Ever wonder why you don't get promoted at the office, or noticed at the singles bar?
Very few people have the nerve to tell you that you carry yourself poorly. Vastly fewer will even notice as they are too busy pouring adulation on the genetically gifted.
Your habitual body profile shapes how you are perceived by others, which in turn shapes how you perceive yourself. This self image could be negative. In which case the pattern becomes destructive and even more ingrained. Such a state can cause persistent physical and psychological bugbears.
So what's keeping you from having wide, relaxed shoulders?
Astoundingly, most of us never bring our conscious awareness to how we do the things we do. We simply haul ourselves into activity as if under hypnosis. We lift, walk, type, play instruments with little thought to the coordination of muscular effort we put forth in these activities. I call this "Doing one thing, and thinking another."
We are in a constant state of pushing ourselves really hard. In the Alexander Technique we call this "end-gaining", and it can really put the hurt on an otherwise healthy person. Slumped shoulders are caused by an over-excited fear response which crooks the neck forward, pulls the back of the head down, and elevates the shoulder blades.
[Related: Anatomy of the Startle Pattern]
Yet, despite what your parents told you, putting your shoulders back and standing up straight are band-aid solutions at best.
Frustratingly, you may find yourself reverting right back to your familiar slump. Why is this so? Because the way you hold yourself habitually, the extent and manner in which you hold tension in your body is below your level of awareness.
We call this dissociative state "habit". Habit is related to the reason why you don't have to be consciously aware of how to turn the steering wheel of your car, or comb your hair. Congratulations, you posses higher brain functions! Want nicer shoulders? Please read on.
Truth be told, we are all blessed with certain genetic gifts.
We may not all have movie-star good looks or a regal bearing, perhaps not. But we all have the capacity to change the way we coordinate our thinking with our movement. Here's the bottom line: you can improve the shape of your shoulders, but you will also have to improve the way you think.
The good news is that improving how you think is a mighty good idea. The bad news is that it's not for the chronically inattentive. Now, I won't ask you do get up off the couch and perform grueling exercises. But when you do rise from the couch, I will ask you to STOP and THINK about how you're doing it.
So the very first thing I will ask you to do is to STOP.
Stop, for a brief moment, before you rise from the couch. Stop before you reach for the computer. Stop before you pick up the dog toy from the ground. Stop before you chop the onion. Train your mind to stop. Do this often, do this daily.
We call this stopping "Inhibition". Inhibition creates room for a spontaneous, creative, and inspired solution to the task of accomplishing any goal. Inhibition short-circuits the habit reflex, and gives you an opportunity to reconsider the effort and coordination of your mind and body as you engage in activity. Inhibition is the proverbial rabbit hole. Get into it.
Next, I will ask you to consider the delicate manner in which your head balances at the very top of your spine.
Your spine, in fact, rises from the tail bone and continues all the way behind your face to a point between your ears just below eye-level. Go look in a mirror and you might be surprised by where your neck and head actually meet.
Think of this delicate balance of head on the neck as you allow your shoulders to widen. Think of letting your shoulder blades release to the sides as you allow your neck to be free. This process of thinking reverses the effects of the startle pattern.
Stopping and directing yourself while engaging in activity allows you to explore an improved coordination of mind and body. Wide, relaxed shoulders are just one of many benefits of this remarkable procedure.
Don't forget to leave a comment and as usual, thank you for stopping by!