"We are a resonating system in process rather than a stable, solid mass"
~ Randall McClellom ~
The connection between body and mind is such that what happens in our every day leaves its imprint on the body. Life, or to be more precise, our perception of it, constantly shapes us.
The language we use reflects this: we speak of feeling crushed by a careless remark, squeezed by a tight schedule, or weighed down by troubles. And what we feel inside finds expression in the way our physical body organises itself. For instance, our body may assume a collapsed posture when we feel depressed and powerless or an over-rigid one if we feel the need to protect ourselves and control our circumstances.
It's not just significant past events that mould us but the daily grind of the day-to-day. If we've spent hours under intense pressure at work it's likely we'll take the 'shape' (we took on during that time) back home with us without realising it. The physical body tends to 'mould' itself from the inside out as internal feelings and psychological states find expression in the body's soma.
The good news is that nothing is 'set', as Random McClellom eloquently says, you are "a resonating system in process rather than a stable solid mass". Positive shifts in well-being can happen through practising a little regular daily awareness. Just as changing your mindset affects how you feel physically, re-organising your body posture can bring about significant changes at psychological and emotional levels.
Here are some simple mindfulness exercises for you to try. Pause several times in your day, notice your body posture, and:
• if your shoulders are raised, notice what happens if you lower them.
• if your shoulders and chest are collapsed inwards, notice what happens if you put your shoulders back.
• if your jaw is clenched, notice what happens if you let is soften.
• if your hands are clenched, notice what happens if you let them soften.
• if you are holding your arms rigidly by your side, notice what happens if you let them loosen and swing as you walk.
• if you are walking with stiff legs, notice what happens if you soften your knees and put a bounce in your step.
• if you are holding on to your breath, notice what happens if you let it out.
• if you are holding your tummy in, notice what happens if you allow it to soften.
• if you are looking down at the ground, notice what happens if you lift your chin and look up at the sky.
Some more suggestions...
• Physically shake off tension from your body like a dog having a vigorous shake-out. Try doing this after a long drive, before/after a difficult meeting or after a long period sitting at the computer.
• Do some simple stretches every day - try this outside if the weather is nice.
• Be spontaneous - dance, skip, sing!
• Re-discover your inner child - have fun and do something silly!
• Alter your routine and do something different for a change.
• Make time to get away to somewhere completely different - a walk in the woods, a trip to the seaside, a visit to somewhere that inspires and lifts you.
The exquisitely sophisticated connection between body and brain (with its dense communication network of neural pathways, cellular memory and hormonal release) means you can re-organise how you feel inside and even change the way you think, through simply re-organising yourself from the outside. The mind and body are one - there's no separation between the two, hence changing the set of your body posture may bring about desired shifts in your sense of well-being.
And, since scientific research in Psycho-neuro-immunology has established a link between well-being and general health, it's good reason to take a look at the postural habits you've developed over the years, and start exploring new ones that serve you better!
Linda Hall is a talented and experienced meditation teacher and a valued member of The Guided Meditation Site. Please follow this link to explore Linda Hall's guided meditations.