Friday, 14 March 2014
Bad Posture is one of those silent evils, like cholesterol or bad breath: you don’t really notice it until it becomes a serious problem (an unsightly hump, a herniated disc, a tension headache, a bout of back pain that leaves you out of business for several days).
Perhaps you only remember your bad posture when you catch a glimpse of yourself in a mirror, when your back aches after a long day at work or minding the children, or when a friend, spouse, mother (or tactless acquaintance) tells you, “Oh darling! You really must do something about that posture of yours. If not, you’re going to end up humped like a camel!”
Then, and only then (and only for a short while I might add), you actually do something to mask the problem: You tighten your back muscles to pull yourself up straight (this lasts you until it you can’t stand the strain any longer… which is not long); You go shopping to get yourself the latest ergonomic chair and gadget on the market (which seems to help, but you soon figure out how to “get comfortably slouchy” in it too); You Google the phrase “quick posture exercises” (which you practice, at most, once or twice and then drop because they make you achy).
The thing is that deep down inside you know that posture is not something you can fix with band-aid. You need to take the matter a whole lot more seriously… and that’s what’s stopping you from actually doing anything about it: “Oh dang it! I really must actually change something, mustn’t I?”
Here’s some good news for you: Changing your posture is actually simple and extremely pleasurable.
It’s simple because the fundamental change occurs in an instant: suddenly, as you release the habitual muscle tensión patterns that were keeping you down, you go up, expand, grow… and you do it with no back-pain! It feels strange, pleasurably strange.
Learning t olive from that new place takes time: you need to grow into that new way of being and feeling… And pleasurable as it may be, the truth it you have no clue how to act from this new self-identity. You might even fear that people will look at you strangely and say, “You look different. What’s going on? Are you still you or are you involved in something strange?”
Why is this so?
The answer may well be in the word “posture” itself.
The word posture describes not only a physical form. We also use the word posture in expressions like, “The woman refused to change her posture on the matter.”
In this case the word posture does not relate to the woman’s straight or hunched back; it relates to her point of view or attitude. Interestingly enough, your point of view is rooted in where (and how) you stand (both literally and metaphorically). [If you’re interested in the subject of posture and mindset you might want to check out this entry, or this one for more on the subject of words and their interpretations].
Therefore, when we talk about “changing our posture”, we’re not only talking about changing our physical appearance. What we’re also delving into the delicate area of changing how we face Life.
In February of this year I gave a series of workshops on posture to a varied group of people. In the short space of an hour and half, all participants could walk the path that lead them from their habitual posture to a more upright and elegant state of poise, that required no excessive muscular effort to hold.
However, the ability to hold that change in time requires an inner shift: a shift in the way you think about your posture. And that’s the tough bit about change… sustaining, until it becomes naturalized, a new way of thinking.
Change requires energy, and that can tire you. [Check out this entry for an exploration on the subject of change fatigue].
Change requires you to live for a while in a state of uncertain equilibrium, and that is scary. We all have our habitual equilibrium states (however efficient or inefficient energy-wise they may be), and change challenges that delicate equilibrium. When undergoing a bout of change, we must live for a while without knowing all the rules, without having all the answers. The situation gets better with time, but at the beginning you’re a beginner, you don’t know, and that might feel like an uncomfortably vulnerable place to inhabit. [If you’re interested, in this entry and this one I tell you about my own experiences in this area].
Change requires you to learn to live from the new place in different situations. Perhaps you can hold your new perspective on life while you’re leisurely taking a stroll down the beach, having a nice cup of tea, or during your relaxing yoga class… But… What about those moments when everything goes bezerk at work? And when you’re having an argument with your spouse, your kids or a friend? Or when you’re about to face an important interview, meeting or conference room? And standing around in 4-inch heels at a party with no visible chair in sight? [My most basic advice for these cases is still what I mention here, but I’ll look into each one of these situations in future blogs].
It’s frustrating, I know. Going from your actual posture to your better posture is as simple as taking a step… but it’s a step into the unknown. That single step can be so monumental in its transformative powers that we might be left standing with our foot dangling in the air, unsure if we want to take the plunge at all. We have to tool and the directions for change, but we hesitate to start walking the path. We can’t go back to acting like we don’t know how to change our problem… but we’re afraid to fail at the change. In that space that’s neither here nor there, doubts come quickly calling: “And what if I look strange? What if I’m criticized by my loved ones? What if I do it all wrong and hurt myself? What if I don’t like what or who I turn into? What if I try and fail?”
What to do then? What compass will orient you in this new territory?
This blog is already long enough. Let’s tackle the answers to these questions next time. See you soon!
- ▼ March (4)
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