Change your posture, change your life

One of the great secrets to a happy life is understanding how much your posture reflects how you feel and, conversely, that changing your posture can change how you feel.


Look up!

Many years ago, I attended a bodywork workshop that began in a very unusual way. The first thing the teacher asked each person to do was to walk back and forth a few times in front of everyone. He then asked us all to comment on the person’s posture.

It was astonishing to discover that out of a class of 35 supposedly self-aware people who had already done many years of personal development work, hardly any of us looked up as we walked. Without realizing it, most of us had the habit of walking with our eyes on the ground in front of us.

‘If you want to be happy in life, you must look up when you walk’, the teacher explained kindly on that first day, and continued to drill it into us for the rest of the week. This simple change of physical focus brought about a profound change in my posture and hence my attitude to life, which has stayed with me ever since.

Well, mostly. There have been lapses.

Walloped by a mango

The most memorable of these was some ten years or so later, when I was living in Bali. At that time, I used to circle the globe two or three times each year, teaching my clutter clearing and space clearing workshops. Each trip generally lasted about three months and I would arrive back home in Bali quite tired from all the travelling.

One day, after a three-month trip visiting a dozen destinations, I was walking along the windy path between my home and the main road when suddenly something dense thwacked me on the forehead, stopping me in my tracks. There, dangling before my eyes, was a huge, green, semi-ripe mango hanging from a tree. In my state of exhaustion, I had been looking at the ground and had walked straight into it.

Two young Balinese boys who were watching smiled at my mishap. As a nation the Balinese are ever compassionate, but constantly amused and fascinated at how clumsy most westerners are.

Then ten minutes later, walking down the same path in the opposite direction, I got smacked by the same mango again. This time the two young boys could not contain their mirth. They howled with laughter. How could I do the same thing twice?

Well, I have to tell you that I walked down that path each day for the next three days, and on each occasion, I got walloped by that mango again. Thankfully, no one was around to see these continuing collisions, although friends did ask me why I had such a large bruise on my forehead.

On the third day, I finally admitted to myself that the travelling and jetlag had taken a much greater toll on me than usual, and something needed to be done. I booked a two-hour massage with my favourite Balinese masseuse to revitalize my etheric and also consciously readjusted my focus to look up as I walked. I quickly bounced back to my usual energized self and artfully dodged that mischievous low-hanging mango from then on.

Humans are designed to be vertical

The thing about walking with your head up is that you become vertical, as humans are designed to be.

Next time you have a profound realization about something, observe what happens to your posture. Usually, all by itself, your head and body will go bolt upright, and your eyes will look straight ahead. You will freeze momentarily in this position while you assess the new understanding you’ve just had.

This is not something you have to teach yourself how to do. It’s how the human body naturally responds so that you can get the most mileage from the “Aha!” moment. What’s really interesting is WHY this happens, and the answer lies in the realms of human subtle body structures.

Running through the centre of the human torso is a channel of energy known, unsurprisingly, as the central channel. This extends above the head in a more refined structure known as the central thread, which lies at the core of an extraordinary subtle body organ of perception known as verticality. It is through verticality that we have realizations and, conversely, having realizations makes our posture completely vertical. The two go hand in hand. We are designed to be vertical, not to slouch.

Change your posture, change your life

Depressed people can benefit from knowing this. A simple change of posture from slumped to vertical helps to change a person’s entire outlook on life. They may not feel like doing this because their dejected posture reflects how they feel. But changing posture really does bring about a change in mood, so it’s well worth doing.

One of the best ways to lift your spirits when you feel down is to go for a walk, because walking is done vertically. For the full effect, make sure your head is vertical too, not hanging down or with your eyes looking at the ground.

This lovely nugget of wisdom has far-reaching effects. Posture experts urge us to sit or stand with our shoulders back and head up, and perhaps you try to remember to do this because you know you “should”. What I’m suggesting is completely different. I’m suggesting you do it because it will make you feel so much better and will also increase your likelihood of having more profound “Aha!” moments in your life. Who wouldn’t love more of those?

Copyright © Clear Space Living Ltd, 2021

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About Karen Kingston

Karen Kingston is a leading expert in clutter clearing, space clearing, feng shui, and healthy homes. Her two international bestselling books have combined sales of over three million copies in 26 languages and have established themselves as "must-read" classics in their fields. Her best-known title, Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui, is now in its fifth edition. She is best known for her perspective-changing insights and practical solutions that enable more conscious navigation of 21st-century living.
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9 Responses to Change your posture, change your life

  1. A chiropractor noted my spine was so straight that it lacked it’s necessary normal curves. It was natural, i.e. beneficial, to have just a bit of a slump to achieve some curve. One possible cause for the straight spine was long years of the imbued feeling of not being enough and striving, perhaps over striving, to do my best. Through years of meditation the importance of the central channel is paramount in my thoughts, however hours of straight spine meditation brings much pain. Is there a happy medium? Thank you!

    1. Hi Nan- This is too complex a question to answer here in a sentence or two. It’s better suited to a Personal Insight session with Richard. I suggest you either book a session with him or start with a free 10-minute Meet Richard Zoom chat to discuss what help he can offer.

  2. Thank you Karen for sharing your enormous experience and knowledge and bang it unforgettable into our head with lovely mango stories. I started realising my posture when finding a lot of coins on the ground or thinking, nobody is looking at me… well how could I see it looking downward?

    Than changing my posture I met quite some sparkling eyes looking at me or realising how many look downward. And finding coins on the ground today means more like, yeah just picked the right moment to look down. Thank you for tickling these moments of awareness up again. There are so many “mangos” around every day. It is good to know we have so many tools to work on us inside out and outside in if we are willing to do so.

    <3 <3 <3 Thank you Karen for your helpful work and being <3 <3 <3

  3. This has some sense in it. But I know a 45 y.o. person whose back is always straight and he always looks ahead of him while walking (years of professional dancing behind his back). And his voice is very strong and loud…

    Well, he’s one of the most ehm.. moody persons I know, often depressed and not trusting in life, very critical of everything and everyone, quite negative actually. Not pleasant to be around him for a longer time. Such a paradox, as a matter of fact.

  4. My mother put me in a ballet class when I was three years old, and I kept it up for twenty years, until I was 23. I can still remember my first teacher (whom I had from 3 to 13) telling us that we should always imagine that there was a string attached to the top of our heads pulling us “up,up, up” and likewise weights on our shoulders pressing them “down, down, down”. I am so grateful for this early training, since to this day, if I find myself slouching, I guiltily straighten up, imagining the string and the weights.

  5. I wonder if the workshop you attended was an Alexander Technique workshop. They teach to look ahead and not down, which as you explain has a huge impact on effortless posture. My Alexander teacher encourages to think, “forward and up” when we’re vertical – NOT to actually do anything physically to go forward and up but simply to think it – as this alone will help keep natural alignment. I don’t think Frederick M. Alexander knew this, but this non-doing of “forward and up” through the top of the head always helps me tune into my subtle body structures through my head as well.

    1. Hi Sara – I’m familiar with the Alexander Technique, but the workshop I attended all those years ago was a professional Body Harmony practitioner training. Its focus was not on posture at all but on cultivating etheric awakening.

  6. I loved this story, too, and found fascinating the idea that the body responds to an “aha” moment by becoming more vertical. I want to add one thought. Habitual poor posture and too much sitting and screen time can shorten muscles and tighten ligaments and connective tissue, making it hard to achieve good posture even when we are consciously trying to. Adding some daily deep full-body stretching, in addition to whatever exercise one is already doing, can really help, and quickly.

  7. Karen, I love all your articles. In reading your article on posture, I found your story about the hanging mango very delightful.
    Thank you, Barbara

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