A Piece of Mind: Expert Discusses Technique for Self-Discovery and Harmony

The New Paltz community center hosted another segment of its monthly seminar series with the Education Annex of Wellness Embodied: A Center For Psychotherapy and Healing on Wednesday, Nov. 2. This month’s guest speaker was Elizabeth Castagna, an expert on the Alexander Technique, which focuses on self-discovery and finding inner harmony within one’s body.

According to the  Wellness Center’s website, “The Alexander technique is about self-discovery and feeling good in your body. It’s a process that allows you to coordinate mind and body to re-learn movement, deepening our understanding of how we’re designed to move.” The technique was created by actor F.M. Alexander.

The seminar, which was attended by New Paltz locals, was initiated by Meredith Johnson, the programming coordinator of Wellness Embodied and a graduate from the SUNY New Paltz grad school. She urged the participants to take a minute of meditative relaxation and introduced Castagna to the room.

Castagna, who received her qualifications to teach the Alexander technique from Alexander Technique International, stated at the beginning of the seminar, “Everything begins with awareness,” as she had the participants engage in activities such as walking around the room, massaging their heads to relieve tension, balancing peacock feathers on their hands and were urged to focus on parts of their body that seemed off and felt uncomfortable. 

“With this technique you begin to notice the impact your thoughts have on your body,” she said. “We begin to recognize habits we have about ourselves.”

Castagna said the brain tends to live in the neo cortex, or as it is colloquially called “the fight or flight” part of the brain, and that one should find ways to become more self-aware and resist the nature of this part of the brain. With awareness, one can notice “tensions and habits” in the body.

“The first step is awareness,” she said. “Allow yourself to feel what you’re feeling with no judgments.” 

She delivered a seminar on the Alexander technique last year at the community for Wellness Embodied and has dedicated her life to helping others and spreading the ideals of Alexander.

Johnson, as programming coordinator, is in charge of the events going on the community center via Wellness Embodied. The community center will be hosting another Wellness Embodied program next month entitled, “Sweetness Without the Sugar.” 

Along with founder and director Doree Lipson, Johnson is in charge of Wellness Embodied. According to the Wellness Embodied website, the Annex is an arm of the center and provides programming, groups and engagement within the therapeutic realm to further the physical, psychological, spiritual, emotional and overall well-being of our community in the Hudson Valley. 

The organization offers various workshops based around different aspects of psychotherapy. They offer various workshops at their central location as well as at the New Paltz community center and in the Hudson Valley as a whole.

For more information, visit wellnessembodied.com.