A Collection of the Sayings
and Teaching Aphorisms
of F.M. Alexander
The Resurrection of the Body:
The Essential Writings of F. Matthais Alexander
Selected and Introduced by Edward Maisel
SHAMBALA Boston & London 1986
(1) "When people are wrong, the thing that is right is bound to be wrong to them."
(2) "You can't do something you don't know, if you keep on doing what you know."
(3) "Everyone wants to be right, but no one stops to consider if their idea of right is right."
(4) "Change involves carrying out an activity against the habit of life."
(5) "You are not here to do exercises, or to learn to do something right, but
to get able to meet a stimulus that always puts you wrong and to learn to deal with it."
(6) "You come to learn to inhibit and to direct your activity. You learn, first,
to inhibit the habitual reaction to certain classes of stimuli, and second, to direct
yourself consciously in such a way as to affect certain muscular pulls, which
processes bring a new reaction to these stimuli. Boiled down, it all comes to
inhibiting a particular reaction to a given stimulus. But no one will see it that way.
They will all see it as getting in and out of the chair the right way. It is nothing
of the kind. It is that a pupil decides what he will or will not consent to do.
They may teach you anatomy and physiology till they are black in the face --
you will still have this to face, sticking to a decision against your habit of a life."
(7) "You can't know a thing by an instrument that's wrong."
(8) "If people will go on believing that they 'know', it is impossible to eradicate
anything; it makes it impossible to teach them."
(9) "As soon as people come with the idea of unlearning instead of learning, you
have them in the frame of mind you want."
(10) "When anything is pointed out, our only idea is to go from wrong to right
in spite of the fact that it has taken us years to get wrong: We try to get right
in a moment."
(11) "The whole organism is responsible for specific trouble. Proof of this is,
that we eradicate specific defects in process."
(12) "You get away from your old preconceived ideas because you are getting
away from your old habits."
(13) "Doing in your case is so 'overdoing' that you are practically paralysing
the parts you want to work."
(14) "Everyone is always teaching one what to do, leaving us still doing things
we shouldn't do."
(15) "Under the ordinary teaching methods, the pupil gets nineteen wrong and one
right experience. It ought to be the other way around."
(16) "The experience you want is in the process of getting it. If you have something,
give it up. Getting it, not having it, is what you want."
(17) "Prevent the things you have been doing and you are half way home."
(18) "Take hold of the floor with your feet. What can that mean to them? When
they try to take hold of the floor with their feet, they take the foot off the floor
with the tension they are putting on their legs."
(19) "When I ask you to draw your tongue away and say "t", I mean you not to say "t".
I mean you definitely to prevent it, to give orders, and not to say "t". I ask you to say
"t" because I don't want you to say "t", because I want to give you the opportunity
of refusing to say "t".
(20) "They say, "I am going to lengthen," and then raise their eyes. Of course raising
their eyes has nothing more to do with lengthening than their boots, but having done
this from time onwards, their conception of lengthening will be associated with raising
their eyes. Therefore when the idea of lengthening comes to them, they must at once
inhibit the movement of the eyes in order to break the wrong association that has been
built up, before giving themselves the order to lengthen."
(21)"The difficulty for all of us is to take up a new way of life in which we must
apply principles instead of the haphazard end-gaining methods of the past. This
indicates a slow process and we must all be content with steady improvement day
to day; but we must see to it that we are really depending upon the application
of our principles in all our endeavours in every direction from day to day. You
have been too anxious to be right despite the fact that you learned early in your
lessons that your right was wrong. However you have done well considering your
difficulties, and you will continue to improve in the controlled use of yourself if
you work as steadily as directed."
(22) "We are forced in our teaching at every point to translate theories into
(23) "Trying is only emphasizing the thing we know already."
(24) "All that I am trying to give you is a new experience."
(25) "You won't energize to put your head forward and up, unless you feel
the condition which you associate with the idea of head forward and up, which
is, unfortunately, stiffening and shortening, the very opposite of forward and up."
(26) "You want to know if you're right. When you get further on you will be right,
but you won't know it and won't want to know if you're right."
(27) "As a matter of fact, feeling is much more use than what they call 'mind'
when it's right."
(28) "Sensory appreciation conditions conception -- you can't know a thing
by an instrument that is wrong."
(29) "Specific prevention is permissible only under conditions of non-doing,
not in doing."
(30) "You translate everything, whether physical or mental or spiritual, into
(31) "Control should be in process, not superimposed."
(33) "No one could be satisfied to go on every day getting no result unless
he saw the way."
(34) "The stupidity of letting children go wrong is that once they go wrong, their
right is wrong; therefore, the more they try to be right, the more they go wrong."
(35) "The important thing is what the child is doing with itself in its activities."
(36) "The essence of the religious outlook is that religion should not be kept in
a compartment by itself, but that it should be the ever-present guiding principle
underlying the 'daily round', the 'common task.' So also it is possible to apply
this principle of life in the daily round of one's activities without involving a loss
of attention in these activities."
(37) "Talk about a man's individuality and character: it's the way he uses himself."
(38) "To know when we are wrong is all that we shall ever know in this world."
(40) "When an investigation comes to be made, it will be found that every single thing
we are doing in the work is being done in Nature where the conditions are right, the
difference being that we are learning to do it consciously."