Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Marjorie Barstow

American Master of the Alexander Technique

"Beautiful young people are accidents of nature. But beautiful old people are works of art."

"There is nothing to get, there is only something to lose."

"There isn't anything either right or wrong when dealing with co-ordination. There are degrees of movement. Life is really moving from one position to another. We never stop and say, "This is right--this is my posture, this is the way I ought to be". If we do that, we're stiff trying to hold that posture. It isn't natural for our bodies to be held in positions."

"Can you leave yourself alone?"

"Learn to laugh at yourselves: you always move better with a smile."

"CONSTRUCTIVE CONSCIOUS CONTROL... CONSTRUCTIVE: because we are changing something in ourselves which is ineffective, harmful. CONSCIOUS: because we become aware of what we are doing. CONTROL: because we are redirecting energy and bringing freedom into the whole mechanism."

"When I find myself pushing, I have not taken the time to see where I am before I start to move."

"I can’t teach anything that I haven’t done myself. I may not always do it, you know we don’t always do what we should (life would be very dull if we did). But I know when I want to have more freedom, I know what I can do and what I must do, then I make the choice of whether or not to do it."

"All you want is a little bit of nothing--but the trouble with all you people is that you all want something. And that something is your habit."

"At some point you have to say, ?I am tired of hurting myself.?"

"Can you delicately move with my hands, just a little bit, this way?"

"All you'll get is the absence of what you had."

"Did you see that? (addressing those watching.) What did you notice? (addressing the student as well as the group.)"

"Emotions are a part of your mental activity."

"Even those positions of mechanical advantage are movements."

"Forget all that, it belongs to the past. As soon as you get a good experience, instead of using it, you say "Oh--I usually do this and this and this." And the new experience just washes away."

"He creates a feeling which stiffens the direction."

"He puts the mental state at the end of the process--that's upside down."

"He was scared as he was keeping his mind on what was bothering him, instead of looking for what to change."

"How we get ourselves into this mess I don't know; but this is a way to get out."

"I am not making a mechanical person out of them: I want my students to know what I am doing; know how they experience it; talk it over with them."

"I don't let you take all that time before you start because you're trying to feel you're right and that's end-gaining."

"I don't know why you are pushing there? You've got some kind of idea--let's see what your idea is."

"I'm not interested in little pieces of tension--it's my whole head and my whole body."

"Inhibition is the activity by which the old habit cannot take place."

"It is the delicacy of the movement that will give you your release."

"It's only if she starts pulling down that her attention needs to go to her head and neck."

"I don't want you to have a picture--I want you to know you're doing it."

"If you are up, because you are afraid to be down, then you are not up, (lightly, effortlessly, and powerfully suspended and supported from within). If you are ?up? but you don?t feel up, then you are not up. You might as well just stop trying to be up and take a good slump."

"If you memorize your feeling you'll never change."

"I don't work on the table. I think the Alexander Technique is about movement. I like to work with my pupils in their daily activities... I don't believe in giving lessons in silence because I want to know what my pupils are thinking. I am not making a mechanical person out of them: I want my student to know what I'm doing; know how they experience it; talk it over with them."

"I wonder what would happen if, ever so delicately, you let your whole head move ever so slightly away from your body and immediately let your whole body follow?"

"It's so simple it's shocking."

"Marj: "Why aren't you moving?" Pupil: "I thought about not stopping my head." Marj: "There's that negative thought--that's why you stiffened. That's why I let you talk--you give yourselves away.""

"Maybe he was pulling his head back a little--but he got a little improvement."

"My job is to help make you sensitive. What you do with your sensitivity is your own business."

"Nothing will move if you don't engage their mind."

"Once the pupil sees it for himself, he can make the change without any trouble."

"Our voices are talking to your thinking apparatus; our hands are talking to your sense of feeling."

"People love complicated things--but this is so simple, people think it's hard."

"Pupil: "I move my head but I'm not sure." Marj: "You're never sure. You move your head and you see what happens." Pupil: "I'm going to move my head and not pull down." Marj: "You let that little word 'not' slip in and your habit slips in. Say instead 'I'm going to move my head and see what happens' and carry on your constructive thinking through the act.""

"I'm so practical, I shouldn't be living!"

"Pupil: "My feelings are confused." Marj: "So long as your thinking isn't confused, you're OK.""

"She let her feeling decide instead of her thinking."

"So you are learning less and less about yourself, and more and more about what is possible."

"Spend a little time in conversation finding out what the person is learning..."

"The head tilts a little as it moves up--I don't know myself if the tilt forward moves the head up or if the upward movement tilts the head forward?"

"The 'magic', if you want to call it magic, is your constructive thinking."

"The only time I fussed with you about feeling is when you set yourself to feel right."

"There is no right place, there is just a little bit more ease."