In the Alexander technique, ‘inhibition’ is used in the scientific or physiological sense, and refers to the stopping of over-quick habitual reflex activity in order to allow the possibility of choice.

In a more sophisticated sense, inhibition is, as FM Alexander said, ‘the act of refusing to respond to the primary desire to gain an end’; that is, the act of refusing to respond automatically and habitually to a stimulus to ‘do’ or achieve any particular end or goal. Inhibiting, or stopping, allows a person a moment’s pause, in which to consciously choose whether or not to respond to a stimulus and if so, how to respond. The choice to inhibit our automatic habitual pattern of response – whether thoughts, actions or behaviour – leaves the way open for change.

Alexander saw inhibition as crucial because, ‘As long as the brain is preoccupied with the projection of messages which result in bringing about our habitual manner of use, there is little chance of breaking the vicious circle of the associated reflex activity in “doing”.’

He also put it simply when he said to a pupil he was teaching, ‘Like a good fellow, stop the things that are wrong first.’

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