Posture as a Path to Personal Enlightenment

As I am away from the laptop this week doing various expos and events that seem to be cropping up like spring weeds, I thought I'd share some words from Certified Rolfer, Sukie Baxter.

When I discovered Sukie, I emailed her in jest about lifting her material, as I felt it resonated so strongly with my own philosophy. She didn't reply (go figure), but it turns out that she is willing to share her ezine articles as long as her tag is included. Which it is, at the bottom.

Enjoy!

Posture as a Path to Personal Enlightenment - by Sukie Baxter

enlightenment
To the extent the body nears the vertical, the more sensitive that person will be, and the more difference in living experience will be felt. Suppose 'mysticism' is what is going on at the atomic and sub-atomic levels? Do we want to sensitize? Or make people harder & tougher to face the world? What is the more human use of human beings, the direction in which we need to evolve or are evolving? - Ida P. Rolf

What is health?  Conventional medical wisdom would tell you that health is a series of markers, numbers and statistics, that give data about an organism.  Dictionary.com defines health as the soundness of body or mind; freedom from disease or ailment.  But what defines a sound body?  Is it low blood pressure, low cholesterol, good stamina?  Is simply not having a disease enough to categorically assume that an organism is 'healthy?' 

I would argue that there is truly something more to health.  It is a state beyond simply surviving, a place of thriving physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.  Truly healthy organisms are those that appear to be walking sunbeams, lighting up a room with their very presence.  Their light and enthusiasm along with their insatiable curiosity about the world are contagious, spreading joy to all those fortunate enough to spend time in their presence.

Most would say that this form of health is a state of mind, due entirely to brain chemistry.  The brain does play an integral role in the total well being of any individual; however, a person's mental state is cannot be separated from that of his body.  In fact, the flexibility of the body is directly correlated to the flexibility of the mind.

Ida P. Rolf, the creator of Rolfing and brilliant mind behind the structural integration movement, did not see her work as 'fixing' or 'curing' any symptom, however frequently pain, strain, and dis-ease in the body vanished seemingly miraculously after a patient received a session. 

In fact, she is famously quoted as saying, "Gravity is the therapist. When the body gets working appropriately, the force of gravity flows through.  Then, spontaneously, the body heals itself."  She understood that the physical healing her clients experienced did not come about from outside forces but rather as a result of achieving an inner, centered balance.

The position and movement of a person's body are expressions of the inner self.  We hear a lot about posture in the media - good posture, bad posture, how posture contributes to back pain or neck pain, how computers shape our posture, etc.  Interestingly, the Online Etymology Dictionary (www.etymonline) states that the word 'posture' stems from the Latin positura, meaning 'position' or 'station.'  In 1877, the verb form of posture was understood to mean, "To take up an artificial mental position."

We are living, breathing, fluid creatures.  Posture connotes a state of fixation, a place of holding.  Instead, our bodies function more like a giant bag of sea water; we slosh this way and that way, molding our forms to our current situation.  Fixations in the body - the holding patterns we generally consider 'good posture' - are literally blocks to the gravitational force.  The force of the gravitational field is immense, and resistance only causes compression and strain.

The correlation of body position to a person's mental and emotional state is impossible to ignore in the context of structural integration work.  In keeping with the holistic nature of her work, Ida P. Rolf saw structural integration as a process that helps human beings to evolve along the continuum of verticality.  Although it seems that we are now creatures walking upright, "We are not truly upright, we are only on our way to being upright.  This is a metaphysical consideration.  One of the jobs of a Rolfer is to speed that process along.  We want to get a man out of the place where gravity is his enemy.  We want to get him into the place where gravity reinforces him and is a friend, a nourishing force."  Ida Rolf saw that patterns in the body were not only a result of physical forces but also mental and emotional, and furthermore, these selfsame patterns create mental and emotional strain.

As you open and unfold from the patterns you've carried with you for years, your mental state begins to shift.  The ideas and notions you held about yourself dissolve and you're open to finding a new identity in the world.  Your ability to perceive the space around you changes, and as your perception of the space changes, the space itself literally changes, for the world is only what we perceive it to be.  In fact, you will generally only see that which you are seeking because your brain is designed to bring you evidence to support current perceptions (if you doubt this, I highly recommend watching this video).

This has an evolutionary advantage.  If you're looking for red berries, everything red and berry like will jump out at you from the forest.  If you're seeking rabbit for supper, you'll start to hear small rustling in the underbrush and see flashes of small, hopping creatures between the bushes.  But this kind of programming can be extremely limiting.  If you have low self esteem and feel that you are inferior to your peers, you will adapt an appropriate body language and only perceive situations that support this mindset.  When your posture shifts and the compensations you've taken on to support your views vanish, your perception expands exponentially and suddenly you will see much more in your world.

As your ability to move your body expands, you literally take in more information about your environment.  Your wider movements stimulate proprioceptors in new ways.  Proprioceptors are incredible little cells inside your muscles, tendons, ligaments, and fascia that tell your body where it is in relation to the space around it.  They help you to not bang into a door jamb or hit your knee on a coffee table.  They keep you from stretching a muscle too far and tearing it.  They send an alert when someone invades your personal space.  The more proprioceptors you are able to stimulate, the more information you take in, and thus the more well informed - enlightened, if you will - you are.

Thus, shifting your posture can be a path to personal enlightenment.  The state of your body directly affects the state of your mind.  If you open up your body and your movement, it will begin to shift your mindset, allowing you more mental and emotional freedom than you imagined possible.

Ready to start on your own path to body enlightenment? I'd recommend scheduling a series of Structural Integration.  This work systematically realigns your body and reconnects your nervous system so you function as a whole again.  Pain disappears and you start to feel more flexible, vibrant, and energetic!  You can also sign up for your first session by emailing me right now!

©2009 Functional Balance, Inc.

Here's the tag: Healing Arts Practitioner and Wellness Consultant, Sukie Baxter, publishes the weekly Embody Your Potential Ezine.  To learn how to rejuvenate your body and soul using natural mind-body wellness solutions that get real results, register for her free weekly articles at www.SukieBaxter.com.