Years back I came across this cartoon clip of Charlie Brown exploring how to use his body position to feel his ‘best’ depression
It struck me as funny, true and poignant at the time as it spoke to what I had noticed in my own body which was a familiar pattern of holding that led to me feeling anxious and out of sorts at times.
Despite years of Yoga and movement no matter how many times I rolled my shoulders back they always returned to this position after a little while. I was kind of stumped as to what to do about it. I wasn’t really so bothered about how I looked but I was really curious how my state of mind changed every time my shoulders rolled inward. So I explored many different approaches in an effort to understand what was happening in my mind-body to cause this habitual ‘rounding inward’, and more importantly I wanted to find a way to change it.
What the research into Somatics teaches us
Years into my search I came across the work of Thomas Hanna, who explored this relationship of body and emotions through the practice of Somatics which is essentially a ‘mindfulness meets body’ approach which retrains our patterns of muscular contraction. He named this body-stance the ‘posture of defeat’, mapping a particular configuration of neuro-muscular holding which leads to feelings of fear and apprehension arising .
I felt Hanna had nailed my way of being in the world:somewhat cautious with a tendency to check things out for fear that I would be overwhelmed. This was of course a typical ‘flight’ stress response whichkept me in a state of procrastination , ultimately postponing my engagement with life fully.
……….. But living this way was becoming very dissatisfying and painful for me …………..
The Key to Unlocking this Pattern
Coming across Hanna’s work I felt like I had been given the key which had the potential to unlock this patten of entrenched anxiety that stopped me from breathing fully and somehow held my upper arms like iron grips by my side, not quite immobile but with the feeling I was always holding myself back through an unconscious vague sense of anxiety. Studying Somatics it has been fascinating to explore these slow, neurosensory movements finding ways to soften and release the psychological patterns that underlie my tight shoulders and anxious mind.
Leaving behind this stance of Anxiety
It’s been an enlivening and hope-filled processas I feel a return to ease that was unknown to me before. And a real education as my nervous system relays to my brain better and better ways to move, think and feel in the world.
My body is starting to speak what feels like a different language as I feel the anxiety dissolving and an ability to face what’s before me more readily. It’s given me an inner strength that holds me more upright and eyesthe world through a different lens .
On a recent training, after a session, I found myself walking around the room without my usual protective stance, fluid in my movement, without effort, and I heard myself saying
‘It’s safer for me to stand upright with a relaxed belly because when I stand like this more of me is present and available’
Meaning that my inner knowing and strength which was inaccessible when my belly and gut was tight became alive and available when released and knows instinctively what to do in any situation
I felt like I had found my own inner compass, and just as Charlie Brown has found his best stance for depression, I had found my best stance for ease and wholeness.
My work with clients , which I call Untying the Knots, has become an exploration of how to find our own inner compass and essentially find our way back to our own‘best’ selves at home in our own skin.
I would love to hear from you if you are ready to find your own way of being at ease in the world!