunity, I felt largely inexperienced and unqualified for the proposed task. In the case of the research study, I had only been teaching AT for a bit over a year; in this case, I’ve been teaching for a bit over eight, but I’m all too aware that the other teachers who are here, and who come here to teach regularly, have been teaching for decades. Not only do I feel like a “baby” teacher in comparison, but I have never taught large groups of students knowledgeable in the Technique before, let alone through a translator.
Yet , for all that, something in me is rising to the occasion and knows that I am actually up for the challenge, and I have the confidence that the trust that has been placed in me is well-founded.
So, in this moment, with jetlag at 3am in my hotel room, I find myself at a crossroads, presented with a choice, as so often happens. I now have the opportunity to choose how to respond to this unfamiliar situation in an unfamiliar land. I could let habit take over in reaction to the experience (which is largely an experience of thoughts about the unknown future up in my head – not a real experience), or I could continue to trust and to stay in the awareness of my experience of the present moment, as I am living the experience. I choose the latter, because the former tends to trigger an unpleasant experience of performance anxiety – something familiar, but not necessarily positive or productive!
As I choose to stay in my awareness of the present moment, observing myself in relationship with my surroundings, I become aware of my wish to “design” my future experience; I would like to have a clear intention or goal for the two weeks ahead.
Here is some of what I intend:
- I intend to continue bringing myself back to my awareness of the experience of the present moment, remembering to do this often, with trust.
- I intend to focus on “sharing” my experience and my perspective on the Alexander Technique, rather than focusing on the idea of “teaching” the Technique. This helps me to connect with my students with less pressure to “perform”. We are all simply humans, having a human experience, exchanging ideas about the Alexander Technique and music.
- This intention to share and exchange implies an openness to learn from one another. I choose to learn from my students so that I can become more responsive to their experience, and as a result, better able to communicate my ideas in ways that they can more easily understand and relate to.
- I release myself from any expectations I might have of myself that are not compatible with who I am in this present moment. I am free to be me, at all times, in all situations. Just as those I am with are free to be who they are, having their own, unique experience of the present moment.
- I intend to trust myself and that which supports me at all times, including the past which has brought me to this present moment.
- I intend to thoroughly ENJOY myself and my students, with gratitude and appreciation for all that has brought us together!
In a nutshell, this is the kind of experience I hope to have over the next couple of weeks in Japan. I’m excited to see how it goes!