Posture, Perception and Presence

A book a decade...

Last July I said to myself: okay, I’ve written two books, so I should be able to knock off another one.

Well, not so much!

Since I’m not prolific—one every 10 years is all I can manage—it was easy to forget how stressful writing a book can be. I’m organizing the new book in a non-linear way, so I keep reviewing and revising--I want to hold it all in my mind and not repeat myself.  This takes time and patience. Despite my efforts to stay present with the process, I experience surges of fear that I’ll never see the last page.

It's stressful.

Recently I’ve been waking up with uncharacteristic pain in my elbows. I must be clutching my arms to my chest while I’m sleeping, dreaming my fear perhaps.

One morning, during a walk in my neighborhood, I notice that my left elbow is considerably stiffer than the right--even my fingers are stiff, and my left arm barely swings. Somewhat demoralized by this (after all, I teach movement!), I resist the impulse to shake or stretch my arm. Instead I leave it that way--stiff. I let my arm dangle as if it were a prosthesis. What can I sense about this? Is there something to learn from it?

defensive expression
defensive expression

Why not just fix it?

You might ask why I don’t so some of the stretches I’ve shared in my YouTube archives, or ask another bodyworker to release the fascia around my glenohumeral joint. I have, of course, and both have helped keep the fascia fluid. But the underlying habit is not muscular or fascial, it’s expressive. It’s my physical manifestation of defense. And my shoulder is only the tip of the berg. Deeper is the tendency to withhold my body’s weight from the ground—an attempt to fly?

Thankfully, I've learned to go within and yield , learned that I need to restore my trust in gravity, over and over again. Once I can recall the sensation of weight in my ankles  and in my pelvic rami, my ballast is restored. I feel safe enough to let go of the attempt to stabilize myself with my left shoulder. I can distinguish the separate weights of my hand and forearm, humerus and scapula. I can relax my jaw. I can exhale completely. I can stop identifying with my shoulder tension. I can become whole. Again.

happy writer
happy writer

By the end of the walk, my left arm is once again as long as my right, my fingertips brushing the same place on my left outer thigh as on the right side. Having found the ground helps me to be present, and makes the prospect of the day’s writing session far less intimidating.