Thursday, September 20, 2012

Physical, Mental, Emotional, & Spiritual - Are they they same? How do they relate to posture?

With Autumn arriving in two days, I'm officially closing my summer series, "Sleeping on Sandwiches" and looking ahead to how this blog will evolve.  I began The Posture Police as an exploration of the concept of posture.  What do people think posture is?  What does it mean to have good posture?  Is it just about how you stand and sit or is it something deeper and relevant to everything we do and how we approach life?  

A common theme among my posts in this recent summer series is the concept of "attitude".  An attitude can be physical, emotional, and mental and these three parts of ourselves are not so much parts, but instead ways that we divide ideas that we have about ourselves that may in fact distance us from understanding ourselves as unified, whole, beings.  People talk about exercised their bodies and minds separately, feeling emotions, and nurturing their spirits.  These terms can be useful, but they are labels that we create to describe perspectives of essentially the same thing.

Here's an example.  Let's take multiple looks at this one activity:

I go for a run every morning.

Here's what the person who runs every day might say about the experience:

It feel energized.
I feel more alert and focused
I  feel calm for the rest of the day and free from anxiety and worry.
I feel connected to the universe.

The four comments above could be described as physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual respectively and they are all talking about the same activity.  The common thread is that each comment about the experience of running is just that, an experience, a feeling.  Regardless of how each feeling could be categorized, each one is nonetheless a feeling, a felt, physical experience.  Based on those felt experiences every morning, the person moves through the rest of the day with an attitude that is informed by the feelings that they derive from running.  They'd likely approach the day with a different attitude if they sluggishly crawled out of bed and downed a cup of coffee or spent the morning stuck in traffic.

Here's a different activity that might at first glance be considered less physical than the previous on.  Instead of calling it "more mental" or "less "physical", let's call it "less athletic".

I sit at a desk for eight hours per day looking at a computer screen.

I feel slumped.
I feel in a fog.
I feel stressed and anxious.
I feel disconnected from the world.

Again, the descriptions of this activity area all felt, physical experience that could be categorized as physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.  Though moving much less compared to when running, a person's body is just as present when sitting and just as (or perhaps more) susceptible to injury (like lower back pain).  

These two examples demonstrate that we divide ourselves when we call certain activities "physical" and certain activities "mental".  The same could be said for "emotional" and "spiritual".  Within activities, we then divide our experiences of them into different categories, thus furthering this notion of dividing ourselves.

Circling back around to the word "attitude".  Our attitudes are reflected in our emotions, our reactions, and how we react to perhaps the most constant stimulus around . . . gravity . . . and how we react to gravity is how we hold ourselves, how we sit and how we stand, which is often called posture.  One way to think about posture is your general attitude in life and how you react with that attitude to gravity, a force that pulls down.  The design of our bodies should counteract gravity in a way that leads us to feel springy, but many of us work against ourselves and give into gravity instead of working with it.  

What is your postural attitude?  Does it change?  Are you generally allowing yourself to spring up or are you pulling yourself down?

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