by Larry Ball
For me, the primary purpose of the Alexander Technique is to help educate, support, and heal the whole individual.
Today we know that our wholeness is a necessary element in the education, support, and healing of the whole individual.
I join with John Dewey’s belief in the profound value of Alexander’s work: “The technique of Mr. Alexander gives to the educator a standard of psycho-physical health – in which what we call morality is included. It supplies the ‘means whereby’ this standard may be progressively and endlessly achieved, becoming a conscious possession of the one educated…. It bears the same relation to education that education itself bears to all other human activities.” (emphasis added.) 
The element that stands out most to me from within the classical approach to Alexander’s work is the primary importance of sticking to principle. It is very important to me to keep alive the importance of sticking to principle in my Alexander work and in my life.
John Dewey’s description of the foundational value of Alexander’s work recognizes that Alexander’s work includes our wholeness – our hearts, souls, spirits, sacred bodies, feeling, psyche, oneness with others (Thou Art That), nature, and God. (This describes my understanding of my wholeness. We each may have our own understanding.)
Frank Ottiwell, in giving the first Alexander Memorial Lecture in 1993 at the NASTAT (predecessor to AmSAT) annual meeting, said that he now saw that Alexander’s universal vision was right and that he, and perhaps others, “had been underselling Alexander by narrowing his vision to make it somehow more acceptable.” Frank then said: “I have to ask: Acceptable to whom?” 
The conscious inclusion of our wholeness in Alexander’s work enables each of us to experience the deeper philosophical understanding and universal vision of his work for the greater good of each of us and our Earth. It is by consciously including our wholeness that Alexander’s work can once again be recognized as a fundamental source of education, support, and healing in our world.
The Alexander Technique has suffered great harm for decades because of the rejection by our Alexander community of the value of our wholeness in our Alexander work
With Frank Ottiwell’s insight as my guide, I ask: Why have we as a community - as distinct from individual teachers - ignored the help of our wholeness in our presentation and teaching of Alexander’s work?
For many decades the presentation of Alexander’s work by our Alexander community to the world has been silent on and has implicitly rejected the value of allowing our wholeness to help people better explore, study, and practice Alexander’s work. Instead, our community has encouraged us to focus on the material aspects of our Selves in our Alexander work.
Because of this rejection of our wholeness in our Alexander work and the consequent focus on only our material selves, the deeper vision and potential of Alexander’s work continues to be little known in our Alexander community and our culture. Because of this rejection, Alexander’s work is being discarded and led toward irrelevance in our culture.
When my wholeness is not consciously included in my moments of awareness, choice, action, and movement, I am left with only my material, rational self. In those moments I may no longer see myself as a unique creature of nature and God. Instead, I may become just an example of a human physical body with nerves, bones, brain, connectors, etc. But when I honor and express my individual gifts as this unique creature, I allow myself a place on our Earth to live with my Wholeness. Here, I am free to consciously choose to progressively and endlessly experience the joy of life itself – the choice of living rather than non-living.
Exploring Alexander’s work
Alexander stated: “[My] experience may one day be recognized as a signpost directing the explorer to a country hitherto undiscovered, and one which offers unlimited opportunity for fruitful research to the patient and observant pioneer.”  Alexander saw himself as a signpost; not a destination.
For over 40 years I have taken Alexander’s advice about the future of his work. I have attempted to be an explorer and pioneer of the work he began: to listen, observe, discover, and remember the unlimited knowledge and understanding his work offers. There are many other teachers who have been doing the same.
There are countless writers and teachers available to us to study and learn from in our exploration, study, practice, and teaching of Alexander’s work.
A substantial number of these have helped me create my vision and understanding of Alexander’s work. They include F.M. Alexander, John Dewey, Marjorie Barstow, Joseph Campbell, Carl Jung, David Bohm, Frank Ottiwell, Doris Lessing, William Blake, Kathleen Raine, William James, Lao Tzu, Martha Nussbaum, Aldous Huxley, Krishnamurti, Loren Eisley, June Singer, Ram Dass, James Hillman, Henry Thoreau, Thomas Merton, Jacob Needleman, Frances G. Wickes, Albert Einstein, Alan Watts, Abraham Lincoln, and many others.
Early on in my studies I came to believe that the source of the energy element of Alexander's definition of direction is Life Itself and that nature and God are the “conductors” of Life Itself – not my ego mind.
During these years I have consciously asked for and allowed my wholeness to participate as full partner with Life Itself to help me explore, study, practice and teach Alexander’s work.
William Blake wrote: “Energy is eternal delight.”
Krishnamurti stated that unless our energies are being used in the search for truth, reality and/or God, they are being used destructively.
Walter Carrington, in his talk entitled “At our Mother’s Knee," discussed Alexander’s words on direction and use contained in footnote 1 at page 13 in Alexander’s Use of the Self.  Carrington said, in part:
“The process of conducting the energy, that is what use is all about. It is a process that neither theoretically nor practically do we understand extremely well, but it is such an essential process that we really do need to study it and understand it better.” 
Today in my own practice and teaching, my clearest evidence and experience of the depth and profoundness of Alexander's work arise from my asking for and receiving Life Itself into my wholeness, humanity and Self in my daily exploration of Alexander’s work.
My own direct experience of primary movement is clearest and strongest when I ask Life Itself - rather than my ego mind - for help. I surrender to nature and God. My path unfolds with each step taken. I contemplate and listen to everything that comes to me, as well as I am able. I choose, act, and move from my wholeness. For me, this is the creative act that Alexander’s work engenders in each moment I choose to be conscious and free.
Within this realm of non-doing I heal, become healthy, more fully experience and enjoy living, allow my natural creativity to flourish, allow the evolution of my Self, and choose, act, and move with deeper vitality, attention, understanding, strength, balance, and ease.
In my Alexander practice and teaching, the primary inhibition is to refuse to allow my ego mind to continue to have control of my wholeness and my humanity. This primary inhibition allows my wholeness and my humanity to be free to fully participate in my exploration and practice of Alexander’s work - and in living my life. This primary inhibition also gives me much greater ability and strength to inhibit the insidious habits of our modern, technology-driven, and overwhelmingly materialistic culture.
Through Alexander’s principles I have found that “country hitherto undiscovered” and the opportunity for a greater understanding of the gifts the Alexander Technique offers and much more. Alexander’s work has helped me live a more wondrous, joyful, and healthy life. This has led to a vast improvement and understanding of myself and my responsibility for others and for our Earth.
The need to educate, support and heal the whole individual and not just some of our parts
Because our Alexander community does not include our wholeness as a necessary element in educating, supporting, and healing the whole individual, Alexander’s work continues to be discarded and led toward irrelevance within our culture.
In our dehumanizing and mechanical culture (scientific materialism, separation from nature and God, over-reliance on technology, rejection of heart, soul, and spirit as part of our public discourse and policies, etc.) many people are experiencing trauma and despair from the harm to their hearts, souls, and spirits suffered while living within our culture. In response, people are seeking help in dealing with the myriad problems caused by living in this culture.
The deeper and more profound experiences of Alexander’s work gained by including our wholeness in our Alexander work offer the help many people are seeking while living in today’s culture. These experiences are invaluable. However, in rejecting the value of our wholeness in our Alexander work, our community is not presenting the possibility of these experiences to the public. And because people do not know that Alexander’s work offers them these experiences, people are not looking to the Alexander Technique for this help.
When our wholeness is openly and directly communicated through our touch, words, and presence during our lessons with students, the creative experience received from Alexander’s work is deepened immeasurably. Through this help students are offered an original pathway to receiving the education, support and healing they are seeking.
F.M. Alexander did not openly teach the value of our wholeness to his students in learning his Technique. Alexander did not write of the growth in knowledge and understanding of our consciousness, energy, psychology, philosophy, mythology, physics, and other disciplines in his time. Alexander did not write about the ancient knowledge, traditions, and understandings of our deeper worlds that have come to us from the sages and explorers throughout human existence.
I would not have expected him to do so. He was a Western human, raised and educated in the materialistic culture of his time with all its limitations. Nevertheless, Alexander knew he had discovered from within himself and his culture a number of fundamental and extremely valuable truths about we humans living together on our earth.
In the essay entitled “The Education of an Amphibian”, Aldous Huxley sets forth a detailed description of the benefits offered to us – physical, psychological, spiritual, essence, the transcendent within each of us, etc. – by Alexander’s work. 
Of the Alexander Technique, Patrick McDonald wrote: “Good health is priceless and this technique lays the best possible foundation for good health. If one is mis-using oneself it must be an advantage to be able to correct this misuse.” He wrote that many of the passages in Zen in The Art of Archery (by Eugene Herigal) might have been written by Alexander himself. He wrote that Alexander’s work “…provides a spiritual calm and confidence that makes living a pleasure and not an existence.”
I have already related John Dewey’s beliefs about Alexander’s work, at the beginning of this article.
Alexander planted the seeds for becoming conscious of Life Itself and our Wholeness within his work. Dewey, McDonald, Huxley, and others realized this. And Alexander acknowledged that his work was not finished, that there was more to discover, that his work needed to evolve and grow. He encouraged explorers and pioneers to carry on that evolution and growth. This is the challenge that we, as teachers of his work, have before us today.
Alexander’s work provides primary help for us with the use and functioning of our Selves. Today – as distinct from 1890, 1920 or 1955 – we know that our Selves include our Wholeness. The Use of the Self does not mean Use of part of the Self. It is not logical nor reasonable for our community to ignore our Wholeness in our Alexander work.
My own experience of Alexander’s work
In all these 40 plus years it has never been scientific theories nor education theories nor other intellectual information that have created and nurtured my love of Alexander’s work. Rather, it has been the evolving direct experiences of a much deeper realm of being and consciousness than I ever imagined existed within myself and others. These are experiences of vitality, of joy, of love, of transcendence, of poetry, of essence, of nature, of imagination, of intuition, of my sacred body, of inspiration, of heavenly play – of Life Itself.
These deeper experiences have come to me through the help of Life Itself and my wholeness in my exploration, study, and practice of the principles of Alexander’s work in my everyday life.
Nature and God are always with me. When I stand in front of a tree (the older the wiser) and allow myself to feel and sense the life of that tree from my Wholeness, and communicate with that tree from my Wholeness, I learn more about the use of myself than from any intellectual source. Trees share our life on Earth and have much to teach us. All experiences of consciously being with nature offer us these gifts.
Since my deeper experiences come from my wholeness, I attempt to be conscious of my wholeness every day, moment by moment. This continued attempt is extremely helpful in my Alexander work.
Because we all have within us essentially the same gifts from nature and God, I believe these direct deeper experiences of being and consciousness are examples of the same phenomena that our sages and explorers through ancient times to today speak of with awe, joy and gratitude.
The source of these phenomena does not lie within my brain nor my musculature nor my nervous system nor my bones, nor my chemistry.
The source of these phenomena lies within the existence of our individual and community wholeness as humans on our Earth – humans that are expressions of Life Itself. It is paramount for me to seek these deeper experiences from their source.
Alexander’s work has shown me a way in which I am able – if I make that choice – to consciously allow my wholeness into each moment of my life. I am not claiming to be hugely successful with this opportunity. It is a life-long work in progress. However, I do perceive a way and assiduously continue the attempt. And wonderfully, the discipline of the attempt brings me immense joy and peace in living here on our Earth.
As it happens, it is only we humans who even have the choice of denying our Wholeness by refusing to be conscious of Its’ presence in all of existence. Despite that denial, and the consequent reluctance to be one with Life, Life is always here to grant us grace and help, if we but ask for and choose to receive it.
 F. Matthias Alexander, The Use of the Self (Weybridge Surrey: Re-Educational Publications, Ltd., 1955), xxi.
 AmSAT Journal, Issue No. 9, Spring 2016, 21.
 F. Matthias Alexander (ed. Edward Maisel), The Resurrection of the Body, (New York: Dell Publishing Co., Inc., 1978), front page before Preface.
 June K. Singer, The Unholy Bible, (Harper Colophon, 1973), p. 61 and Plate 4.
 J. Krishnamurti, ed. D. Rajagopal, Think on These Things, (New York: Perennial Library, 1970), 225.
 F. Matthias Alexander, The Use of the Self, (Weybridge Surrey: Re-Educational Publications, Ltd., 1955), 13.
 Walter Carrington ed. Jerry Sontag, Thinking Aloud, (San Francisco: Mornum Time Press, 1997, 23.
 Aldous Huxley, Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow, (The New American Library, 1964), 9-31.
 Patrick McDonald, The Alexander Technique As I See It (Brighton: Rahula Books, 1989), xiii, 85.
John Dewey: The Use of the Self by F. Matthias Alexander, Introduction by John Dewey, page xxi (Re-Educational Publications, Ltd. Reprinted 1955)
Frank Ottiwell: AmSAT Journal, Issue No. 9, Spring 2016, p. 21
F.M. Alexander: The Use of the Self by F. Matthias Alexander, Introduction by John Dewey, page 13, ft. 1 (Re-Educational Publications, Ltd. Reprinted 1955)
McDonald: The Alexander Technique As I See It by Patrick MacDonald, page xiii, page 85 (Rahula Books l989)
William Blake: The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, The Voice of the Devil, Plate 4 (from The Unholy Body – A Psychological Interpretation of William Blake by June K. Singer, p.61 (Harper Colophon edition 1973)
Krishnamurti: Think on These Things by J. Krishnamurti (ed. By D. Rajagopal), 24. The Energy of Life, Page 225 (published 1970 by Perennial Library Harper & Row)
Aldous Huxley: Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow and other essays by Aldous Huxley, The Education of an Amphibian pages 9-31 (published by The New American Library 1964)
Walter Carrington: Thinking Aloud by Walter Carrington, At Our Mother’s Knee, p.23 (published