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End-gaining 1

edited March 2006 in Learning
Can someone please explain why Alexander objects to end-gaining?

Thank you,


  • edited December 1969
    Nothing wrong with endgaining when it gets you where you want to go. (Except for the unwanted side effects.) Most people assume that the side effects are necessary and justify them with the desire for the goal. In AT we know the unwanted side effects most often don't have to be there.

    I remember Jeremy Chance, (now the head of training at a course in Japan) once had a group of us all playing the game of "Red Light, Green Light" to illustrate how the paradoxes of endgaining work. The rest of us were moving ever so imperceptably with all of our AT directing, because we suspected the person who was "it" couldn't see us actually moving if we used AT to move with. The eight year old who was far behind the rest of us, ran up and tagged the person in the front when they were turning around because they weren't keeping their eye on her. It was a great demonstration about how endgaining actually works.

    Endgaining does work - that's why it's the strategy of choice for most. Inspirations to "go for it" work IF you're familiar with the appropriate means and the crucial factors and they just need to be recombined, focused with some confidence. Endgaining works because you've practiced. Unfortunately, people learn whatever they allow themselves to repeat, and that often includes repeating mistakes.

    Doing what you know best also tends to displace any other possible means, especially when that possibility is new and probably fragile and you're not very practiced at sustaining the new way. If you are busy doing what you've always done, then there is no room for anything different to happen.

    Often, the point of AT is to open up the possibility of an alternate pathway that may take you to a completely different objective, similar to your original goal.

    See - you asked a question, I gave an answer, now we'll see if they have anything to do with each other...


    How about some more questions?

    What I always wanted to know was, "Why is the easiest way always the best way in AT?"

    "Does doing AT make you fat because you're not using as much effort to move around?"
  • edited December 1969
    About the last two questions:

    "Why is the easiest way always the best way in AT?"

    I think the 'AT way' is the easiest because maybe you already know how to do what you want to do in the most efficient way possible. You don't have to learn how to do things 'the best way' because if you are well-made, you already know how. You do, however, have to remove all the interferences, limitations and habits you put in the way of your own success. This means doing less, enabling 'the right thing to do itself' -- which is bound to be easier.

    "Does doing AT make you fat because you're not using as much effort to move around?"

    Do you know anyone who got fat from AT? Perhaps the effect on muscle energy consumption could be significant. But how would you separate out the whole reappraisal of all your psycho-physical habits -- including the quantity and quality of your eating and moving -- with the (perhaps more minor, specific) effects of less unnecessary muscular tension, all of which can result from a change of use?

    While there may be less use of energy in moving around, what about the habits that prevent most of your body moving at all? Every part of the human body is designed to be in constant motion, and if we allow that to happen, how will that affect our metabolic rate? What about Alexander's own conclusions (see Man's Supreme Inheritance) about the 'imperfect functioning' and sluggishness of the digestive and metabolic systems when we fail to apply his principles that result in a better use? I think a 'scientific' study of the effect of a change of use on body weight might need to take in an awful lot of different factors.


    Bristol, UK
  • edited December 1969
    That was a fun answer, Steve. Thanks.

    Maybe you're still thinking about what questions that you'd like someone else to answer might be...? I can't wait to see 'em!
  • edited December 1969
    "Why is the easiest way always the best way in AT?" Angel, I agree with Steve - the easiest way is to attempt to inhibit all those thoughts/habits which interfere with our natural poise. In my lessons I find that there is a very fine balance between thinking too much and too little, but when I do find that balance then things begin to happen, often with surprising results. I recently experienced this same thing during a recent Shaw Method lesson and, according to my teacher, it’s unusual in a lesson, presumably because students think too much and are on show. Just when I wasn’t thinking too much about my front crawl kick and rotating body, the two seemed to gel together and I swam a few seconds of perfect Shaw Method. Certainly whilst in the pool on Tuesday evening I noticed that I was swimming in a much more fluid way than previously.

    "Does doing AT make you fat because you're not using as much effort to move around?" Well, I’ve always been a perfect size 6 (US 4, I guess) and since having had Alexander Technique lessons since March have not noticed anything different whatsoever with regard to my weight. Using less effort does not mean that one is in a static position; on the contrary, I find that I am far more mindful of remaining mobile and that my body needs movement, whether it be walking or swimming. How does this movement affect my metabolic rate? I have a very healthy appetite for one so petite.

  • edited December 1969
    I recently read a report about how in the UK (and presumably other countries too) playparks are increasingly being virtually abandoned by children who (just like me now!) are crouched in front of a screen. It reminded me of playing in the park and how bodies are designed to be in constant motion because, well, live things move and dead things don't! What might Alexander have to say about today's children, seemingly more closely resembling dead bodies than living ones, rigid with tension in front of the playstation? I believe he had a few words to say about 'useless desk work'.
    If only we adults were allowed to be in constant motion too! What interesting places trains, cinemas and offices would be...but we got told to 'stop fidgeting' from an early age, didn't we?
  • doddod
    edited December 1969
    I've only recently come to realise - or remembered - just how much kids move about, having been in a lot of contact with a young baby. He's now five months old and unless he is asleep or feeding he's constantly on the move, within the obvious constraints of not being able to 'get' anywhere.

    Whether it's society or simply age that calms us down, I'm not sure. I've been working on a farm where they keep pigs and the piglets are just like children - always on the move - whereas the sows, who were themselves piglets not so long ago, act like pensioners!

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