I remember back in the seventies when the term ‘body language’ was coined. The experts claimed that communication was 7% verbal, 28% tone and 65% body language. I’m not saying these figures are exact – I’m not an expert – but they show what we are semiconsciously aware of, that we language with our bodies. What I am interested in is bringing this language, which may indeed be the majority of our communication, to full consciousness so that we can, so to speak, choose our words. Such expressions as "I can tell by the way she walks" bring to light the fact that we are giving and receiving information all the time, though perhaps not the information we would like. What messages are you giving out? Are you willing to take responsibility for what you attract through these advertisements? And wouldn’t life be more peaceful if certain people, places and things did not create such a strong reaction in us? Perhaps a deeper look is in order.
There are many types or amplitudes of movement and each communicates in a different way. Just as we might respond to the wave of a traffic cop, movements within the bodymind coordinate systems and maintain homeostasis. Take for instance the chewing of food, which stimulates the muscles in the temples, through which the gallbladder meridian travels. This tells the digestive system to release fluids, in this case bile, which in turn puts other processes into motion. In the same way, groups and societies send messages to one another, and I would imagine humanity describes itself to the cosmos. Movement is the universal language, whether we talk about cell biology or supernovas.
Enough theory; let’s be practical and use this knowledge to create understanding. A good way to start is to observe, and to observe not just others but yourself. Notice how postures change when surroundings, people and emotions shift. Imagine a romantic candlelit dinner for two and notice what happens to your body. Now imagine being called in to your supervisor’s office and again notice your body. You will quickly see that we are all just big reactions, sometimes trying to make the biggest, most visible wave, sometimes attempting stillness to be avoided. We are attracted mysteriously and repeatedly to the same situations and people and have seemingly little control. It is not hopeless though. Mastery of this language is possible.
One of my favorite laws of physics, which will be useful in our experiment, is that the observer affects the observed. This is counter to the reductionistic scientific paradigm upon which western medicine is based. As we observe and remember ourselves, we will gain, through our acceptance of our lack of control, a modicum of power over our situation. As the intensity of our observation increases, so also does the effect on our "language" and we gain understanding of the subconscious workings of the bodymind. Many strategies that have served us well in the past are soon abandoned for more effective, appropriate and efficient approaches.
If all this seems a daunting project to face alone, let me encourage you to seek support through a teacher and/or group. There are many approaches to gaining awareness of movement patterns. Choose one you are attracted to and commit to its practice. somaZen, like some other somatic therapies and bodywork modalities, is designed to facilitate this organic unfolding of the language of movement.
Since our culture is not adept at this type of communication, you will likely confront and work through societal taboos, and possibly glimpse a vision of living you never dreamed possible. You needn’t change jobs, relationships or any particular aspect of your routine. A change in attitude, often a profound one, accompanies a change in posture and gives a different appearance to your current reality. Possibilities for the future will become evident.
Just as a fish does not learn about water until it is out of the water, we do not see ourselves as slaves to our movement habits until we get a taste of freedom. I know that you will hunger for this experience, as I have, and I look forward to visiting with you as we continue to evolve in our understanding.