The Bodywork Perspective – page 1


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Pre­lim­i­nary Focus — how YOU see YOU

Preliminaries

I’d like to sug­gest that you pair up with some­one to do this work.

I’d also like to sug­gest that you make use of a video cam­era and / or a dig­i­tal still cam­era. Have some­one take a pic­ture of you from the side, from the front and from the back. As you’ll notice from the pho­to below, I put duct tape on the floor, and use that as a “foot guide.” 

If you want to make this “eas­i­er to read,” wear some­thing form fit­ting — a bathing suit, a leo­tard, or wear noth­ing. Also have close ups tak­en of your neck / chest area, the small of your back and of the front, side and back of your head and neck. Use the video cam­era to film your­self walk­ing, both toward, away and across the camera.

None of this will be help­ful unless you stand and walk nor­mal­ly, as opposed to strik­ing a pose. Just relax and be your­self. If you slouch, slouch.

You might want to do what we did, and stitch the three pho­tos togeth­er, then apply a grid. Or, just use a ruler and mark­er to draw lines.

You’re look­ing for tilts, off-cen­tered­ness, and oth­er devi­a­tions from “neu­tral.” Over the next few pages, we’ll let you know what these things indicate.


The STRUCTURE of the BODY 

It’s ALL about Your STRUCTURE!

We’re now going to begin look­ing at the body from var­i­ous angles. As we go along, com­pare what you’re learn­ing to the pho­tographs you took of yourself.

tilt
Mus­cu­lar Tension

We’ll be con­tin­u­al­ly be refer­ring to neu­tral posi­tions for the body and its parts. A neu­tral posi­tion, from a mus­cu­lar per­spec­tive, needs lit­tle effort to main­tain, which is why I will encour­age you, as we go along, to exper­i­ment with each and every posi­tion described. Feel what mus­cles you have to tense and short­en, which mus­cles have to let go and stretch to assume the non-neu­tral positions.

Here’s the point: each unre­solved emo­tion­al or phys­i­cal trau­ma caus­es mus­cles to con­tract, and the oppos­ing mus­cles to stretch.

Human bod­ies are dynam­ic process­es. If you flex your biceps (go ahead!) and look in a mir­ror, you’ll see that the biceps con­tracts and the tri­ceps (the oppos­ing mus­cle, under the arm below the biceps) stretch­es and relax­es. If you extend and tight­en the tri­ceps, the biceps relax­es and stretches.

Dynamic.

Now, imag­ine flex­ing your biceps and leav­ing it flexed, for, say, a month or two. First of all, after a few min­utes, your arm would send pain sig­nals. Your arm might begin to spasm.

If you chose to ignore your pain, block it, and tune it out, even­tu­al­ly your biceps would shrink and your tri­ceps would stretch. They do so to try to reach sta­sis (a con­di­tion of bal­ance among var­i­ous forces; motion­less­ness) and to elim­i­nate the pain.

Were you then to straight­en your arm, (and this would not be easy!!!) your biceps would have to stretch, and your tri­ceps take up slack. Result? Pain.

Now, rec­og­nize that for every pos­ture that is not neu­tral, this is exact­ly the process that has tak­en place. Mus­cles have stretched; oth­ers have contracted.

As you try these posi­tions, and hold them, you’ll feel pain. You might then won­der at the abil­i­ty of a per­son for whom this posi­tion is “nor­mal” to block the pain they are feel­ing. Yet block it they do, at the price of not feel­ing much at all in the con­tract­ed area.

Chi, or ener­gy, has trou­ble flow­ing through a tight­ened mus­cle (or, from an acupunc­ture per­spec­tive, through a blocked acupunc­ture merid­i­an point.) This results in less and less of the life force mov­ing through the body.

released block

Con­verse­ly, when the block releas­es, the per­son feels a flood of blocked emo­tions, as well as a flood of mov­ing energy.


To sum­ma­rize: any posi­tion that is not neu­tral is main­tained through the con­trac­tion and stretch­ing of oppos­ing muscles.The result­ing pain is blocked and with the block­age comes an atten­dant loss of feel­ing in the Body­Mind­Spir­it. Each blocked sec­tion “lim­its” the move­ment of chi, or life force.

Chi flows freely.


Neu­tral Posture
neutral posture

We’ll begin by describ­ing neu­tral pos­ture. Every­thing we talk about from here on in, area by area, pos­ture by pos­ture, will be con­trast­ed to neu­tral.

Here’s what a body in neu­tral posi­tion “looks like.” 

  • The feet are flat on the ground.
  • The knees are slight­ly flexed, and are over the ankles. 
  • The pelvis is cen­tered (not tipped for­ward nor back) and is posi­tioned direct­ly over the knees.
  • The shoul­ders are over and square the pelvis. It’s lev­el from the front, and is cen­tered front to back. 
  • The head is over the shoul­ders, and tipped slight­ly up.

Prac­tic­ing the Neu­tral Posture 
practice board

To feel neu­tral pos­ture, back up against a wall.

  • Put your heels against the wall. Flex your knees a bit. 
  • Your butt is against the wall, just touching. 
  • The small of your back should be about an inch away from the wall; you should be able to stuff your hand in and feel a bit of resistance.
  • Your shoul­der blades touch the wall. 
  • The back of your head touch­es the wall.
  • Your eyes, focused on an oppo­site wall, should be look­ing a bit above horizontal.
  • Put the palms of your hands against the wall. 
  • Allow your fore­arms and elbows to touch the wall. Feel how your shoul­ders fall back, and your chest opens. This is now mil­i­tary pos­ture; the chest is slight­ly too open. (For peo­ple who have shoul­der issues — who have chests round­ed over the front, this is the correction.)
  • To fin­ish, let your hands come away from the wall, and cross at crotch lev­el. (Sort of like the Bud­dhist stand­ing med­i­ta­tion pos­ture.) You’ll feel your shoul­ders round for­ward, just slightly.
neutral

Hold the posture, and step away from the wall. Walk a bit.

Use the wall to practice. You’ll have to reset to this posture often.


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