The Vault

Official Welcome to the Congress

By Lena Frederick


Wilkommen am dritten Internationalen Kongress für Lehrer der Alexander Technik. Bienvenue au troisième Congres International des Enseigneurs de la Technique Alexander. Benvenuti al terzo congresso internationale dei maestri della maestri della tecnica Alexander. It is my great pleasure to welcome you to the 3rd International Congress for Teachers of the Alexander Technique here in Engelberg, Switzerland. Gruetsi mitenand!

It seems a wonderful coincidence that we’re meeting in a place that was founded 900 years ago by a group of Benedictine monks. They were an extraordinary group of people who did a lot to maintain an inner peace and stability in a time of outward turmoil—and their name of course means to speak well... Benedire or Benedictus—the good word, the good meaning, the blessing.

Speaking well. Speaking goodness. I know we will be hearing some excellent speakers, some excellent material, and we will also be spending a lot of time speaking to one another. I’d like for a moment to turn our attention to the other part of speaking—to listening. Coming back to the Benedictines, when I think of some of the truly religious people I’ve known, they’ve had an extraordinary quality of listening, an ability to listen in quite a different way than we’re accustomed to—listening with the heart or with the whole being might be one way to describe it. And if that was all we did, listened with that quality of care, this Congress would be an extraordinary event.

I’m privileged to have had the opportunity to study with a man named Dr. David Bohm, a name some of you may be familiar with. He’s a world-renowned physicist whose work has extended from physics to human consciousness. Here in Engelberg, I might describe him as a Jewish Benedictine. In any case, I’ve learned a lot from him about the art of listening. He describes it as the art of dialogue.

The art of dialogue involves knowing that if your opinion is different from or contradicts mine, I don’t need to reject your point of view in order to keep my own. I don’t need to feel that you’re wrong in order to validate myself. It’s possible to hold two opinions, two or three or however many, simultaneously in one’s consciousness without feeling the need to reject or accept any particular one of them. Together, we become a vessel that holds diverse points of view without accepting or rejecting any of them. And through this process of holding in one’s consciousness, holding in front of one, as it were, differing points of view, meaning emerges, meaning or significance that may surprise us all.

So as I welcome you to Engelberg and the 3rd International Congress this afternoon, what I wish for us all is that what we learn here this week surprises us, that our time here together is full of the unpredicted and unexpected in its best possible forms, and that together we become a vessel that transmits new meaning. 

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