What do slumped shoulders signify to you? A furrowed brow? Most of us are pretty adept at reading and understanding body language. For example, if you see someone standing stiffly, arms akimbo, foot tapping, you probably know this isn’t a good time to ask your boss for a raise.
Clearly, our bodies reflect our mental states. But did you ever think that the mind and body are really more like ONE entity than two? Think about it this way: if you are stressed and tired, sitting with your own shoulders slumped and brow furrowed, you will likely feel worse. The slumped shoulders will create muscle tension in your back too. But if sit up straight, take a deep breath, and let your shoulders relax, you will probably feel a little better.
The study of the relationship between mind and body is an old one. Practitioners have gathered observations about the shape of the body, the curve of the spine, even the lines on the forehead. Ken Dychtwald, author of “Bodymind,” explains the connection, saying, “I have discovered that (the) body and (the) mind are reflections of each other and that the emotions and experiences which have formed my personality have affected the formation and structuring of my muscles and tissue.”
Here’s one example of how our emotions and experiences are reflected in our physiology. Consider the top half of the body compared to the bottom. The top half of the body has to do with communicating, thinking, and expressing. The bottom half relates to our foundation, stability, and groundedness. If you were to compare the two halves of one person, what would the proportionality say?
Picture the cartoon character Yosemite Sam: giant head, barrel chest, teeny legs. Now, Yosemite Sam was always yelling and shooting off either his mouth or his six-shooter. He’s a perfect example of how the top half (expressing) is out of proportion to the bottom (stability). I don’t think anyone would ever accuse Sam of being stable.
If you are interested in learning more about what your feet or your forehead says about you, check out Dychtwald’s book. I also highly recommend “Reading the Body” by Wataru Ohashi. Now sit up straight!