“A good stance and posture reflect a proper state of mind.” – Morihei Ueshiba
“The quickest way to change your emotional state is to change your body.” – Tony Robbins
“The human body is the best picture of the human soul.” – Ludwig Wittgenstein
What if Cinderella, because of the abuse of the step sisters, walked about like a servant girl with her head down like a whipped dog? Then getting all dressed up and going to the ball wouldn’t have done much. On the other hand, if she had used her normal “cleaning,” and other work behaviors to train her posture and self-image, then she wouldn’t have needed a fairy god mother. Full disclosure, I am not your fairy god mother.
But the magic is there inside you, just waiting for you to access it. The relationship between self-image, what you can achieve, and posture is magical. You can say this to yourself anyway you want, you just have to believe it. And this isn’t difficult once you accept your self image to be a script for the part you play in life. So obviously we must look and act the part.
And lets think about that in terms of the movies we have talked about. Recall the heroes we have mentioned, and consider their posture, balance, and grace of movement. You don’t find any of them with an, “aw shucks,” type of presence. The bad guys, or the nothing characters, have a plain to worse posture. Many Hollywood types go to special classes for deep massage and alignment so that they can walk the walk.
If you have the opportunity to do this, make it happen. But you will find that you are faced with a deep internal resistance to change. This is because your self image is fighting to keep its “loser” posture. In other words self image will work to portray its character to the world. Everything we have been talking about, your posture, carriage, and movements are the actualization of your self image. You have a complete body memory that goes with the part you have been learning all your life. If your inner you, believes that role, then it will rebel against you moving through life with a confident posture. There will be a dissonance. But this can work the other way. If you have heroic, confident Ronin posture, and can maintain it with the right attitude, then your posture will change your mindset and your self-image.
And this will change your life. Part of the change will be that you will evoke different reactions from those around you. Let’s look at this like a play. You began this play, that is your life with one script, evidenced by your posture, and now suddenly you change scripts. Of course others will react differently. If you were a “loser,” before with subservient posture, and now you come to work for the guy who hired the loser, when he finds himself looking into the eyes of a hero it may disturb him. You might become an unemployed Ronin.
For example, imagine you have switched bodies with your avatar who is Captain America, so that now you and your self image are in his body, and he with his script is in yours. And it is an average day at work for both of you. Captain America’s friends will ask, “Is something wrong?” when you show up for hero work.
And how will it be on your job? What will the people who populate your daily life say when your body, with Captain America in it comes to work? Your posture would be aligned, your balance perfect, and you would be two inches taller. You would be relaxed, smiling, and your gaze honest and strong. Those who expect you to play out one type of role, would have to adjust to the new you.
When you switch back imagine you retain the Captain America posture and presence. This is difficult, but that is what this book is about. It is a training manual, and this is about a training exercise. In this exercise you are fighting your Home Position, your original script, just as Rocky was fighting Apollo Creed. Rocky became what he was, the man to go the fifteen rounds, and so will you.
We will alter our posture over a considerable period. It has taken me years. Part of my problem is a lack of flexibility, so that when I corrected one part, another was thrown out of alignment. I still work at it every day. As a martial artist posture and movement became much more critical to me. If you are any kind of athlete, these exercises should assist you. If you aren’t, then perhaps you soon will be.
This will take some time, but the payoff is tremendous. I mentioned repurposing everyday activities to advance along the Hero’s Journey. We are now going to repurpose showering. We will make this a powerful exercise.
•Look in the mirror, while you imagine that you are the avatar, but without the sword and armor. Try to straighten up. Look into the eyes of the hero you see in the mirror. Do this like your hero. Now close your eyes and remember how this feels so that you can bring it back when you need it. A few warnings. Some postures are ridiculous, and if you need much posture work, then there is the danger you might assume a comical pose. One is the shoulders thrown back in a posture somewhat resembling a vulture. Another is the posture of a teenager with new found pubic hairs. They have the false bravado and rigid upper bodies of the punk or want-to-be.
• When you are in the shower stand for a moment listening to the water strike your body. Without moving anything, see if you head is tilted, if your hips are forward, if you are slouched.
• Notice this for the length of three slow breaths, nothing forced or rushed.
• Now lift your head so that it is looking straight ahead. Hold for three slow breaths, and note how the water is striking your head in a slightly different place.
• Focus on your feet and note where your weight is. Forward over the balls of your feet, or back on your heels. Experiment with moving your weight from position to position. Then come to rest with the weight over the instep of your foot That is about in the middle of your foot. Have your head be right over the instep.
• Now your head is straight. Your weight is over the middle of your foot. Now pull yourself erect using only the muscles of your core, nothing in the shoulders. Most likely you are now two inches taller.
• And now for the killer move, squeeze your buttocks, like holding in a fart, so that your hips are in a line from your ears, through your shoulders, to the instep of your foot.
• And you are listening to the water strike your body. Try to remember how this feels. When you are alone in front of a mirror, check it out. How do you look when you catch your reflection in a window?
• *Squeeze your buttocks together just enough to align the hips with ear and instep. Now focus on a point exactly in the middle of that squeeze. When you walk [not in the shower] feel that you are being pulled from this point.
• When you are dressed and outside try walking. You should be completely relaxed. The posture should be like blocks piled up, not something tied together with shock cord that is stretched and straining, and you should be moving almost effortlessly.
• Now for some advanced work. Above I asked you to tighten your ass muscles, squeeze them together as if you were straightening out the curvature of your spine. Now relax that effort till you have just enough tension to take out 1/32 of an inch of curvature. This should feel like a game changer, but we are really going to go for it now. Most people walk with their legs only and their hips are dead. Now, with that slight tension in your buttocks rotate one hip forward, and then the other. It will seem as though you are walking entirely from a different center. This is the way you were made to walk.
1. Sometime, in a meeting at work, or a social gathering, note your posture.
2. Purposely sink down in your chair, and slide your ass slightly forward. Now relax for a few moments.
3. Did you feel lower in status and power? Try and feel how your posture affects you emotional state.
4 Do all of the above with your standing posture.
5. When you are with someone of high status, for whatever reason, is your vertical posture any less? Do you slouch?
6. Play with your posture. In social situations move from perfect alignment to slouching wimp, then back again.