It is agreed that you are reflected in your body shape — encompassing of your personality, and character. Your body language, posture, and poise, including the way you walk, or move, are also quite unique to you. Here’s how and why they happen.
Your friends, family, and others, know you by your face. Your face is also what makes people recognize you. But, ask them to recognize you on a dark night, with just a glimpse of your shadow on a wall, they won’t be able to.
To highlight one example — muscle tone. Muscle tone is what that gives your arm, for instance, firmness. Imagine what would happen to your arm when it does not have tone. It becomes drooping and flaccid.
Muscle tone is expressed when your muscle fibers contract. When you are alert, and energetic, your body will show an overall muscle tone — you are firm and not too rigid. However, when you are anxious, some of the muscle fibers tend to become all the more rigid. Your muscles now feel tense. You will also wonder what’s going on in your mind.
The tightened response demonstrates a typical mind/body interaction. Your tension also mirrors your intention. It also suggests intent — irrespective of your awareness of the moment, or otherwise.
You can, to think of another example, also relate to a job at hand you would like to finish quickly. You, again, have an intention, and intent. When you work on the job for too long, or are not able to complete it as quickly, you experience discomfort in your already tightened muscles.
We should, however, remember that these episodes are momentary — they come and go, everyday. They are, in other words, habitual, and, most often than not, leave no impact on our body.
Think also of a common occurrence. Bosses are often prone to criticize far too much than required. The criticism is almost always subtle, not open. This reminds you of your parents — most often, your father. Flashback: when your father scolded you, by way of a reflex mechanism, you often pulled your head down, and lifted your shoulder — as a protective mechanism. When you got into your teens you somehow stopped doing this — thinking it made you look vulnerable. You did not allow your shoulders to move, but you still felt rigid.
Flash-forward: as your boss fires yet another verbal salvo in your direction, you again become rigid. Those muscular fibers tighten anew. This may not be obvious. But, the fact is — you allow your shoulders to creep up, and shorten your neck. Now, your body creates a characteristic sense of defensive mechanism.
These are, of course, essentially mind/mind mechanisms that re-establish our customary shape — once we are back to normal.
There are two factors that act to bring our body back to shape. The first, needless to say, is mental. This is related to defensive thoughts that run through your mind during the course of the day. It is not that you cannot change your thoughts with good effect. You sure can — through insight and by resolving emotional issues, which form the second component.
Just try to remember how your shoulder snapped back to its original shape as if pulled by an elastic band after you got over a tight situation. The elastic band that pulled you back to shape was none other than the complex connective tissue sheath encircling the muscles. In medical terminology, they are called as fascia. When you pop back and forth — from being tense to a state of relaxation — the fascia propagate classical mind/body habits.
The most interesting, or complex, aspect of all the muscles in the body is their existence in facial envelopes. Even the tiniest of muscles have their own facial box. Interconnectedness of the fascia is another important component — you may think of them as a honeycomb of sheaths. The facial envelopes are flexible; however, they can only be extended to a certain point. When pulled, they get back to their original shape just as effectively. They have two major functions — they allow movement, and they provide stability.
One foremost plan that works in modifying facial expansion is postural habit. You need to sustain your postural habits correctly. This can be achieved by means of the unconscious mind which controls and limits your range of choices, or options. You would, of course, do well to remember that the mind has established its territory — beyond which you may not be allowed to move. However this maybe, a certain pattern of habits is allowed.
Wait a minute. Interestingly, when you try to move out of that pattern, you are held back by the facial network. You may have experienced this feeling. This is what that prevents you from going off the cuff!
One should also remember that it is we that create the internal facial dynamics to hold on to the feeling of security of what we have always known. This, we often think, provides us the means to not do something out of the hat. This also explains why most of us have developed ourselves into very rigid containers. This limits our range of choices and also hampers our quality of life.
Here’s what you can do to turn the tide in your favor:
- Yoga is one great way of freeing yourself from your self-created facial trap. When you practice yoga you move farther, bit by bit, each time into a position which helps you to stretch your facial planes and expand the range of physical positions. When you get into regular practice, you find yourself walking differently and also moving more freely. In other words, yogic exercises expand your range of mental and emotional spheres or spaces.
- Meditation is another well-established practice that helps you flex your mind into new places of consciousness. The practice can also take you into parts of the field of consciousness you may not have entered earlier.
- Physical exercises such as aerobics are just as helpful as handy methods such as Bodywork and Rolfing. The two techniques are concerned with body alignment. They use gravity to help us in our movements. In so doing, they help us relieve tensions stored in the fascia — or, connective tissues. They are, of course, best taught by a practitioner.