Can You Have Your Cake and Eat It?

‘Let go and float like an embryo/ learn to move forwards with some kind of flow’.

I came up with that line whilst in the woods with the dogs after a trip to the craniosacral therapist. As I lay on his table we had a discussion about not getting anywhere, just being, and in this context we discussed floating. When floating, face down, still, there can be a sense of going back. Back to the womb? To early stages of evolution? It’s a quiet place. We can stay in this quiet place or we can move forward from it.

While I like to emphasise the importance of just floating, Cheryl really values forward movement. We had a good Sunday morning discussion about this.

It’s important for people learning to swim to embrace the support of water instead of seeing it as an obstacle to overcome. From an initial sense of trust in the water, learners can start to move. And movement is always going to be more free and easy when it comes from rest.

But what I’ve been asking myself over the last couple of years is, how does this fit into the plan of swimming for exercise, up and down in a pool or to some outdoor destination?

For me personally, it doesn’t fit. I don’t want to do it. I like walking my dogs and floating about in the sea.  For Cheryl, there’s no reason why it shouldn’t fit. She loved her Strel holiday last year, swimming in the Montenegro Fjords. I think that being in water – floating, doing nothing, movement for movement’s sake – is different from swimming with any kind of agenda. The former activity is much more conducive to freeing your neck. This is obvious but I feel it needs to be emphasised.

The Alexander Technique can be applied to any activity and being in water definitely lends itself to release and expansion. But real Alexander Technique work involves non-doing and direction of energy.  The main selling point of the Alexander Technique is to make life easier, whatever we’re doing. But use of the Alexander work in everyday life is different from what happens in an Alexander lesson, or on an Alexander training course. In other words, there are different levels of application.

So can you have your cake and eat it? Cheryl says yes, you can. ‘Life’s about enjoying cake,’ she just told me.  I’d say, if you want real Alexander Technique in water, floating about with a free neck and playing with movement is a more suitable pursuit than swimming strokes albeitwith better alignment and more release.

I sometimes wonder whether to call what I do ‘Floating without Fear’. But swimming isn’t defined by the competitive strokes, it means simply moving yourself forwards with your limbs. That can be done without stress. And maybe the strokes do evolve naturally out of it, as Cheryl believes.

The conclusion I came to after our Sunday morning discussion was that Cheryl can have her cake and eat it. I’m better off not having any, even if it’s gluten free.

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