User Manual

Second Habit—Stand Tall

Our body is mostly consciousness and energy. We have 15 very powerful circulatory systems that run their energies up and down our torso, our arms and legs. Although our circulatory systems are powerful, they are all easily kinked by slumping, favoring injuries or letting our feet toe out.

I have distilled posture down to four simple rules:

  1. Breathe out strong. Feel your abdominal muscles work as you breathe out, which strengthens your core. Then feel your lower abdomen expand as your diaphragm fills your lungs full of air. Your chest can expand at the end of the in breath, not at the beginning. The in-breath is passive, autonomic. It always matches the intensity of the out-breath.
  2. Lift up your sternum, No matter whether you are sitting, standing, walking on flat ground, walking up hills or stairs or lifting something, your sternum is always lifting up. With your sternum lifting up, you do not squander your life force with excessive side-to-side motion while you are walking or having your head lean out forward. These first two rules stabilize your core. They resolve at least 70% percent of what can go wrong in posture, gait, lifting, or going up and down hills or stairs.
  3. The back of your skull is always gently pushing upward Once your shoulders are relaxed, what my wife calls “loosey goosey shoulders,” let your head float up to its sweet spot where it takes minimum energy to hold it erect. Your ears line up directly over your shoulders. Your forehead rocks just slightly forward, so if you had a laser lamp on your forehead, its red dot would bounce along on the ground at about forty-five feet (15 meters) in front of you.
  4. Your feet Are parallel when walking or standing, even though it might not feel natural at first. This causes your inner (medial) muscles to develop in your legs, pelvis and up into your lower torso, front and back. Developing your medial muscles enhances your prowess and balance in literally every sport.

The better your posture, the more powerfully your circulatory systems run. Your life force expresses its full potential. Your innate intelligence has clear, open channels for all its communication throughout your entire bodymind, through all fifteen of your circulatory systems.

Stand tall and sit erect. Having correct posture holds you in the present moment where you are the hero of your own wonderful life, the author of your own story.

Spirituality is simply mindfulness of basic bodily functions like posture and breathing out strong. When you are walking in correct posture, you experience whole-body awareness, bringing you fully into the present moment. This creates such a stable platform that your bodymind, spirit and soul can integrate a more dynamic well-being with each passing year.

The simplest definition of health is: Every cell is communicating clearly with every other cell. A strong flexible body creates a strong flexible mind. You make better decisions. Elegant posture is one of the secrets of longevity.

Walk Like This

Research from universities all over the world shows that: When walking, or running, land on the midpoint of your feet—not on your heels. Feel the arches of your feet expressing upward as you push off at the end of your stride.

Practice the “short foot exercise,” which is shortening your feet by making your arches come up, without clawing your toes. Walking like that, with your arches expressing upward, enhances the muscular tonus of all the front and back muscles of your legs, torso, and even up to the top of your neck and head. This gait moves you forward more vertically, eliminating the side-to-side movements that creates the knee/feet dysfunction that so many people experience.

Most people I observe only complete one side of their pelvis’s figure eight movements, and have the low-back problems to prove it. Becoming aware of each foot completing its push off at the end of each step forces both sacroiliac joints to complete their figure eight movements. This resolves many low-back problems.

Walking this way, your whole body feels incredibly alive and turned on. You are aware of your feet throughout your entire gait, like most animals are. You feel more connected to Mother Earth.

When you are walking this way, just walking out to your car feels magical. All your muscles and ligaments function harmoniously, more effortlessly. Every year your energy levels increase dramatically.

Just walking out to your car this way takes you back to the sense of exhilaration you experienced as a child doing simple movements with your body. Everyday life becomes more exciting. The child-like joy you experienced as a child is not gone forever. You get it back one simple movement at a time.

Going for a 30-minute walk in good posture will literally walk most of the misalignments out of your spine and extremity bones. Pre and post x-rays would confirm that you realigned most of the bones in your spine, legs and feet by simply walking correctly.

When you have problems that you can’t just “walk out,” seeing a chiropractor is a great idea. Chiropractors are specialists who can help you work out the kinks in the alignment of your spine and extremities. It is amazing how much better every aspect of your health becomes when you see your chiropractic doctor at least once per month.

Walking Up Stairs or Hills

We all have entrenched old posture and gait patterns that kink all our circulatory systems and keep us in an unconscious state. The only way we can actually break those old patterns is by coming to a full stop, even if only for an instant. Coming to a full stop is a pattern interrupter.

When you find yourself walking up a slight grade or up steps, stop! Now, lift up your sternum so you are standing erect. When you resume walking up the stairs or hill, you will notice that you are using entirely different muscles that connect you to your core.

Most people walk up hills or stairs leaning forward. Many walk leaning forward on flat ground. Standing or walking like this compresses both shoulder bursa in your upper body and both sacroiliac joints in your lower body. Then every movement or action creates micro-sprains, and they add up. It is the main reason people require hip socket and shoulder replacement surgeries.

With each step, both your sacroiliac joint compress, making it difficult to perform their normal figure eight movements. One side of your pelvis will complete this cycle, but not the other. I see this gait in most people. Most people walk and move unconsciously.

Within our bodymind, each organ system has a number of dedicated muscles that make energy for that system. Leaning forward unbalances all our muscles. Many muscles work too hard while others under-function. This imbalances the organ systems that use that electrical energy to function.

This imbalance disorientates our consciousness so much that most people balk at going up stairs or hills. When we walk up hills or stairs with our sternum erect, every step heals and balances our bodymind. We feel energized, enlivened by stairs and hills. The same is true for lifting things.

Keep your sternum lifted up and lift with your legs. Every step, every movement either heals or destroys us. Time adds it all up.

How We Go Unconscious

Current pet scan studies reveal that 90% of the brain's functions are directly linked with posture. 90%! Wow! Let's look at this brain posture link more closely.

Each slumping posture contains sensory/motor feedback patterns that re-create old unresolved pain and suffering. They are actually repositories of unresolved memories from earlier dysfunctional times. The instant we slump, we go unconscious.

Our brain takes control of our consciousness. We are transported back to the earliest situation that this posture holds unresolved emotional charge about. Our brain loads that old pattern, with all the feelings, attitudes and beliefs of that unresolved time. That pattern gets superimposed over what we are experiencing. Spiritually, we just fell asleep.

We find ourselves unconsciously responding by acting out all the old attitudes, beliefs, thoughts and actions of that unresolved time. Our unconscious actions tend to cause hurt feelings with everyone around us.

We might be having a picnic with our family on a beautiful day. But our slumping posture loads all the pain and suffering from some earlier unresolved time to the forefront of our mind. In this scene, we are hallucinating. In this hallucination, all the unresolved pain from the past unresolved event gets projected over our family at our picnic. All this happens the moment we slump.

We are no longer in the present moment. Technically, we are fixated in an unresolved past/future construct. Our brain keeps dredging up around our family and friends until we actually feel all those feelings from that time.

For most people, these unconscious hallucinations occur dozens of times daily. Because they have reacted this way thousands of times in their past, it seems normal to them. Others around them are acting out similarly. These unconscious reactions occur every time we slump.

Our brain has hundreds of thousands of programs for everything we have ever done more than once, and keeps them updated, even to the last time we thought about that subject. It acts like a disc jockey, playing what it considers the most appropriate tape for every situation we face.

Then it thinks numerous thoughts about it. As a result, the average person’ brain generates approximately 70,000 stories a day, like a hamster running on a squirrel cage. And all those thoughts are the brain’s reactions to problems it focuses on and judgments it makes about how unfair life is.

Spiritually, there are two worlds. The world our heart creates is the real world. The problems outside of us that the brain wants to focus on are mostly illusion. On the spiritual level, the 70,000 thoughts we think are only distractions that keep us asleep.

Now the good news: Every time we resume breathing out strong (first habit) or sit or stand erect (second habit), we wake up to the present moment where our heart creates our own unique world in the most loving and efficient manner and help others to do the same.

Waking Up

Every time we resume breathing out strong or sitting erect, we wake up from yet another old mental/emotional pattern of our past. More importantly, how we handle ourselves replaces that old unconscious program with the more empowered one.

Every moment we are overwriting our DNA. But until we wake up to the present moment, we keep overwriting our DNA with the same tired old stories our brain has generated for our whole life. When we are breathing out strong and standing tall, we are continually overwriting our DNA in ever more empowering ways.

Practicing abdominal breathing and good posture replaces dozens of limiting thought-forms with ever more empowering ones, enhancing our self-esteem in the process. With this practice, we just about double our self-esteem every year. Life becomes exciting. Such promise awaits us.

We move—and experience life—as an authentic woman or man, free from society’s conditioning, free from the limitations of all the old stories about who we have been or what we can’t do. We become the lead actor as our lives transform into hero’s journeys.

Excerpted from Body Intelligence, A New Paradigm by John L. Mayfield, D.C.

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John L. Mayfield, D.C —
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