Most people in the modern world tend to have poor posture.
I'm sure that part of it is our general detachment from our bodies. We spending most of our days sitting in front of computers, TVs, on couches, in cars, or on punishing assembly lines.
Perhaps if we were more in touch with our bodies, with nature, and with the natural functions that our bodies evolved to perform, our posture would be better.
I remember how sad I was as I watched my children's wonderful and natural child posture slowly deteriorate as they grew older. Slouching at their computer or while watching TV, I constantly tried to get them to "sit up straight!" To no avail, unfortunately.
Gradually, this seems to happen to most of us. In fact, poor posture has become so much the norm that chairs, car-seats, and the like are now all designed in such a way that they foster poor posture.
Unfortunately, the ultimate results of chronic poor posture include chronic body pain and even internal organ dysfunction. This is a blind spot of conventional medicine, but is well understood by alternative practitioners such as chiropractors.
I'm sure that 90% of the chronic aches and pains that people experience could be rectified through better posture. My own personal posture problem has always been something called a forward neck.
In the past, it has led to all kinds of problems, including tingling on one side of my body.
My problem was finally solved when I went through a series of posture classes called the Gokhale Method, which I wholeheartedly recommend. Another fascinating teaching about posture can be found in F.M. Alexander's book, The Use of the Self.
Many years ago I took lessons from an Alexander teacher on the "Alexander Technique". It is a form of posture therapy that is popular among musicians and actors, since it is so important for their craft to maintain good posture.
But have you ever considered that body posture pertains not only to our bodies but also to our psyches - our feelings, our thoughts, even our energy bodies? As I point out in Active Consciousness, the spiritual teacher G.I. Gurdjieff was well aware of the relationship between posture and the Self.
As he said,
If you think about it, posture is a key aspect of body language.
As Gurdjieff points out, we can even read people's nationality or profession or social class from their posture. We may not be consciously aware of it, but these kinds of impressions are deep within our unconscious awareness.
What messages are you conveying to others through your posture?
Gurdjieff would often require his students to take on unusual postures and hold them in order to feel the effects on their minds and feelings.
I decided to use my neck issues as a vehicle for exploring this very thing. I soon discovered that posture, thought, feeling, and sensation all have an intimate relationship with one another.
When I was in a particular mental state, I tended to assume a particular posture. And when I deliberately changed my posture, my internal feelings and thought processes immediately changed as well.
In other words, I discovered that posture is a gateway to self-awareness!
My meditation teacher Gary Sherman has been emphasizing this point to his students for years. As he points out, aligning with the central core of our bodies can also align us with our inner Selves.
During my awareness experiments with my neck, I noticed that when my neck was in the forward position, I had the sense of leaving my body energetically to meet or to perceive others. I felt ungrounded or uncentered with my Self.
I also felt a bit more insecure, fearful, or anxious. It evoked the feeling within me of being an anxious or pleading child.
However, when my neck was in the correct position, centered over my spine with my chin down, I felt completely different:
Aaah... Not only did my body feel better physically, but the rest of me did as well - my thoughts, my feelings, my sensations, and my energy bodies too. And looking in the mirror, I could see that I looked younger as well!
Why not experiment with posture as your next Self-awareness project?