Sandra Blakeslee’s book, The Body Has A Mind of Its Own, explains the neuroscience of brain mapping—the way your brain is organized to run your body. Brain maps for sensation and movement, interwoven like figures in an intricate mandala, make is possible for you to scratch your nose when it itches instead of poking yourself in the eye. A startling finding reported in the book is that the space around our bodies--called peripersonal space--is mapped within our brains as precisely as any of our physical parts. Every point in the space within your arms’ reach is as intimately known by your brain as every cell in your liver.
This information supports what I presented in my book, The New Rules of Posture, and developed further in my DVD, Heal Your Posture, that spatial perception is a major component of healthy posture.
When you sustain a mild awareness of the space around your body, especially to the sides and back where we usually pay no attention, your body feels different—bigger, more dimensional, more present. The perception of space even seems to decompress joints, so posture becomes more lifted and movement becomes more fluid. You might feel that in a mysterious way, the space around you is supportive.
Here’s a simple way to get more space into your daily life. I got the idea while walking along the tree-lined street you see in the photo. As I contemplated the places where the tree limbs diverged, I found myself imagining that the trees could experience those "negative spaces" as sensation in their bark. I’ve been playing with this idea for a few months, and find it easy to remember and summon. It involves incorporating your body’s negative spaces into your body awareness. Consider the webbing between your fingers: if you have a feather or a silky scarf, use it to sensitize the skin there--it's rich in sensory nerve endings. Then be aware of your webbing spaces with your hands on a steering wheel, or while sorting laundry. Other sensitive spaces in your body include the webbing between your toes, the spaces behind your ears, and across the roof of your mouth. I’m practicing sensing my negative spaces right now, as I write. A worthwhile release takes place in my body--you'll have to try it to find out where. I hope to hear from you about what you discover.