The Posture Police Blotter was on hiatus for awhile and I've revived it with a daily blog that is running from June 20 through September 22. This daily edition has a different focus to it and the gem in all of this is that what I'm going to be writing and what I've written about posture and the Alexander Technique are all related. Follow along and learn how!
I notice that I can easily get stuck in a pattern on holding back how I'm feeling at sometimes and reacting strongly at other times. I engage in this flip-flop pattern almost exclusively with my partner. I have done similarly in past relationships. I'm sure that it's common that people tend to have the most trouble remaining level-headed in relationships with the highest emotional stakes.
When I moved out of my parents' home and began college in 1997, one thing that I learned about myself is that I could get angry. Anger and feelings of rage began popping up now and again and I realized that I hadn't had much experience expressing anger growing up. When I let it out, it seemed out of control. The anger could relate to social situations or to being cat-called on the street. I felt insecure and intimidated by life and overwhelmed by my feelings.
Fast-forward seven years to when I began to train as an Alexander Technique teacher. As long-held tension began to let go, feelings of anger popped up again for awhile and eventually subsided and I started feeling much more grounded. I didn't feel so upset abou cat calls and actually started getting fewer of them. I think that groundedness demonstrates confidence and that reads as a person who wouldn't react to being picked on. I also noticed that I stopped reacting with panic and fear if someone else was getting worked up about something. I previously tended take strong reactions directed at me very personally. I learned to take a step back and receive the person without letting myself get whipped up in their frenzy. Lately people have described me as a good listener, level-headed, and able to manage conflict.
At home it's a different story and I'm prone to panic, say something sarcastic, or withdraw from an emotionally charged situation. My partner has also commented that it seems to him like I'm swatting away my unpleasant feelings like shooing a fly. I agree with this observation. It's like I'm frantically grasping for things that will stop the "bad" feelings. It's somewhat comic in the sense that I may as well have a bag of random objects - let's say a bowling pin, a cotton ball, and a bag of flour - that I'm desparately pulling out to ask for help to no avail. I see my five year-old daughter often in a similar struggle of trying to swat away what's going on instead of dealing with it constructively. I find it very challenging to witness, yet I understand.
What are feelings? People ofen talk about feelings as separate from their physical experiences. Emotions aren't disebodied concepts. They are our physical experience. What you feel is what you feel in your body. Some feelings feel wonderful. Others feel uncomfortable or painful. They actually hurt. The highest concentration of nerve endings in the body is in the solar plexus (in the belly just below the sternum) and where the feeling of having "butterflies in your stomach" comes from. It's a key area to pay attention to when you experience strong emotion. How does it feel? Does it stay open to the feelings or does the area tighten up and close them out?
Posture is commonly thought of as the physical way one holds oneself - that it's a mechanical process having to do with holding yourself up and not slouching. How we hold ourselves is a relection of how we react to stimuli around us. How we hold ourselves up reflects and affects how we feel. Poor posture may lead to back pain. Truely improving the poor posture isn't a mechanical endeavor, it's psychophysical and involves changing habits and changing those habits can mean changing reactions to stressful situations and truely feeling and embodying emotions.
As I work on changing my reactions and feeling my emotions at home, I feel anxious about how vulnerable it feels and the emotions I feel aren't always pleasant, but I'm breathing more deeply, am able to release my neck and shoulders more, and feel more content spending time with my family in a more authentic way.