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Touch & 'Sense-itivity'

 

Daisy Cockburn reports on third London event at the Friends Meeting House in Westminster, presented by Jill Payne.

 

Another stimulating and enjoyable event was hosted by the Friends of the Alexander Technique at the Friend's Meeting House in London. A mixture of Alexander pupils, teachers and trainees came along to explore the theme of touch and sensitivity.

 

Jill Payne lead the workshop, clearly introducing us to a simple game created by Glen Park to stimulate memory and the senses.  

 

Six tables were placed around the room, each covered with a large sheet of paper, one for each sense: touch, sight, sound, taste, smell and movement. We were asked to make our way round the room and remember our favourite sensory experiences and to ‘graffitise’ the paper with the coloured pens that lay on each table, taking our time to read what others had written, as these fragments might trigger something in us.

 

It wasn’t long before the papers were a bright mass of remembered or imagined sensory experiences. We then divided into groups of three and took turns to sit in a chair, whilst the other two stood by and asked us to remember, either aloud or silently, each of our sensory choices. Without touching the seated person, the standers-by used their hands as ‘ listening hands’ as the sensory experiences were remembered and/or recounted. We were asked to observe whether any changes took place in the person as they remembered or imagined. During the feedback session, many thought-provoking comments were made. Some noticed a connection between the thought and the use of the person, for example as someone remembered a movement, it seemed that the spine ‘went up’. Others noticed that they gained a sense of the individuality of each person through their hands, that each person ‘felt’ different. It seemed for many that all the senses were hard to compartmentalise, that the experiences remembered became total experiences. Someone commented that although none of the remembered sensory experiences -people, landscapes, food, etc. were actually in the room, they were palpable and that thoughts connected with experiences effect us in a subtle way. That our thinking effects us is of course a familiar idea in the Alexander Technique. Also familiar is the notion of ‘listening’ hands.   

 

 © Daisy Cockburn 2008

 

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