Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Postural Techniques for Clarity and Focus

Dear Readers:

Have you ever noticed that how you move, stand and sit influences how you feel and how well you think? When you are feeling fuzzy, tired, upset, or happy, take a moment to notice what your body is doing. Without changing anything, observe what your autopilot physical positions are when you are in these emotional/mental states. What do you automatically do physically to express or repress what is going on with your mind/emotions?

If you haven’t checked yourself in this way, you are missing out on an incredibly simple tool to shift or elevate mood and improve clarity of thought. Your body is constantly reflecting and communicating, to yourself and to others, what you are feeling and thinking. Just as your mind affects your body, your body affects your mind. They are an inseparable system. A shift in one area impacts the whole.

I still remember the first time I really noticed how I stood when I was bored or irritated, for example, when waiting in a long line at the check-out or in a traffic jam. I was unconsciously making myself feel worse by keeping my chin and gaze down, clenching my hands, and slumping/curving my shoulders inwards.

One day I purposefully set forth to change my posture... and yes, my mood changed as well. But what was more surprising to me was how differently I was treated by others when I shifted my posture. During one day of purposefully standing straighter, taller, and with more relaxation, I had three positive experiences with clerks who were harassed and stressed themselves. I am particularly sensitive to the moods of others, so what was most interesting is that their moods did not affect me nearly as strongly as usual when I maintained a straight, tall, and relaxed stance. My positive stance acted as a shield against their negativity! In fact, it may well have acted as a subtle, but positive influence upon them.

A great benefit is that physical alignment and conscious relaxation helps prevent, minimize, and address many common health concerns caused by repetitive motions, slouching, and neck/shoulder tension.

Here is a sample exercise for improving posture:

Start to build your awareness and attention by doing a self-check at least once every hour throughout your day, and especially when you are doing things that are routine, boring, or irritating for you. When you check in, notice your current mood and thoughts, and then observe the following:

  • How are you standing, moving or sitting?

  • What is happening with your head position, your shoulders and your back?

  • What is happening with your arms and legs?

  • How does what you are feeling translate into your body position?

Once you have your baseline, make a change such as bringing your back to a straight position with shoulders back, adjusting your chin, bringing your eyes up, unclenching hands, uncrossing legs or arms, or relaxing your facial muscles.

Hold the change for at least three breaths. Notice how you feel. Remember, up to 90% of how people evaluate what is happening in face-to-face communication is based on body language. This means it is not what you say, but the way that you say it and not what you do, but the way that you do it that is most effective.

So friends, try this out and write to me and let me know what you noticed and how things changed for you. I am certain it will be quite an eye opener (especially during those deadly dull meetings)!

Warm Regards,


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