While ‘sensory appreciation’ refers to the information we get from our senses about our physical condition and use, ‘faulty sensory appreciation’ comes about when we do not receive accurate sensory feedback about our physical condition or we interpret that information inaccurately. This is a very common occurrence and leads to an unreliable sense of feeling where what feels right is actually wrong and, as FM Alexander said, ‘incorrect sensory experiences … resulting in misdirected activities’.

He wrote:

‘The conception likewise of what is happening within ourselves is dependent upon impressions which come to us through the sense of feeling (sensory appreciation) upon which we must rely for guidance in carrying out our daily activities. When our sensory appreciation is deceptive, as is the case more or less with everyone today, the impressions we get through it are deceptive also.… When a certain degree of misuse has been reached, the deceptiveness of these impressions reaches a point where they can mislead us into believing that WE ARE DOING SOMETHING WITH SOME PART OF OURSELVES WHEN ACTUALLY WE CAN BE PROVED TO BE DOING SOMETHING QUITE DIFFERENT. This is equally true of things we believe we think, which more often than not are things we feel.’

Further stressing the importance of accurate sensory appreciation, FM Alexander also stated, ‘sensory appreciation conditions conception – you can’t know a thing by an instrument that is wrong’ and that ‘correct apprehension and reliable sensory appreciation go hand in hand’.

A simple example of inaccurate sensory appreciation can be seen in the person who habitually slumps – their slumped position feels right, even though they can see they have ‘bad posture’ when they look in a mirror. The reverse also occurs, as when someone who habitually slumps comes to an Alexander lesson and they are helped to improve their use, they may initially experience their new way of standing and sitting as feeling wrong. (Note because our usual sensations and feelings feel right, learning the Alexander technique without a teacher is extremely difficult. When on our own, even with books, we tend to continually lapse back into our habitual misuse as it feels normal and right to us, and the new improved use feels wrong.)

In Alexander lessons, with a teacher’s help, a person is slowly re-educated so that they gain a more accurate sensory appreciation and increased understanding about their use over time.

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