Alexander Technique in Armonk

Embodying Metaphor

The fallacy of misplaced concreteness consists in treating analytical constructs as though they were lived realities and, as a corollary, treating lived realities as though they were a veil camouflaging unconscious forces that required scientific expertise or intellectual genius to uncover and arcane coinages to describe. - Alfred North Whitehead


Thinking is more effective when carried out in conjunction with the physical world. It is not a disembodied activity that takes place in the head. The brain is part of a processing system that uses the body and other aspects of the world to reason and make decisions. Verbally-based thought distances us from the immediacy of our experiences and allows us to perceive patterns, but it can also lead to mental models that persist in a recursive, self-reinforcing manner. These models can shape our responses and interactions and come to define who we think we are.

Alternatively, using visual analogies or imagining something in our mind's eye can be an effective means of refining concepts or getting us out of thinking of problems in a counter-productive manner. Such models can facilitate a more physical understanding of the process that we are trying to address. They can help us let go of interfering patterns that are creating unnecessary stress and tension in the body, changing the way we think, feel, and move.

Physical reality doesn't just help us think – mental function depends on corporeal experience. The very structure of our reason itself comes from our embodiment: our visual system, our motor system, and our nervous system. We think in metaphors, incorporating the experiential into our understanding of the abstract, which makes these analogies conceptual rather than merely linguistic.