Expanded Perception is the Key to Improving Posture
My 2006 book, The New Rules of Posture: How to Sit, Stand and Move in the Modern World, was concerned with communicating the idea that posture is not a matter of positioning the body properly—not “stacking it up.” The reason Rolfing® and other Structural Integration methods are so impactful is that they help people experience their bodies in new ways. They perceive their bodies and themselves in the world differently—generally with more confidence, centeredness and ease. Expanded perception is the key to success at improving posture by any method—perception of sensations within the body and perception of the spatial environment surrounding the whole being.
How You Use Your Eyes
(Excerpted from Your Body Mandala, Chapter Three.) Being aware of the space around your body engages your peripheral vision. Having a broad visual field is essential to the perception of being supported by the ground. The contemporary workplace, where our eyes are trained on screens for many hours, skews the natural balance between peripheral and foveal vision (sharp, central focus responsible for details). This has a profound impact on our bodies.
Studies have shown that when we spend excessive time with our eyes in tight focus (an eight-hour day is surely excessive), the balancing mechanism of the inner ear becomes compromised. No longer certain of our relationship to gravity, we are apt to feel less secure. In preparation for the fall we subliminally expect, our spines curl, our trunks compress and our heads thrust forward. We may walk with shortened or shuffling steps. While this is the picture of an elderly person, the pattern is increasingly apparent among younger people. .
For anyone who works at a computer, attending to how we use our eyes has become a rather urgent matter. Narrowing our focus to gaze at screens constricts and immobilizes our bodies. It constrains the way we perceive the world and how we express ourselves.
I often suggest that my clients take “vision breaks” throughout the day. A period of intense concentration can become a signal that such a break is needed. You have to make yourself disengage from whatever has entrained your attention—that’s the hardest part. Then engage your peripheral vision—become aware of shapes and colors to the sides and above your body. Look into the far distance too (if you’re stuck in a cubicle, it will do you good to imagine the far distance). You’ll feel your eyes soften, and your neck decompress. You might even discover a new perspective on whatever you were looking at before.
© 2018 Mary Bond