From “Taking Root to Fly: Articles on Functional Anatomy,” by Irene Dowd:
Visualizing a line of movement through the body while not moving can change the habitual patterns of messages being sent from the brain through nerve pathways to the muscles. As long as this new thinking pattern is activated during movement, a new pattern of muscle activity is automatically being used to decrease physical stress and maintain a more balanced alignment of skeletal parts. Over a period of time during which there is continual daily attention to new habit patterns in thinking and action, the body’s shape will be transformed. Previously overused muscles become more flexible and smoothed out, while previously underused muscles develop greater tone, strength endurance and a fuller contour.
When Dr. Sweigard used the term “movement goal,” she had something very precise in mind: what you want to be doing right now. Long-term goals are a direction to follow, perhaps a philosophy or dream life. If your greatest aim is to be able to fly you will have to construct a step-by-step series of short-term goals to achieve that end. Each short-term goal must be something within your capability so that you can actually visualize yourself doing it and then actually do it. Begin with walking. If you can do this, it will give you positive reinforcement to take on the next more difficult goal. If walking is beyond your capacity, don’t keep failing. Not even a worm will persist after repeated negative reinforcement. The solution is to go one step back to something you can do, crawling perhaps. By keeping your current movement goal at a level of possible attainment, you will be ready to go beyond it with success. If you are in pain, whether you are moving or not, your most compelling immediate goal is to get rid of the hurt. The next essential goal is to be able to move fully without getting into pain again.
In this excerpt from the article “The Theory and Practice of a New Method of Respiratory Education,” from the collection “Articles and Lectures,” F. M. Alexander is talking specifically about the breath:
A body possessing one or other or all of the defects previously named will need re-education in order to eradicate the defects brought about by bad habits, etc., and to restore a proper condition. As the breathing mechanism is ordinarily unconsciously controlled, it is necessary, in order to regain full efficiency in the use of it, to proceed by way of conscious control until the normal conditions return. Afterwards, when perfected, unconscious control—as it originally existed prior to respiratory and physical deterioration—will supervene.