If you’ve ever been in your car when suddenly the person in front of you slams on the brakes, the typical reaction is to gasp—taking a quick in-breath.
“It’s a natural response,” says Edward Bilanchone, a long-time instructor of breath and movement using the Alexander Technique. The quick inhale brings more oxygen in and sets off a flood of hormones (adrenaline) that heighten our senses and help us respond quickly. “It helps us survive,” he said in an interview on NPR.
How we can begin to notice this response?
The problems arise when that same flood of reactions happen in situations that are not near collisions. For example, you’re driving along and tighten all your muscles because a few years ago you had an accident at this corner. We may not know why chronic stress sets in. The extra interference can become a part of us that we never release. We may notice we interfere with our breathing, hold our breath. Some people are always in this emergency mode, sometimes they have done it so long they don’t realize it and wonder why they have so much tension and pain. Sometimes they credit it to their age, no matter what age they are. They begin to feel like victims.
F.M. Alexander called this: An unduly excited fear reflex
The principals of thinking that Alexander evolved, provide a reliable strategy you can employ to evaluate what is happening so you can respond appropriately in a given situation. So that you can take charge, choose to respond to stimuli in a constructive way.