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What Are You Telling the World?
By Kare Anderson   Printer Friendly Version

How do others perceive you? How soon do you realize that you are getting tense? How well do you anticipate their unspoken feelings? Your ability to understand these signals has an enormous impact on how well you get along with others.

The secret is all in understanding a code. It is a most elaborate code that is written nowhere, known by none and yet understood by all.

Tour Your Body for Vital Signs
Your body is a hologram of your being; a three-dimensional movie that is constantly on, showing others how you feel about yourself and the world.
As you walk through life, is your body saying what your words are saying?Your body is a three-dimensional “full motion” billboard you are constantly showing the rest of the world. Even if people are consciously reading your body language, they will subconsciously react to your bodily signals.

For example, if you are literally uptight, that is rigid in any part of your body, especially your face, where most people focus most of their attention in conversation, people will instinctively resist or react against you and your comments. This phenomena is akin to bounding a hard rubber ball on a concrete surface and then on a soft carpet. The ball will bounce higher and faster against the hard surface than the soft one of course, just as other react against your “hardened surface.” Suggestion: Whenever you are entering a potentially volatile or even new situation, loosen up physically. Walk, stretch, and work on the areas you tend to hold most of your tension.

For example, if you are like many conscientious, hard-working people, you probably hold your shoulders higher and slightly more forward than is natural and one of the tendons in your neck has tightened up even more than the other. If someone will give you a quick ten or fifteen minute shoulder and neck massage, you will enter the situation more relaxed and others will respond more softly to you.

It’s time to get to know your body. If you don’t know where you hold your tension, and most people don’t, take a tour of your body, so you can know what needs the most loosening - -and exercise. Are you shouldering the world’s responsibilities, or perpetually drooping? Or, in your determined drive toward success, do you plant your feet solidly on the ground in a life gesture of hostility, defiance or taking ground? Perhaps you have a forward-leaning posture, with the head tilted slightly forward, as if yo are ready to spring into action, expressing a lifelong pattern of flight away from psychologically threatening situations, when you thought it was part of your make-up to leap forward to new opportunities.

To be depressed is, in fact, to press against yourself. To be closed off is to hold your muscles rigid against the world. Being open is being soft. No instinctive muscle clenching, such as in the jaws, a growing pattern in Americans, even into their sleep. Hardness is being uptight, cold, separate, giving yourself and others a hard time. Softness is synonymous with pleasure, warmth, flowing, being alive, drawing other people toward you rather than pushing them away.

Are you itching to get at someone? Is your colleague a pain I the neck? Are you sore about something? What is your aching back trying to tell you? Is there someone or thing on your back? What about your ulcer, allergy, muscle spasms? Is there someone you cannot stomach? What is it that you would like to get off your chest, or your back? Your body speaks to you all the time, telling you what your own needs are. Listen there. It is your free and most sophisticated medical feedback testing system. It is constantly showing you your inner tensions, state of mind and habitual life attitudes.

When you are misaligned and tense, you expend outrageous sums of energy doing the everyday gestures of life. Since the body is a high viscosity substance, that is 60 percent to 80 percent water, the bondes are floating in a relatively fluid environment. Yet, over time, despite that apparent fluidity, you have tightened the muscles around every major experience of pain, fear or anger, and continue to tighten them each time you think you are experiencing similar situations, thus guaranteeing that you make your own pattern of uptightness familiar and increasingly habitual, until it becomes a permanent condition you no longer recognize as not normal.

We all hold great muscle tension around certain bones in blind remembrance of fearful events, long after the actual events are often long forgotten. You may never recall what initially made you afraid, but you can note where you body reacted to protect itself and spend more time in your exercise and massage or other body work to relax and loosen those muscle groups.

In Western society, we usually hold the tension somewhere in our upper body whereas in many Eastern cultures the tension tends to be held in the lower body.

If you don’t begin a regular practice of exercise and stretching, you are guaranteed to lose mobility sooner as you age and rob yourself of the most positive and alive personal presence you could offer the world every day.

We go through life making decisions, closing down and limiting ourselves unconsciously. Stay open literally by getting in motion more frequently. Stand and stretch at least every twenty minutes when you are sitting and working. Try to walk, hopefully in sync with someone else, in fresh air and sunlight, at least thirty minutes a day. As Dr. Dean Ornish wrote in his most recent book, Love and Survival:The Scientific Basis for the Healing Power of Intimacy, “”our survival depends on the healing power of love.

One of the safest and most natural ways to move closer to others is to walk with them. Walk further to the restaurant. Walk and talk on the way to the meeting. Walk with your loved one, rather than sitting at home, to come down from your day, and come together. Motion is emotional and makes every event more vivid and memorable. Literally move towards the one you want in your life and loosen up together. Your life may depend on it. In fact, why not get up right now and take a stretch, look around, call someone and suggest a walk.

Want to learn more about the importance of cultivating intimate relationships to keep healthy? Consider reading, in addition to Ornish’s book:

Cortis, Bruno, Heart and Soul, Villard Books, 1995

Dossey, Larry, Healing Words, HarperCollins, 1993

Goleman, Danile. Emotional Intelligence. Bantam Books, 1995

Keen, Sam. To Love and Be Loved. Bantam Books, 1997.

Lynch, James J. The Broken Heart. Basic Books, 1977.

Pert, Candace. Molecules of Emotion: Why We Feel the Way We Feel. Scribner Books/Simon & Schuster, 1997.

Remen, Rachel Naomi. Kitchen Table Wisdom, Riverhead Books, 1996.

Scarf, Maggie. Intimate Partners. Ballantine Books, 1987.

Weil, Andrew. Spontaneous Healing. Knopf, 1995.

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