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.
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 impacts. 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 that?
Copyright © Karen Kingston 2021
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