The Bodywork Perspective – Body Parts

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The Body, Zones and Parts

We have had an overview of the whole body, and looked at the rudiments of the life story the body as a whole tells. Now, we begin a part by part, zone by zone exploration. 

You’ll like­ly see that you have an intu­itive sense about what a par­tic­u­lar pos­ture “could” mean. Many of the mean­ings are con­tained in body relat­ed clichés and expres­sions, like “I have to get this off of my chest,” or “I’m hav­ing trou­ble stom­ach­ing this.” 

Let’s begin from the top, and work down.

The Head — Neck Zone

Here’s a video about the head, jaw and neck

Head, jaw and neck

The head has three major positions, which I’ll describe as neutral, forehead out, and jaw out.

We all tilt our heads at some point. In Body­work, we want to dis­cov­er the nor­mal rest­ing posi­tion of the head (or any oth­er part we talk about.)

In other words, what position is the part usually in?

Neu­tral Head Position
neutral head

Neu­tral Head Posi­tion is straight and almost lev­el; per­haps “up” 1 or 2 degrees.

The neu­tral posi­tion leans a smidgen in the direc­tion of self con­fi­dence with­out arrogance.

There is a clear bal­ance and flu­id­i­ty to the head—the head seems to be light­ly attached to the neck, and moves freely in all directions. 

Fore­head out, eyes slight­ly downcast
eyes down

In the sec­tion on “body tilt,” above, we talked about the head being thrust for­ward by the body — sort of a head bash­ing, full speed head posi­tion. This tilt starts at the low­er body — the whole body is tilt­ed forward.

Fore­head out, on the oth­er hand, is a func­tion of the neck alone. The chin is tucked in, forc­ing the fore­head out. The rest of the body might be neutral. 

This is a posi­tion of infe­ri­or­i­ty or shame. To look at some­one in front of you from this posi­tion, you have to roll your eyes up, which is a plead­ing expression.

As you try this posi­tion, you almost feel your lip want to quiver involuntarily.

It’s the posi­tion of some­one who does not val­ue him/herself. It also can express extreme shy­ness and the wish not to occu­py too much space.

We often describe peo­ple in this pos­ture as being “down­cast” — mean­ing sad, depressed, for­lorn. This expres­sion comes from the low­ered posi­tion of the eyes when we tip our head down.

Jaw Out
chin out

Jaw Out — I’m flash­ing on Dud­ley Do-right — with the huge jaw point­ing for­ward. The neck is again respon­si­ble for this posi­tion, pulling back and caus­ing the head to tip upward. The per­son seems to be point­ing with their chin. To see a per­son stand­ing in front of them, they have to “look down” on them.

This is a posi­tion of arro­gance, and self-right­eous­ness. Oth­ers are seen as infe­ri­or or as being in need of help. This per­son is will­ing to “take it on the chin” — to mix it up, to fight for their right to be arro­gant and superior.

We describe peo­ple as “look­ing down their nose” at some­one — again, this is about the eye posi­tion, but the posi­tion is the result of the tip of the head.

Worth Noting

If there is a “tilt” to the left or right, it like­ly is not “fixed.” The per­son may have a pro­cliv­i­ty to “tilt” the head, (and this is worth notic­ing in pass­ing, as left/right tilts are indica­tive of chi balance/imbalance)
but pro­cliv­i­ty dif­fers from rigid­i­ty.

The neck zone 
Tight neck… and jaw!
The neck is either “nor­mal” or tight.

A nor­mal neck allows for the easy move­ment of the head. 

A tight neck… restrict­ed movement.

A tight neck also might be said to be “obstruct­ing the free flow of ener­gy from the body.” This means a decid­ed lack of knowl­edge or under­stand­ing re. what the body is feel­ing.


The mirror of the Soul. Well, maybe.

Neu­tral eyes
neutral eyes

Neu­tral eyes are sim­ply open. If you squint or go wide-eyed, notice how many mus­cles you have to use to main­tain it. Neu­tral hap­pens with­out effort.

It’s impor­tant to be aware of the “look” of the area around the eyes. Look for relaxed skin, and light­ness to the eye lids. 

Wide Eyes
wide eyes

Wide eyes — the per­son looks like Bam­bi. I describe the look as “a deer caught in the head­lights of an onrush­ing truck.” 

Such eyes let too much in, and the per­son is over­whelmed. Wide-eyed won­der applies here. 

This per­son has seen her­self get run over before, and sim­ply can’t believe it’s about to hap­pen again. But it always turns out that way. 

The eyes, then, are con­stant­ly locked wide open, vul­ner­a­ble. Hypnotized.

Squin­ty Eyes
squinty eyes

Squin­ty eyes are non-trust­ing eyes.

If the way one lives one’s life could be pic­tured as enter­ing through the eyes, hav­ing the eyes par­tial­ly closed indi­cates great caution—the per­son fears let­ting too much in.

Such a per­son is painful­ly aware of past attacks; has let peo­ple in in the past, and is now very, very afraid.

Neu­tral Jaw
neutral jaw

Neu­tral jaw — the jaw is loose, and the teeth are not clenched. There is side-to-side flex­i­bil­i­ty (you can eas­i­ly “rock” the jaw from side to side.) The is a dis­cernible soft­ness to the jaw line.

The neu­tral jaw is eas­i­ly opened, and mas­sag­ing the jaw points (marked in pur­ple on the pic­ture) is only a lit­tle painful.

Anoth­er way to check the jaw sta­tus is to slide your fin­gers along the edge of the jaw (marked in lime) — the thumbs along the bot­tom edge and the index fin­ger along the edge. Again, there should be lit­tle or no pain. 

Rigid Jaw

Rigid Jawmany peo­ple have been taught “If you can’t say some­thing nice, don’t say any­thing.” What this real­ly meant was, “Don’t say things I don’t want you to say.” So, most of us learned to sti­fle com­ments by “bit­ing back our words.”

We also learned to tight­en the jaw to repress our feel­ings and our pas­sions. (My favourite illus­tra­tion is the cou­ple hav­ing sex, but being qui­et so as not to “dis­turb the children.”)

Do this for long enough, and the jaw mus­cles lock up and become painful to the touch — some­times extreme­ly so. The pain is the result of “bit­ing off” their words — not speak­ing their minds. The unspo­ken words are, in a sense, trapped in the jaw muscles. 

In a rigid jaw, the teeth seem locked togeth­er. In the kind of breath­ing we teach, the mouth should be open far enough to insert two or three fin­gers, one on top of the oth­er. Many peo­ple can’t (won’t) open their mouths that far.

If they do, sound comes out on the out breath, and they get “uptight.”


So, test your­self, and see if you can eas­i­ly open your mouth. With­out discomfort.

Try insert­ing 2, then 3 fin­gers, stacked atop one another. 

Next, mas­sage the jaw joint firm­ly. You should be able to apply inward pres­sure to the jaw hinge mus­cles with only mild dis­com­fort. Most peo­ple “light up” from the pain they feel in the jaw mus­cle. If you do, spend a few min­utes a day mas­sag­ing the jaw hinge muscles.

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