Can't try too hard to get something that's effortless
Updated: Sep 2, 2022
I live in a culture that praises effort, and thinks anyone who doesn’t is dumb or selling something.
Well, I am selling something, so maybe they’re right.
But also, not everything works that way. It’s true that if you’re building a business, skyscraper, or huge muscles, you need to push. Entropy is conspiring against you, and you need to fight like hell or be swept back to the place where your vision is not reality.
If you try and apply that same strategy to relieving tension, pain, and stress, then you've been successfully brainwashed by the first group of guys who said effort fixes everything.
When you strain and create friction in the way you move and do things, the solution is to stop it. In that game, effort backfires. The effort is the strain and friction. If you “try really hard to stop”, that backfires, because that’s being sneaky about doubling down on effort.
You can do that forever, and it will never work. It isn’t difficult; it’s impossible. There’s no faking it. Doing something is not the same as stopping something.
In the Alexander Technique, you’re learning how to stop the straining you normally do, which results in effortless uprightness. The only way to get something that’s effortless is not to try too hard to get it. Sometimes people call things effortless, but it’s more poetic license than plain description. Not here. Uprightness is natural and effortless in human beings, unless you’re getting in the way, which most of us do. You try too hard to make this work, it backfires.
Effortlessness is tiny, slippery, powerful, and a more radical mental shift than most of us realize.