The Mind-Body problem challenges a lot of paradigms, and many individual ways of thinking, for those who dare to take a closer look. One modern tool, the computer, introduced many new paradigms and created new opportunities.
By comparing a human being to a computer we might understand abit better how mind, brain, nervous system and body interact. This helps to analyze one own system to potentially rebuild a fine tuned custom made system capable for the tasks at hand, as long as we don't forget, that the map is not the territory.
Brain, central and peripheral nervous system and body belong to the hardware category of the production system human being. The brain controls via the nervous system the movement of more than 630 muscles connected to 206 bones. The sensorium of the peripheral nervous systems feed back status information to itself and the brain.
Additional to nervous signaling system, which uses electricity, the endocrine system provides a chemical signaling system with a larger latency than the neural one.
Fascia embeds and interconnects the information carrying and functional elements of this biochemical robot, while storing habitual information in its structure. Fascia contains proprioceptors which help us locate parts of our body without seeing them.
The brain consists of different parts for high and low level system management. Processing of visual information, language, decision making and planning happen in relatively specific parts of the brain.
We can only compare a human being to a cyborg rather than to a PC, given this rather complex hardware of our bodies and its interacting systems. Yet, the brain itself suits a bit better for the PC analogy, as long as we don't forget that this PC controls our autonomous cyborg.
Let's call the operating system of this cyborg with embedded control unit mind. Our mind basically runs the show, whether we know it or not. As part of the system services of the mind subconscious demon processes breath for us, let our heart beat and do many things more.
When we pick up a glass to drink, our mind moves the hand with what it perceives to be our arm to the glass, takes it and beings it to the lips. The brain coordinates the intention of the mind into movement involving several joints, based on visual, haptic and proprioceptive input.
Although our mind creates the beautiful illusion of identity it deals most of the times with very mundane tasks, like organising our movement. This happens mostly in subconscious part of our mind, the sphere of the background processes.
Our brain has the selfish interest to organise the body for an optimal oxygen supply, yet the mind minds its own business. If the operating system does not utilize the hardware efficiently, the system performance degenerates.
You get what you think. Sometimes even if you thought it once a long time ago. If you know that you don't like spinach, you can shortcut one decision. We habitualised our views of the world, ways of thought, ways of movement and means of perception.
Most of the time we don't need to pay any attention to blood flow, digestion, breathing, eye blinking, sweating and many other things: Our autonomous nervous system happily keeps us alive. Although this aspect of the nervous system works mostly autonomous, it interacts permanently with the entire organism. The flight-or-fight impulse, for example, reorganises the way different systems use resources. If we overactivate this impulse, we most likely will damage the systems involved.
The second kind of background processes act on a slightly 'higher' level. Any learned movement creates a neuronal pathway which looks a bit like an algorithm. Similar to the inet demon that dispatches requests to various subsystems, our intent directs our motor control and accesses a variety of movement patterns stored there.
The background processes deal not only with physical movement, but basically with any stimulus that reaches us.
Pain signals usually background processes of that kind. As an admin I first have to list all processes to find the faulty one. Awareness shows the processes running the mind, which makes observation of one's internal processes the first step of the Alexander Technique.
If I hunch when I type away at my computer I direct my body into a position that requires much more effort to maintain than a balanced acture. I certainly do not intend to waste energy, but the way I decide to achieve the end of working at the computer contributed to extra effort.
By observing my body while getting in this situation I can try to capture the moment when I want to shorten my front to hunch over and decide not to do it. As long as I don't know what triggers the hunch over process I can try to detect it in the jobs list and stop it from running. Inhibition of movement can prevent damage by simply not doing something wrong.
When I learned to stop myself from pulling myself down while typing in front of computer it didn't mean I achieved an effortless way of doing that task. I need to understand that the head balances the body first, and then organise my body according to this premise.
"Let your neck be free. Allow your head to move forward and up. Allow your back to lengthen and widen." Directing can change the habits of of our use, not by replacing one habit by another, but finding useless habits and undoing them, guided just by the primary directions for an optimal relation of head, neck and back.
Pain signals a faulty system configuration, eradicating extra effort at a different place alleviates the problem, but not necessarily fixes it. We encounter a false friend here, fixing means contrary thing in the alexander and information technology world.
Programmers and system administrator to have "fix" a lot of things, usually because they malfunction. Alexander teacher understand fixing more negatively, including the attitude behind the quick fix idea.
Quick fixes pose an immediate reaction to an urge or problem. Usually they don't attack the problem, but its visibility. Whenever this part of the system gets active, it will predictively fail.
Modern operating systems run hundreds of threads quasi parallel, and not all of them do something useful. The massage to treat my shoulders after hunching while working fixes the unpleasant sensation, but not my faulty habit that causes the unease.
You can secure a webserver by putting it in a sandbox, a miniature system stripped down to bare necessities. By showing the student an effortless way to get in and out of s chsir the student can learn about the way he perceives and controls the body. The strip-down process concentrates more on not doing than doing the right thing. When we stop doing wrong things, the right thing can happen.
The Alexander Technique provides a method to identify superfluous habits, and to gain better understanding of the processes linking thinking and movement.