May is National Posture Month. I fell in love with the magical effects of good posture in 1974 and have improved my posture every year since then. The results have been incredible. The integrity of our logic is a direct reflection of the integrity of our posture. Good posture creates a solid foundation for a great life.
While writing this article on posture, I am joyfully remembering yesterday at Alpine Meadows, skiing all the ungroomed slopes: breathing out strong, hands out in front of me, core abdominal muscles absolutely taut so my navel can only turn about 6 degrees in either direction, sitting back so the weight is on my heels, feeling my spine settle down at the end of the turn so my skis porpoise out of each landing. The magic of good form while spring skiing.
In everyday life, the pure joy of walking down a flight of stairs without having to look at our feet produces feelings of enchantment in our body. Breathing out strong from the lower abdomen draws our spirit fully into the body, turning all our subtle energy centers full on, including “bubbling wells” at the ball of our feet. That chakra—when breathing out strong activates it—gives us a field of awareness about the size of snow shoes all around our feet.
Without having to look down, we know where our feet are on the stair tread, even with thick-soled shoes. Walking down stairs with our sternum lifting up, we are free to look out over the whole area at the bottom of the stairs.
Letting yourself fully experience the fear of falling (the reason everyone looks at their feet the whole way down the stairs) is liberating. We experience the exhilaration in our bodymind that we often felt as a child doing cool new things, sometimes risky things. Remember? We get to relive all those wonderful childhood feelings when we use good posture just doing mundane things like walking out to the car.
Until we learn correct posture, our tendency when walking up hills or stairs is to lean further forward the steeper they are. By the time we get to the top of the hill or stairs the lever systems of our musculoskeletal system are seriously out of balance, some overworked, others under functioning. Every organ has a group of muscles and ligaments that make the energy that organ uses. Any disharmony to our musculoskeletal system causes similar disharmony to our consciousness. As a result, we feel discombobulated by the time we get to the top of the stairs or hill.
We have a bodymind with seven functioning dimensions. Any imbalance of the musculoskeletal system creates imbalance to the whole bodymind. The stress to our body stresses our mind. The stress then causes our brain to conjure up its worst thinking. It’s a total buzz killer. Most people hate taking the stairs or having to walk up a long hill.
90% of our brain’s functions are related to posture. 90%! When our bodymind gets stressed out by incorrect posture, the brain spins out story after story to explain to itself why it feels so bad. The brain’s stories are actually hallucinations. We could be having a beautiful day with loved ones and for some reason we go into a funky posture. Immediately our brain reloads the emotional pain from the earliest unresolved situations connected to this incorrect posture. Then it spins one story after another to explain those unresolved feelings to itself.
The brain superimposes those stories over the top of what would have otherwise been a wonderful day. At that point, we are not really here and now. We are back in that painful unresolved memory. Technically we are experiencing a hallucination. It would be totally weird if most of the people around us were not doing similar things. Pet scans show that the average person’s brain spins out approximately 70,000 thought forms every day. Incorrect posture causes the brain to generate those stories, these hallucinations.
So, what happens when you make good posture your lifelong habit? The main thing is that good posture does not have any history—no story. There is only now, the present moment. That’s when magic happens. When you are in the present moment, your past is not defining you. You are free to create your life just the way you want it. After all, you are the author of your life.
I love walking up the steep walkway from the back of my yard, breathing out strong, my sternum lifting up, feeling like it is lifting my whole body up. All my muscles are participating exquisitely, in balance, powerful, aligned. I feel my core (just below my naval) at the center of my muscular actions. It’s fun to feel the excitement when everything is in balance, working at its potential. It’s enchanting.
Here are the four simple rules that resolve 95% of what can go wrong with posture:
Breathe out strong
Your sternum is always lifting up, shoulders relaxed down and slightly forward
Once your neck and shoulders are loose and relaxed, the back of your head is always gently pushing upward and rocking forward.
Your feet are parallel
Every part of your life works better when you are living in the present moment. That’s the gift of good posture.