Connecting Alexander Technique to Preaching- Ingrid Forsyth

As some people know, I am split between two big commitments this year: my Alexander Technique training course and being a resident of Blackburn House. I often find overlap between these areas of my life, and always rejoice when I do. This past Sunday was good example of that. My training course is 12 hours a week and in 3 years, hopefully, I will know enough to be a certified teacher. AT is, in a nutshell, a way of learning how to experience life, instead of just reacting to it. When you begin to learn the art of slowing down and being present, all kinds of healthy by-products show up. I have learned to find my poise which has eradicated all kinds of physical problems (no more wrist pain while playing piano and no more headaches!), anxiety and depression melt away, and there seems to be more time in the day. But most importantly, AT allows me to feel comfortable being myself. That isn’t something I’ve been able to say in a very long time. Much of middle school, high school, and college years were plagued with self-consciousness and self-doubt. I am slowly recovering the real Ingrid., the grace, poise, and exuberance I had as a young child. It is surely a long, windy, and never ending road to awareness and presence, but now that I’ve tasted a part of it, I can’t turn back.

Many AT teachers have a specific aspect to which they apply their awareness and presence. My AT teacher, a cellist, has built a career showing musicians how to play their instruments freely and with ease. Some apply AT to skiing, while others do swimming, dancing, vision, running, public speaking, and so on. But I don’t know of anyone who specializes in applying AT to preaching, praying, or spirituality. After a long weekend of intense AT workshop I had to give my sermon last Sunday. I had had my theme or my sermon for months: the changing of the seasons and how that affects our spirituality. I wanted to directly apply my theme to Michaelmas, a celebration of Autumn we are putting together for next week. Since it was a theme that meant so much to me, I knew I had to do it justice. I had to find a way to express everything I had been feeling internally. Oftentimes when I feel passionate about something, I find it difficult to express because no matter how hard I try, I can’t seem to convey the idea the way I would like. I end up putting it off, hoping I’ll be able to express it better at some later date. This time, as I came into my awareness, my upright self felt the idea go through me, out my arms, hands, and fingers, and onto the paper. It wasn’t perfect, but I didn’t need it to be. When I stood up to speak on Sunday, I had a similar sensation. The idea went through my body and out my mouth. I was comfortable up there, comfortable with myself. I was nervous but it didn’t matter. I felt joy and peace, and I felt whole after the service. Being able to speak confidently to a group of beautiful, loving people was a balm for my soul.

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