Monday, 24 February 2014

On 08:42 by Victoria Stanham in    No comments
“What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet”


Thus reads Juliet’s balcony monologue, in Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet.

And yet, if I say “rose” but don’t give you the experience of one as I say it, you’ll call up in your memory your previous experiences of other roses… and perhaps your imagined rose won’t “smell as sweet” as the one I’m thinking about.

Same thing happens when an instructor, trainer or coach tells you to do "squats". No doubt he has a very clear idea of what he wants to see his when he asks for "squats". And yet, when you look at what his class is executing, you might find yourself with 20 different interpretations of and variations on "the squat" (some of them perhaps so 'creative' as to be almost unrecognizable as a traditional "squat"). Coach might then bark out a few pointers to keep in mind while squatting: "back straight", "knees tracking over toes", etc. The problem is we all have different experiences of what a "straight back" or a "knee" is, and we're executing the "squat" from our storage of experience, and not coach's storage.

What I mean to say is: we interpret verbal stimuli differently…according to our past experiences of them.

A Word is a stimulus… our interpretation of it, a habit.

The good news is habits can be retrained by accumulating new sensory experiences around them.

So sometimes we need to explain ourselves better. The best way of explaining something to you is to give you an experience of what I mean. And when it comes to your body and your movement, there's no better info thatn sensory and kinesthetic info.

In my last blog I made this faux-pas. (Well, actually I did the naughty and the right thing in one same piece of writing.)


You see I did the naughty thing by saying the word “GOD”.

Of course I cannot possibly give you an experience of what that word means to me, something beyond any religion or cultural system.  

Still, I found that it is almost as (if not more) politically incorrect to say “GOD” as it is to say “ARMPIT”.

I did the right thing with ARMPIT though. Before you could go, “Ugh! Vicky, please! That’s gross! We don’t talk about those things here”, I hastened to give you a sensory idea of what armpit means to me. If I was lucky and successful in my demonstration, you even liked the relaxing quality of my concept of armpit better than your previous experience of the word.

As with most habits, even after we have had a new sensory experience of a word, our first reaction to hearing it will be our most practiced one: the old definition… with its accompanying muscular tension configurations (every thought you have is a stimuli, every word you hear internally or externally is having a physical manifestation in your body of contraction or expansion).

Allow me to give you an example from my own trove of experience.

What area in your body am I talking about when I say the word “NECK”?

Quick, without thinking touch your neck from where you feel it starts to where you feel it finishes (I said no thinking, I don’t want your conceptual neck, I want the neck you really and truly live with, the one that’s your bodily experience).

I know that if I am not allowed to over-think it, I still have the habit of chopping off the topmost and bottom-most ends of my neck. With my years of AT training I have gained a few centimeters above and below my previous concept of neck, but my sensory habit doesn’t yet match my conceptual knowledge.

You see your neck is LONG. Really. There’s 7 beautiful vertebrae between your skull and your chest. 


When you PAY ATTENTION & THINK about it, you can see that your neck starts at the level of your ears and nose, and not below your jawline. At the bottom end, and muscularly speaking, it spans the breadth of your collarbones, the upper edge of your shoulder blades. It’s long and wide. 

If when you think “neck” you’re only thinking of the space where you might put on a neck brace (like in the picture)… well, you’re cutting yourself short a few inches... and chances are you've got tension accumulating in those un-acknowledged bits.


How do you fix this disparity between what is, and what you feel it is? 

By stopping to think before you react… and joining that thinking with some actual sensory perception through release of tension.

So at first, you need to remind yourself to keep calm and remember your direction (a.k.a stop before jumping into your habitual reaction and remember your new wider definition of the word) conscientiously, day in and day out… until the new wider, more spacious definition takes hold.

At first you might even have to use a different word, one that rings truer to the new wider concept. I did this for “neck” for some time; I used the gibberish- sounding “squibble” for a while, because it had no associated meaning, so I could infuse it with the idea of the vast space surrounding my 7 cervical vertebrae… as in “let my squibble be free” (Even today when I think “squibble” I get a more complete sensory picture of my neck than when I use the word “neck”! Habits of thought are THAT strong indeed).

If you do this stopping-and-reminding-yourself of your new directions of thought repeatedly enough, eventually the new definition becomes part of you, it becomes your own self-definition, the word triggers a new response… and you will wonder how anyone could possibly not understand the word as you do so now.

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Image credits:


"Covering Her Mouth With Both Hands" by photostock/freeditialphotos.net


"Neck animation" by wikimedia commons

Friday, 21 February 2014

On 21:36 by Victoria Stanham in ,    No comments
Creating Space is an act of self-definition… it’s how you get to know the vastness of you. It’s what Creation looked like really. This is what it looked like for God (Genesis 1). 


You see, apparently God was creating space between stuff, so that we could distinguish one thing from another and give each bit it’s proper use.

Let’s see what it would look like for you. We’ll create space in your armpit.

Now, for most people, the armpit is this politically-incorrect stretch of skin that is prone to produce unsightly stuff (sweat, hair, odor) no matter how much Dove tells us they will make them pretty if we use their products. 

What most people don’t remember is that the armpit, is a pit (i.e. a hole), and as such has “walls” enclosing a space. And that space is vital for your shoulder joint to work correctly

So let’s create your pit again for you, shall we?



    1.   Now take your right hand and grab the front wall of your left armpit (for anatomy geeks, that’s your pectoralis major… for the rest, that’s the front wall. Period). Allow the left arm to rest easy by your side and imagine that front wall releasing, relaxing, softening (I like using the image of warm water running along the area and massaging it loose… but use whatever image or word or quality of touch that achieves the same effect for you).

    2.   Now grab the back wall of your left armpit (latissimus dorsi, teres major) and allow that to release.

    3.   Now softly touch the inside of your upper arm, way up in the pit, that’s the outside wall of your pit (coracobrachialis, biceps, triceps) and ask that area to release too.

    4.   And finally touch the inside wall (serratus anterior), way up there in the pit, it’s a hard surface cause there’s ribs and ask that area to release too.
Now take a moment to notice the difference between the left armpit and the right armpit.

If all went well, you should have a clearer sensory picture of the left armpit now, compared to the right one (if all went really really well, you might even have released some tension in your neck, shoulders and/or upper back). 

The clearer picture comes from having differentiated one bit from another bit, that is, from creating space between bits.

This principle of creating space in order to tell what’s what, applies to everything in Life.

When you are immersed in a habitual reaction (be it a habit of body, mind or emotion), you are not aware of what’s going on, you’re acting out the script, completely identified with your cast character. The only way to realize you’re playing a role is to take a step back from the play and see it - and everything in it - for what it is.

With space, your previously amorphous armpit became this fabulous joint composed of different parts that interact with each other in a space.

The same idea applies to your emotional life. (I’ve written about this before, if you’re interested you may want to check out this post about how I dealt with anxious thoughts, or this post and this post about stopping and seeing things in context).

Creating space is not about separating yourself from something in order to cut it out from you. Rather, it’s about getting to know the different pieces of you a little better. They’re all still you, but you know what you’re made up of.


It’s the difference between knowing you have $500 in your wallet and knowing that you have $500 in 3 $100 bills, 2 $50 bills, and 5 $20 bills. It’s all still $500, but in the second case you know you have change that you can use to pay the bus fare.



Creating space gives you more options, more freedom to choose how to use your resources.

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Images credits:


"World Nature" by Danilo Rizzuti/freedigitalphotos.net


"Sensual Young Female Model, Closeup Shot" by stockimages /freedigitalphotos.net


Armpit illustration by Barbara D. Cummings, found on http://narangkar.blogspot.com/2011/06/armpit.html

"Bus Stop" by anankkml/freedigitalphotos.net

Friday, 14 February 2014

On 18:51 by Victoria Stanham in , ,    No comments
Have you realized how contagious mindsets are?

Spend ten minutes with a friend who’s always stressed out of her mind and you end up in a frenzy yourself, running around like headless chicken. If you’re lucky, something will make you stop and realize “what am I all strung up about?” If you’re not, you’ll go through the rest of your day completely certain that this is one of those days when things just don’t work out for you.


You keep calm and remember your direction.

I’ve been practicing what I preach all week (sometimes makes me think I should keep my trap shut). Life was pretty determined to test my mettle and my theory.

Conclusion: it ain’t easy baby; especially the “keeping calm” bit.

However, I got through the test, and was rewarded with a further clue to the Life-puzzle. It has to do with how to keep calm when everything and everyone is refusing to cooperate with your plans.

I’m giving you the cheat-sheet for free. But, rest assured, Life will test you on your comprehension of her lesson anyway… she’s one of those teachers that you can never hoodwink for long.

In a nutshell: You keep calm by seeing the wider picture.

Don’t worry, I’ll spell it out.

Everything hinges on the keep calm bit.

Why do you need to keep calm?

Because it’s the only way of really remembering your direction.

If you’re not calm, you may think you’re remembering your direction. But all you’re really doing is DOING the items on your To Do List, which you have determined will take you to your direction.

Now that means you’re really confused about what your direction is.

Your direction is NOT your destination or goal (i.e. it’s not something that will happen then, it is something that is happening now).

Your direction is NOT the road you’re traveling (i.e. it is not the items on your to-do list that will get you to your destination).

Your direction is your mindset (i.e. the how you’re getting to your destination, the way you’re facing every item on your to-do list).

Your direction is like a mission statement: I want to have and occupy all my available space, I want to do things with joyful ease, I want to be happy about life, I want to be giddy-in-love with what I do no matter what it is.

It is within that encompassing mindset that your to-do’s get done. You can do all the stuff in your to-do list anyway, in any way… but the how will make it a journey-you-love or a journey-you-hate.

So, I repeat, you need to keep calm in order to remember your direction.

What does “keep calm” mean in practical terms?

Keep calm means feel where you are.

Feel means open up your senses (i.e. soften your focus, widen your perspective, find the bright-spots, see things in context).

Learning to stop and find your direction within the fuller context takes time, patience, practice and a strong determination to live your life differently.

Other people’s stress is contagious. I know I easily absorb others’ mindsets. I may wake up feeling peachy but somehow pick up a floating waft of stress from my partner, the bus conductor, or the grumpy neighbor in the elevator. Suddenly I’m all caught up in the endlessness of my to-do list for the day, feeling already frazzled and tired before even having tackled the first item. My bed and my rest seem so far away… all these things to do between happy-sleepy-oblivion and me (work, phone calls, laundry, cooking, carpool, groceries, random interruptions, etc. etc. etc).

The point is, you can deal with most things. You do it every day and you’re still here. What is making you go bonkers is this extra stress-germ you picked up.

Well, you have to sneeze it out of your system.

Sneezing is a high-impact form of breathing that gets uninvited guests out of your system in a blast. Use it (metaphorically) with your picked-up stress-germ.

How to get rid of the stress germ and inoculate yourself from further contagion.

1. Notice you’re stressed.

This is the easy bit, you probably know what “stress” feels like for you.

2. Come back to your senses.

Feel your body, release the tension in your feet, your sitting-bones, your armpits, your hands, soften your eyes and your face and your jaw.

3. See the problem in the wider context.

This is like taking the fear-factor away from a scary-movie by opening your field of vision to include the frame of the screen, and the room where the screen is, and the people around you. Suddenly the scary-movie is just a movie… which doesn’t make it go away, it just puts it in its proper place within the wider picture.

I literally do this with people when they are arguing with me, so as not to get sucked into the argument and the tense energy and let the situation spiral out of control. You just cannot hate somebody whose hair is suddenly set alight by a stray ray of the setting sun on a summer’s eve, no matter how much they are shouting at you and ferociously gesticulating. And you can only notice the beauty of it if you’ve opened up your focus to include the setting sun.

4. Breathe calmly taking in the vastness of it all.

Realize you can’t control Life, you can’t even comprehend it fully or your place in it. Your to-do list means nothing and will get you nowhere really; but it still has to get done. All you can do is choose your direction, your mindset, how you want to do that which has to be done, and flow.

5. Make your mindset strong through practice.


You need to practice returning to your senses, until you can hold a steady note of peace within yourself even in the midst of frenzied activity. Then you’ll find others can’t suck you into their stressed-out mindsets. And what’s best, you’ll have become the happy contagion germ we all need.


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Image credits:

"Metallic Compass" by digitalart / freedigitalphotos.net

"Happy And Sad Smileys Showing Emotions" by Stuart Miles / freedigitalphotos.net

Friday, 7 February 2014

On 12:33 by Victoria Stanham in    No comments
I’m a planner. I love lists and being prepared. I make perfect plans and then… and then Life Happens.

There’s a nifty little phrase that goes “No plan survives contact with the enemy”. Well, I’d expand that to “No plan survives contact with real life.”

What to do about it? Throw all planning out the window and just improvise your way through life?

Strange as it may seem, I found the answer to this dilemma within the Alexander Technique and the whole “Posture” issue.

The answer: keep calm and remember your direction


Allow me to break that up for you.

KEEP CALM

When Real Life meets my Pretty Plan and proceeds to run amuck with it, my first reaction is to go into a frenzy trying to patch it up. Useless. I’m stuck in tunnel-vision running in circles, fixing irrelevant bits and forgetting the most important part.

Take 90 seconds and breathe. In out, in out, in out. The world IS NOT coming to an end and all the terrible things you’re imagining right now don’t necessarily need to happen. You cannot appraise the whole situation if you’re already doing stuff about it.

REMEMBER YOUR DIRECTION

Once I get my heart-rate down, I can give my higher cognitive powers a chance to help out. I may be very upset about my ruined perfect-plan, but perhaps I can still salvage the most important bits.

What was the main objective of your plan? Where was it taking you? Is there another way to get there?

Once you know where you were going (and why you were going there in the first place) you can improvise other ways of getting to your destination. This is where your original preparation comes in really handy.

If you’ve been planning and preparing for so long, you really know your stuff, so you can re-shuffle the information to make it fit the changing circumstances.

This is true improvisation. It is using all your cognitive and intuitive abilities, and your full stash of experience and preparation, to respond to something in the NOW. You’re not trying to squeeze the situation into a pre-made mold (the perfect plan) but neither are you being blown about by the winds of change.

How does this relate to posture?

Perfect Posture is like my Perfect Plan: useless when confronted with real life. There is no One Posture to fit all situations.

I cannot tell you something like “your head should always be here, and your shoulders there, and keep your pelvis thus, and avoid doing this with your leg”, because chances are Life will put you eventually in some situation where you’ll need to break all or some of those rules.

What will you do then?

I’ll tell you what you’ll do. You’ll keep calm and remember your direction.
You’ll keep calm because you’ll know that you will eventually get out of this situation that requires such a terrible deviation from the golden-mean of perfect alignment; so there’s really nothing to fret about.

And you’ll remember your direction: good posture is about creating space. So your objective in this oh-so-uncomfortable-situation is to create as much space for yourself as you can, given the circumstances, and then enjoy the show.

If you’ve been taking Alexander Technique lessons you probably know all about creating space within your body; you’ve been practicing it at every lesson! You’re well prepared to improvise.

You don’t need to wing it, you can actually fly!

Saturday, 1 February 2014

On 14:48 by Victoria Stanham   No comments
Why do I always react in the same wacko-way when I have told myself I’d do it different next time?

Why is it that I sometimes wake up early, get dressed, have breakfast, grab my bag and keys and am half way down to the bus stop when I realize…. “Something’s wrong, there’s no one on the street… Dang it! It’s Saturday! I could’ve slept in!” ?

Why is it that I only remember that I meant to do something different when I’m halfway doing the same-old, same-old?
Has something like the above ever happened to you? Did you wonder what’s wrong with you that you couldn’t even remember what you’d decided you’d do two minutes ago?

Well, there’s nothing wrong with you, you’re just human (unless of course, you think that’s what’s wrong with you… and you’d much rather have been a dog, a bird, a fairy… or God).

So anyway, why does it have to be this way?

Habits. Your brain LOVES habits. Habits allow it to put your whole system on autopilot, which saves it a tone of energy. Thinking (real thinking…the type that actually transforms your brain by laying down new neurological pathways) is hard work for the brain… because building things from scratch takes longer than using premade stuff (don’t blame the brain… next time you call for a pizza instead of actually cooking your own food cause you’re too tired to think about what to make for dinner you’re doing the same).

Not all habits are bad. Some are splendid little elves that help you get great work done in a jiffy without having to even think about it.

But some are pesky little gremlins that have long expired their utility, but have become quite at home in your brain and have no intention of moving out until you go after them in earnest. 

The Alexander Technique helps you fight pesky little habit-gremlins.

The Alexander Technique works at helping you keep your head on (literally) by being aware of habits kicking-in in your body… and so giving you the chance to remember what you really wanted to do.

How does this happen?

Your body is one of the best doors into the present. As opposed to your mind, which is constantly jumping from the past into the future and back again, your body is always in the Now.

If you get into the habit (the helpful-elfin type) of routinely scanning your body for tension-habit-gremlins, you can get an early heads-up (literally) when the gremlin shows the tips of its horny ears; so you get to remember to stop before plunging head-first (literally) and acting out your habitual (gremlin-driven) reaction.

In other words, as you become more aware of your body, you can feel your habitual tensions kick-in before they completely obnubilate your thinking. This allows you to stop and think…summon your higher thinking and self-regulating capacities, and stop yourself from plunging into your habitual reactions.

End result: Happier you because YOU get to decide what to do.

You can even decide to embrace the gremlin anyway… cause it’s easier and you’re tired and you just don’t have the willpower reserves right now to navigate the situation consciously… But at least you get to decide that for yourself, so that makes dealing with the consequences less traumatic.

That’s just for starters.

As you become better at this “stopping before you put your foot in it”, and you practice your preferred reaction when you’ve got the cognitive strength to do so, you gradually make the preferred reaction your default (you’re transforming the horny gremlin into a helpful elf).

And since it is also making your physical movements a lot easier and more enjoyable… it is kicking up your potential in all sorts of areas (think sports, arts, hobbies… anything really that requires you to move a part of your body). This makes you even happier… and more happy people makes for a happier world.

(BTW, it also makes you look good… and who doesn’t like that? And it makes you taller and more elegant… which, when you barely scratch the 5’2’’ mark like I do, is quite definitely a plus).

So what are you waiting for? Come get yourself a slice of the happiness-pie!

If you’re in Uruguay, join my mailing-list (sign up your name and email into the form that appears on the top right corner of the blog) and find out about how to schedule your first lesson to try-out some of the magic for yourself. There’re even a few places left in my posture workshops in February. Or just plain email me at vstanham@gmail.com and ask away.

If you’re not in Uruguay, check out AlexanderTechnique.com for fabulous resources and information on where to find a teacher near you.

Cheers!


Victoria
On 14:48 by Victoria Stanham   No comments
So you want to change your postural habits.

How does one go about that?

To begin with, let us get the basics clear.

Posture is a psychophysical phenomenon. It’s not only your body, it’s the whole of you: body + mind + emotions. It’s a good idea to think of your body, mind and emotions as ONE reality reflected in THREE different mirrors. There’s even a FOURTH mirror which is your context, or rather, your experience of your context.

It is of this fourth mirror that I would like to talk today. 

Your experience of your context is dictated by your mindset.

What is a mindset?

A mindset is a fundamental attitude towards life.  It is made up of millions of habits (physical, mental, emotional) which are the visible, tangible, manifested side of this overreaching mindset. Your mindset dictates every one of your relationships, be it to an animate or inanimate other. I guess you could call it your “character structure”.

One of the characteristics of my particular structure is that I withdraw as soon as I feel threatened. Come in a little too strong and poof! I’m off, leaving you having a vacuous chit-chat with a polite shell.

If you care for a story, I’ll tell you about how I discovered this sneaky tendency of mine. [If you don’t care for stories, jump down to the explanation bit at the end… no hard feelings].

The Day I Got a Sneak-Peek at My Mindset…

It happened during an Alexander Technique lesson a few years ago. I was being guided by my teacher’s hands in and out of a chair when I was suddenly struck by the realization: “I retract from contact.” My feet were retracting away from the ground, my sitting-bones were not coming into full contact with the chair, and my very skin was surreptitiously crawling away from contact with the teacher’s hands. It was like I was sucking my essence away to where it couldn’t be touched by anything or anyone.

It was a life-altering realization. “I retract from contact.” That was not just a physical thing, it was a full-being thing. I pulled back from relationships, I was guarded, I was afraid of contact, I was easily overwhelmed by another person’s energy.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, when I felt fairly safe with someone, I lost myself in them, became clingy, lost my own bearings. I obviously needed to work on the whole issue of boundaries.

These two responses to contact were all I knew so I couldn’t have responded differently even if I’d tried. They were also automatic and therefore completely unconscious, which means: I didn’t know I was reacting thus.

The good news is that an “aha!” moment like the one I had during that lesson meant I’d broken out of the pattern, if only for a few seconds. I could stand back and see it. And when you see something, you can finally see alternatives, you can analyse it, learn about it, play with it. Only now did I know what the game was really about.

So how does this all relate to changing postural habits?

Well, let’s first analyse how a habit works. [If you’re interested in a more in-depth look at this issue I suggest you check out the first chapter of Charles Duhigg's book on the subject].

The first few times you find yourself facing a new stimulus, your brain kicks into full gear with the aim of discovering some recognizable pattern in the situation that it can latch on to. The minute it spots a pattern, it knows what response is required and the system calms down: the brain can execute the pre-set response and put the body into autopilot.

Your brain has a storeroom of response patterns (aka habits) that it has built (and keeps building) all throughout your life. These are automatic responses, pre-sets if you will, and they allow you to function daily by taking away the need for decision making at every turn. It’s a good thing that you learnt the mechanics of walking when you were a kid, so now you don’t have to think about how to coordinate your legs to get from point A to point B.

But what happens when your response pattern has gone a little funny?

If you read my story, you can deduce that at some point I habituated a withdrawal response to contact. This response had probably been necessary at the time I started using it; it was perhaps the best I could do given my resources at the time.

However, the need for the withdrawal response has long expired; I now have more and better resources. But at some point my brain had made the response automatic, so I was NOT making a conscious decision about it.

This pre-set to contact (which is acting all the time because we’re ‘in contact’ with something all the time) created a mindset for me, an attitude towards life in general, and a particular posture or physiognomy to go with it.
I’d been working at changing my postural habits for quite a while (with varying levels of success) until this crucial bit of information came to me. Only now was I really ready to change: cause I realized that posture grows out of a mindset, and what I needed was help in changing mine.

So what can YOU do to start changing your postural habits?

You need to discover what your basic mindset towards contact is. Do you mainly withdraw from it? Push into it? Cling onto it? Or are you ambivalent about it?

If you really want to change your posture, it pays to pay attention.

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Do you still want to change your posture?

If your answer is still “yes”, and you’ll be in Montevideo (Uruguay) in February then you can come to one of my workshops on Posture for very small groups (just you and one or two of your friends).

Interested?  Put your name and email in the sign-up form that appears at the top right of this blog and I’ll send you the informationn.

Cheers

Victoria
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Image credits:
"Young lady with reflection" by admr/freedigitalphotos.net



On 14:47 by Victoria Stanham   No comments
What is the first question that strikes you when change happens?


When some distressing change occurs in my life my first reaction is to look up to the heavens, shake my fist and scream, “WHY?

Three possible answers: the world is at fault, I am at fault, or guilt is shared between the world and me. I can work on the “me” part.

The next question that crops up is: “WHAT FOR?” A change in perspective, a veering from the past into the future. I can now choose a conscious direction for the change that was occurring.

But still it isn’t enough. I now have the direction but no means of following it. I am stuck in my old habits and once the turmoil of change (that paradoxically wonderful moment when true change is possible because all our old reference points are up-ended for a while) is over, I will revert to all my old patterns, unconsciously and consciously searching for my old footholds that will reinstate my old routines.

HOW?” That becomes my new battle cry. How is the key to everything, how is the key to power.

Take your computer for example.

You can have a fairly good idea of why it was invented; and you know what you use it forBut, should it break down, do you know how to fix it so it can continue to fulfill its why and what for?

I know precious little about the how’s of most things I own. I trust that if something goes wrong with them I’ll have a trusty expert to send the malfunctioning bit to, and he or she will fix it for me. Or it is sometimes easier to chuck the malfunctioning apparatus and get a new one.

But your bodies (mental, physical, emotional) can’t be replaced. They were originally designed for self-maintenance and a long shelf-life, if treated according to design. Even when you don’t treat them according to design, they still get you through each and every day as best they can, until you finally run them down and they call it quits.

In other words, it’s paramount that you get a little insight into how your body works, how it was designed and hence where you might be pushing it a bit too far beyond its inbuilt self-regulatory functions. It is also paramount that you become more sensitive to the signals your body sends you so that you know how to aid that self-regulation instead of hampering it.

Your body is a vast and multifold universe, impossible to grasp in its totality by any one person. So, what little area of that universe can you focus on that will be most beneficial to the overall?

Two intertwined areas (that are really only one) are most important when it comes to helping yourself: posture and propioception.

If your posture follows your structural design, then everything that is held within the body will be occupying its correct space and functioning at greater ease, than if it is stretched or compressed out of shape.

For example think of your house. If its structure is a little askew, with tilting walls, caved in roofs and uneven floors, your furniture and appliances would have a very difficult time fitting in, staying put and hence working correctly. You’d need to tie-up or super-glue your fridge to the wall so that it doesn’t slide away into the living room.

So how do you change your posture?

You need to work on fine-tuning your propioception. The more you
can tell where the different bits of you are in space and in relation to each other, the more you can arrange them where you want them to go. If you cannot ‘feel’ that you are out-of-shape, if the signals of strain, tightness and tension don’t register in your consciousness (alas! The out-of-shapeness even feels ok! It doesn’t register at all as wrong!), you will be hard-pressed to do anything about the havoc those tensions are creating in your body and life. You might see the effects (high stress levels, anxiety, depression, your poor posture in the mirror or photographs, etc.) but you’ll be unable to change them.

Change requires awareness of what needs to be changed.

Do you want to change your posture?

If the answer is yes, let me give you a series of pointers on what change requires:

1.      Awareness of what needs to be changed.
2.    Knowledge about how that thing works (this might give you a clue as to why you haven’t been able to fix it yet).
3.    Insight into the key feature upon which change hinges.
4.    References outside of yourself to gauge your process (mirrors!).
5.     A teacher and a practice group (they provide knowledge, outside reference, motivation, and a sense of belonging).
6.    A detailed and thought out plan as to how to deal with specific obstacles so that you’re prepared when the gremlins of temptation whisper in your ear.
7.     A willingness to experiment, make mistakes and learn (ditch perfectionism! You don’t even know what “perfect” looks or feels like anyway).
8.    A deep desire to change (this means you are aware of the insidious effects of the thing-to-be-changed in your life… not your mom, your spouse or your doctor)
9.    The ability to remember (this needs working on for all of us, I assure you! It is necessary in more ways than one).

Do you still want to change your posture?

If the answer is still yes, and you’ll be in Montevideo (Uruguay) in February then I’ve got an invitation for you.

I’ll be doing a series of workshops on Posture for very small groups (just you and one or two of your friends).

If you’re interested, put your name and email address in the sign up box at the top-right corner of this blog. I’ll be sending you all the relevant info next week to your mailbox.

Cheers!

Victoria

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Image credits:

"Confusion Meter" by Stuart Miles /freedigitalphotos.net

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