Coronavirus and the New World of Social Distancing


Coronavirus and the New World of Social Distancing

How can we use the Alexander technique to cope the Coronavirus (COVID-19)? One of my students asked me this last week, as the pandemic was just getting started here, or perhaps we could call it the pandemic :-).

Alexander was a champion of human reason, he railed against “emotional gusts” and “prejudice”, and yet it is manifestly difficult to take a reasoned point of view when you have limited information about the real risk, especially when there are people reacting strongly around you. Our minds will use whatever heuristics [1]it can to decide on an attitude or course of action, and that often means jumping to conclusions, making decisions with insufficient information, and deciding what to do on the basis of what other people are doing.

Alexander’s method provides a means by which we can check that process of reacting and jumping too quickly while gathering more information and making a more reasoned decision about your course of action. That is because a strong reaction is a truly whole person event; your heartrate and breathing, the adrenaline levels in your blood, your muscle tension and your perceptions are all involved.

The Alexander technique is renowned in the performing arts world for its ability to promote clarity of thinking, ease and coordination, even in the face of all the stimulus of performance. As Shakespeare said: “All the world’s a stage,

And all the men and women merely players”[2]. In the face of the corona virus (and other such threats) a good dose of inhibition and conscious consideration will serve us all well.

[1] A heuristic is a mental shortcut that allows people to solve problems and make judgments quickly and efficiently (https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-a-heuristic-2795235)

[2] From ‘As You Like It’ William Shakespeare (https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/56966/speech-all-the-worlds-a-stage)