Means / means whereby
The ‘means’ is the way in which a goal (or end) is to be achieved. FM Alexander referred to the ‘means whereby’ as the process of how we use ourselves when responding or performing actions to achieve a desired end. He considered that the means whereby an act was performed was more important than the gaining of the actual end itself, saying ‘the act performed is of less consequence than the manner of its performance’ and that if we focused on the means whereby, the ends would take care of themselves.
In the Alexander technique, instead of focusing solely on our desired goal and forcing ourselves towards it at any cost (endgaining), we learn to stop (or inhibit) our habitual misuse and endgaining and to consciously direct ourselves and our activity in a new and improved way while performing our selected task. This improved means whereby tends to include stopping to envision an appropriate course of action and breaking down larger goals into smaller, more easily performable steps and the focusing on the performance on each step at a time at a slow, considered and achievable pace.
This focus on the means whereby leads to, in Aldous Huxley’s words, an ‘increased consciousness of the physical means employed to gain the ends proposed by the will’, and we move towards having greater conscious control over our reactions and the actions to be performed, with the result that our goal is usually gained, and with more freedom and efficiency than it would be otherwise.
(It may also be worth noting that in the process of considering the means whereby a goal should be achieved, we may sometimes realise that our goal is not a healthy or constructive one in its current form or timeframe and that we may need to adjust it in order to achieve a healthy result.)
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