LearningMethods

Not a typo in the title there, LearningMethods (one word - often shortened to LM) is a trademark term for a body of work developed by David Gorman. His website has the specifics.

I stumbled upon David's work after spending a fair amount of time teaching myself various aspects of what's called the Alexander Technique. (You can look that one up yourself, I'm not going to describe it here.) David was himself formerly one of the world's foremost Alexander Technique teachers and thinkers, before branching off into his LM work. 

In drastically simplified summary form, LM has two main components. One is what's called an "anatomy of wholeness", detailing David's remarkable discoveries about the way our body actually works (and I mean utterly remarkable - it's difficult to convey just how extraordinary this stuff is). The other is what's called the LM work proper, which is a detailed, experiential exploration of peoples' issues.

Underlying all of David's work is the idea that we operate as whole beings. Now wholeness as a term has a chequered (or maybe paisley) history, with every mystical nut claiming it to be what everything is all about. But in Gorman's work you actually find out, in the most practical, common sense detail, what this means, in your everyday activity. His essential insight is that, to quote from a Babette Lightner article on the website: 

...the human system works as one whole coordinated system. By coordination I mean that the generally divided aspects of our system are absolutely integrated. Our mind isn’t doing one thing, our feeling another, our skeletal-muscular system another and our biochemistry another. At any given moment our whole system is one living activity in which thought, feeling, structural form, muscle activation, and bio-chemistry are all coordinating together to give us one moment. At any given moment a person is in the exact/perfect coordination for whatever he is actually doing. “Perfect” in that it is a precisely accurate coordination for a specific intention, not necessary perfect in the way we might think as in “comfortable”, “efficient for the task” “ or “to get the best result”. This “coordinating system” works to allow us to do what we want at any given moment. 

So we are whole because everything we do is always a coordinated pattern that includes the LOT - our thoughts, what our blood pressure is doing, our muscle tone, etc. etc. Traditionally we've tended to divvy up all of these bits and pieces, treating them as quite separate although related. So we have people who study and treat just your ears, nose and throat, while others treat your heart, and others your ideas and thoughts (psychologists, counsellors etc.). Lots of lovely, independent billable chunks to screw the average Joe out of their tax dollars with. Radicals are thought to be people who say things like "but hang on, I think the mind affects the body, so let's explore the mind-body link". So yay, we have parts, but maybe these parts talk to each other. But they're still bits and pieces. 

Gorman is different. For him the 'wholeness' is already there. You don't have to disappear up your own introspective orifice with a book of mantras to make it happen, it's already happening, right now, every second. If you start to imagine a sad or happy scene, then your physiology and anatomy and everything else will respond simultaneously in ways that will make you feel sad or happy (provided of course what you're imagining is genuinely a sad or happy thing for you, and not just some abstract representation of that, in which case you'd just get a coordination of abstract indifference). Or in other words, your 'system' always coordinates immediately and automatically to whatever you're doing.

The implications of this are astounding. You don't need to 'do' anything with your system at all. Not walking, sitting, running, breathing, singing - whatever. No need to fiddle with any bits, ever. You simply need an intention to have any of those things happen, and they will just happen, all by themselves. If you can stop trying to fiddle with the process and make it happen, in which case you'll just get a coordination of 'trying to make it happen'. If you have breathing problems, as I once did, you quickly realise that this was part of a wider coordination of what you were doing (often including "trying to make my breathing better"). All movement and posture is absolutely, not just relatively, effortless, or it can be if you can get out of your own way. Effort is always me-trying-to-do-something. 

David's work is what helps people to get out of their own way. I'll describe some of how it works practically in the next post. I also have some disagreement with David on certain aspects of the LM (rather than anatomy of wholeness) work, so I'll describe them down the track as well. 

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