Psychophysical Education (2): Definition & Background

Psychophysical Education (2): Definition & Background

In the first part of this series on psychophysical education, we saw that psychophysical does not refer to the interaction between mental and physical factors, nor the overall effect a practice may have on one’s general attitude and outlook…

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Psychophysical Education: An Introduction

What is psychophysical education, and why is it important? Perhaps more than anything else, the term “psychophysical education” describes what is most essential and revolutionary about our work at the Institute and at Columbia Teachers College, where we are trying to describe an aspect of child development that is completely misunderstood and badly needed…

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Meet the Scholar, Support the Program!

Meet the Scholar, Support the Program!

This week, we are proud to introduce our doctoral student to all of you and announce that Teachers College has established an endowment fund to support research in Psychophysical Education. Our hope is that this fund will eventually provide sustaining support not just for our student, Ms. Fenamore, but for future scholars interested in carrying on her work in Psychophysical Education. Meet the scholar…

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The Psychology of Everyday Action (Ideomotor Action, Part 5)

The Psychology of Everyday Action (Ideomotor Action, Part 5)

Like other actors and voice professionals before him, Alexander studied movement and breathing. But his discovery of the primary control, and the difficulties he encountered in preventing his harmful manner of use, led him into the much broader region of volition and action, placing his work not in the field of movement and tension, but squarely in psychology…

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Ideomotor Action, Part 3

Ideomotor Action, Part 3

Our recent post on ideomotor action has inspired a few questions on the emotional aspects of use, and the ways in which ideomotor action affects the psychophysical system as a functional whole. In particular, we were asked whether emotions have an effect on our physical responses as conveyed through ideomotor acts, and if there are broader repercussions than were described previously…

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Ideomotor Action, Part 2

Ideomotor Action, Part 2

Last week, we talked about ideomotor action, where the term came from, and its relationship to habit. Neuroscience has proven that this link between thought and action does exist, and that it’s the reason why we don’t have to think through the minutia of physical activity. The idea to “throw the ball” is linked with a series of motor acts that include how your fingers wrap around the ball, the twist of your arm, when you let go, how much force you use, etc, so that you need only to decide where to aim and how far to throw. But many of those coordinated acts were learned and embedded with habits that are unique to the individual and which are now inextricably linked to the original idea.

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Ideomotor Action

Ideomotor Action

In our last post, we talked a bit about inhibition, which we defined as refusing to consent to the idea of doing something. In this post, we’ll talk about ideomotor action and look at the deep connection between mind and body as it relates to inhibition…

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What is Inhibition?

What is Inhibition?

Inhibition is central to the problem of coordinating the system in action because it is the means by which we stop the harmful habits of use which we all have…

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The Whispered “Ah” and Controlled Exhalation

The Whispered “Ah” and Controlled Exhalation

The most basic element of the whispered “ah” is the controlled exhalation, which as we read earlier is the true foundation for breath support. A simple way of understanding the controlled exhalation is to think of it in terms of not holding the breath. If you lift a heavy object or prepare to speak, you’ll notice that the initial response is to stiffen and hold the breath. If, at the moment you begin to hold the breath, you stop and let the breath out slowly through your lips or teeth, you are performing a controlled exhalation. Controlling the exhalation in this way allows us to shift our attention away from holding or taking breath (which is the universal tendency), and instead to focus on letting the breath out…

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What is psychophysical health?

What is psychophysical health?

The term “psychophysical” does not refer to the connection between body and mind but represents a new paradigm that makes it possible to conceive of a person as a total system in which mental and physical elements operate as an entire acting/reacting organism…

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How to: Conscious Attention

How to: Conscious Attention

If you read this previous post, you’ll remember the importance we place on conscious attention in this work. So what does it mean to Attend—that is, how do we attend consciously?

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The Skill of Conscious Attention

The Skill of Conscious Attention

So, whether it is conscious or unconscious, you are directing all the time. In the absence of conscious direction, you will direct unconsciously, and this means that the moment you become unconscious your muscles will contract again. We can’t just direct here and there and expect it to work for us; we have to learn to sustain direction because our old direction is always fighting to come through….

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The Anatomy of Directing: Conclusion

The Anatomy of Directing: Conclusion

Thanks for following along with our Anatomy of Directing series; we hope you found it useful. If you’ve missed some of the posts, you can find them all here. Anyone wishing to better understand how to put the principles of neurodynamics into practice will benefit from a foundational knowledge of anatomy and design….

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(Ted Talk) On Taking Time to Stop

(Ted Talk) On Taking Time to Stop

In this fast-paced, media driven, modern society, we all place value on moving fast and getting things done, but do you ever make time to stop? In this short talk given at the Institute, Dr. Dimon discusses the need to stop often in every-day life…

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The Anatomy of Directing: Leg Spiral Exercise

The Anatomy of Directing: Leg Spiral Exercise

In our last Anatomy of Directing post, we walked through a few simple knee directing exercises. We also spoke about the leg spirals, and this week, we’d like add one additional exercise that specifically accesses the spirals…

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Neurodynamics Talk & Toast: Q&A Video With Dr. Dimon

Neurodynamics Talk & Toast: Q&A Video With Dr. Dimon

Teachers College, Columbia University hosted this intimate book talk with Dr. Dimon at their Gottesman Libraries on March 23rd, 2016. In this 50 minute video, Dr. Dimon reads and discusses a short excerpt from his book and then answers questions from a moderator and from the audience. He tells us the story of how he first became fascinated by the subject of psychophysical education, explains why we face a crisis of ownership and responsibility, and shares his hopes for the classroom of tomorrow.

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THE ANATOMY OF DIRECTING: The Knees & Leg Spirals

THE ANATOMY OF DIRECTING: The Knees & Leg Spirals

The directions for the knees to go forward and away seems simple enough, at one level. We tighten in the hips and legs and need to release those muscles to let the knees go away from the body (that’s the “forward”) and away from each other (that’s the “away”). And because we are speaking here about an extremity that is associated with visible and voluntary movement, there is no difficulty in identifying where the knees are and where they need to go. The tricky part is that most of us are not aware of how much we tighten and shorten in the hips and legs…

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The Anatomy of Directing: the Arms & Shoulder

The Anatomy of Directing: the Arms & Shoulder

The shoulder girdle acts as a kind of cross-piece for supporting the arms, which are levers for moving the hand. Because the chest is rather wide, we might assume that the rib cage is wide at the shoulders as well, and that the shoulders somehow hang from the rib cage. Surprisingly, the upper rib cage is very narrow, and it is the shoulder girdle itself, and all the muscles attaching to the shoulder girdle and upper arm, that give breadth to the upper torso…

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The Anatomy of Directing: The Throat (Forward & Up, Part 2)

The Anatomy of Directing: The Throat (Forward & Up, Part 2)

In books on movement and anatomy, the throat is often overlooked because it is not considered to be part of the movement system. But we must remember that, as part of the flexor sheet on the front of the body, the throat is involved in many everyday movements, not to mention speech. And because it is connected with head balance, it also profoundly affects the larger movement system and comes into play as we direct, which is why we have to know something about how it works…

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The Anatomy of Directing: Forward & Up

The Anatomy of Directing: Forward & Up

Now that we’ve identified some the key anatomical landmarks and their role in directing, let’s look at the directions for the head: forward and up. These directions are key to establishing the correct working of the primary control, and often cause particular difficulty for students because of their nuance. In a general way, we know that “forward and up” of the head means that we don’t want to pull the head back and down. But why do we use these words, and what exactly do we mean by them…

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The Anatomy of Directing: Front Length

The Anatomy of Directing: Front Length

One of the most important features of our human anatomical design is our front length. When the first hominids reared up on their hind limbs to become fully upright, everything suspended below the spine- the guts, rib cage, etc- now hung out in front of the spine. This means that we are not evenly balanced front-to-back. This places the onus of support on our back muscles (the extensors) to keep us standing, and they can work properly only when the whole system is lengthening and the back muscles are doing their job in this context…

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The Anatomy of Directing: The Hip Joints

The Anatomy of Directing: The Hip Joints

When asked where the hip joints are located, many people point to the pelvic bones—the big, bony rim along the top of your pelvis that forms your waist. Technically speaking, twhere is the hip?hese are not your hips but the crest of the pelvic or iliac bones; the word “hip,” as any doctor will tell you, refers not to the iliac crest but to the hip joint…

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The Anatomy of Directing: Skull & Atlas

The Anatomy of Directing: Skull & Atlas

The most important cervical vertebra is the very first one, called the “atlas” because, it supports the globe of the head as the Greek titan Atlas supported the Earth on his shoulders. 1d-Atlanto-occipitalThe atlas vertebrae forms a joint with the base of the skull called the atlanto-occipital (or AO) joint, where two bumps on the base of the skull sit nicely in two concave depressions on the atlas. We nod our heads by articulating at this point…

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The Future of Education (AT Congress, 2015)

The Future of Education (AT Congress, 2015)

Imagine, if you will, a classroom full of children. These children are not 4 or 5; these children are 10 and 12, 14 and 16; and they aren’t just engaged in activities but paying attention to themselves in a way that has virtually never happened in a public school classroom. Their teacher is likewise concerned not just with what they are learning but with the quality of how they engage in their activities, because she (or he) has an awareness of the child’s whole system and appreciates that it is the true foundation for whatever the child does. This is a truly enlightened approach to education that takes into account the child’s emotional, intellectual, and psychophysical development, encouraging the fullest development of the child and not simply focusing on end-goals and accomplishments…

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The Anatomy of Directing: Spine & Back

The Anatomy of Directing: Spine & Back

Most of us are aware of the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar curves of the spine (the articulated vertebrae that make up the bendable parts of the spine), but we sometimes forget that, where it attaches to the pelvis at its bottom end, the spine forms a fourth curve. What this means is that the spine and back do not end at the lumbar or waist region but include the entire bottom end of the sacrum and pelvis…

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The Anatomy of Directing: Introduction

The Anatomy of Directing: Introduction

A key principle of neurodynamics is the recognition that the muscular system is dynamically organized according to the relation of body parts. In this series, which was written as part of the Da Vinci Project and acts as an addendum to the book on neurodynamics, we will look at some of the key elements of our anatomy as it relates to directing and then apply this knowledge with some practical exercises, beginning with the back, spine, and head.

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Alexander Technique: A Field, Not a Method (Part 2)

Alexander Technique: A Field, Not a Method (Part 2)

In the last post, we discussed how we as teachers think about the Alexander Technique as a set of principles. Recently, I have heard our work spoken of as a kind of kinesthetic re-education based on correcting inaccurate body schema in order to bring about improved muscle tone. This definition sounds very plausible…

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Alexander Technique: A Field, Not a Method

Alexander Technique: A Field, Not a Method

We often speak of our work as a set of principles that can be applied to the use of ourselves in any activity, all working around the concept of the primary control. But describing our what we do in these terms, while useful up to a point, has greatly limited the scope and purpose of our work, which is based on key discoveries that go far beyond the practice of principles…

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Kinesthetic Thinking: Thoughts on Directing from “Neurodynamics”

Kinesthetic Thinking: Thoughts on Directing from “Neurodynamics”

What does it mean to “think” the directions? When we conceive of muscle activity, or the ability to influence muscle tone, we normally think in terms of actions- like raising the arm- that produce a definite contraction, or tensing, of the muscle. Being asked to simply “think” of allowing the head to go forward and up seems, in contrast, vague and intangible…

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Neurodynamics: An Introduction

Neurodynamics: An Introduction

Ted’s theory of Neurodynamics is based on two key principles: the musculoskeletal system and how it is designed to function, and our potential to gain greater awareness and control over the muscular system in action…

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Philosophy of Human Design

Philosophy of Human Design

The human design is the result of billions of years of evolution. Although the modifications leading to humans can be understood as the result of incremental changes taking place through natural selection, the Darwinian model cannot fully explain the design systems that emerge as a result of this process, such as upright posture, vision, and consciousness…

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Design In Health

Design In Health

The human body functions as a complex psychophysical whole, and understanding this system requires a knowledge of how it is designed for movement, how action is produced, and how to gain greater awareness and control of this system in action…

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Organization of Movement (4 papers)

All human movement contains a basic organizing principle, an active force that ensures effortlessness, vitality, and optimal control. This principle is the foundation for healthful functioning throughout life; it is also the basic mechanism over which we must gain control as the basis for higher levels of awareness and skill…

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A New Model of Man’s Conscious Development

A New Model of Man’s Conscious Development

A New Model of Man’s Conscious Development with Theodore Dimon This talk was given at Columbia Teachers College in April 2015. It explores a new model of health that includes conscious development and an understanding of how we function as a psychophysical whole...

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Alexander Technique : A New Principle of Human Behavior

Alexander Technique : A New Principle of Human Behavior

Alexander Technique : A New Principle of Human Behavior with Theodore Dimon This talk was given to the AT Friends in London in May 2011. It examines why F.M. Alexander’s discoveries represent a revolutionary body of knowledge that makes significant contributions to...

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FPJ Archives 1: Correspondence

Folder 1: Works by F.M. Alexander Autobiography and chronology Respiratory Re-education, 1907 F.M.A. listing in Who Was Who Introduction to a New Method of Respiratory Re-education, 1906 An Unrecognized Principle in Human Behavior Report of a Lecture by F.M.A., 1934...

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FPJ Archives 2: Research

Folder 1 1960 STAT Constitution and By-laws; letters; Legal information regarding what constitutes the practice of medicine; Minutes, ATA’s fIrst meeting April, 1980. Folder 2: Startle Pattern photographs — 1964. Folder 3: Startle Pattern: guide sheets and data Folder...

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FPJ Archives 3: Grant Proposals

Folder 1: Carnegie Grant Proposal, (6/3/54), “An Experimental Study in the Psychophysiology of Posture,” and correspondence Folder 2: Reports to Tufts on research projects (6/16/55) Folder 3: Technical paper by Jones and O’Connell given to the Photographic Society of...

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FPJ Archives 4: Papers on the Alexander Technique (2)

Folder 1 Mixon, Don, The Place of Habit in the Control of Action, 1979 Folder 2 Tresemer, D., The Scythe Book Folder 3 Turbayne, J., “John Dewey and F. Matthias Alexander,” term paper, 1948 Folder 4 Man-Tech (1972), Inhibition of Stress Responses, paper concerning the...

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FPJ Archives 5: Related Papers (Cont.)

Folder 1:   K Folder 2:   Klimowsky Folder 3:   Kuffler and Hunt Folder 4:   Lacey, J.I. Folder 5:   L Folder 6:   M Folder 7:   Malmo, R.B. Folder 8:   Margolis, H. Folder 9:   Maslow, A.H. Folder 10:   McFarland, R.A. Folder 11:   McLaughlin, S.A. Folder 12:  ...

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FPJ Archives 6: Masters theses and doctoral dissertations

Armstrong, Joe, Effects of the Alexander Principle in Dealing with Stress in Musical Performance, Master’s Thesis, Tufts University, 1975. Brown, Richard Alvin, Effects of Progressive Relaxation and the Alexander Technique on Response to Experimental Pain, Master’s...

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