• March 3, 2017

    You frequently mention postures in your discussions about work on self. What is their importance in this work?

    Have you observed your most common postures? Have you noticed that these postures have characteristic imbalances which compensate for each other? When you sit, the same leg crosses over the other, one leg and hip shortening while the opposite ones are lengthened, offset perhaps by contractions in one shoulder and the way you rest one arm while gesturing with the other?

    You slip into these habitual postures very easily, do you not, no awareness required? These postures support the things you do. They are functional. Would it surprise you to know that these postures therefore also have related patterns of thought? Have you noticed that each posture with its specific muscular contractions has a corresponding way of thinking about yourself, a set of actions and moods which are possible in that posture and which you are programmed to reproduce? It is not easy to see this linkage but impartial observation can open this to you over time.

    A skilled physical trainer would be able to see that your standing and sitting postures are skewed, some muscles working while others do not, leaving you to fight the effects of gravity in a less than ideal alignment that limits your actions and the awareness of yourself and the space you inhabit.

    This is the organism in which you wish to have voluntary attention and presence.

    We have spoken many times about the physical organism being a possible apparatus for the production of higher energies needed to awaken from sleep. The base of the triad of energies needed for transformation of self is sensitive energy which is used functionally to produce sensation and to notice what is happening to oneself. Habitual postures do not require and therefore do not use sensitive energy. They occur automatically, using automatic energy, which is why we do not even notice them. There is nothing there to work with, energetically speaking. What is needed is sensitive energy which attention can transform into consciousness. Sensitive energy is natural to the organism if it is not lost through habituation.

    The link between physical posture on the one hand, and thoughts and moods on the other, is in part via the impact of posture on breath. If breath is constricted and channelled always in the same ways, not only is the physical organism starved of energy but also the range of possible experience is greatly limited. The rhythm, length, volume and balance of the breath have enormous physical and psychological consequences but changing the breath is not possible without deprogramming habitual posture.

    It therefore stands to reason that working with a skilled trainer or a real yoga instructor can be useful, to reprogram muscles and shift postures, to become more sensitive and balanced, thereby increasing the range of possible experience and enhancing the possibility of transforming energies. Unfortunately, it is very rare to find competent assistance.

    What can you accomplish on your own? You could observe that you habitually engage unnecessary muscular tensions. Noticing and releasing unnecessary tensions is always a useful exercise. Releasing improves with practice. Energy is saved and breath is more accommodated, less restricted. Small but incremental gains can be had in this way.

    Here is another exercise. Choose a posture you wish to work with. Every time you find yourself in this posture, deliberately change it in the same specific way. Can you notice which muscles are less able to co-operate with this repositioning? Can you discover how to enable these muscles to work more effectively? It may be that they are not themselves the original problem but rather that they are overcompensating for muscles that have ceased to perform their function. Slowly but surely you may be able to erase habitual postures.

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