One day, while on a walk, my mind was turning over thoughts, like rocks being polished in a tumbler. Repetitious thoughts, creating a lot of noise in the head that distracted from being Present. They were kind of a downer, too.
Then, I realized I was looking down at the ground while all this thinking was going on.
So, instead of looking down, I raised my gaze skyward. The repetitive thoughts vanished and my mood lifted. I found that if I wanted to ‘think’ about something my gaze would return downward.
Raise your gaze, lift your spirit!
Looking up, instead of down, changed my state. It wasn’t only that the direction of my gaze changed, my body posture changed, too. When looking down my posture was bent over, somewhat hunched and collapsed; when I looked up, my head came up, and my posture straightened and expanded. This made all the difference.
Mind affects body, body affects mind. It’s a circle. Amy Cuddy gave a TED talk about this which has over 33 million views. Her Harvard study revealed that not only does body language affect how others see you, it affects how you see you. Many studies support this. And, of course, Tony Robbins has made a career out of teaching about body language affecting mental state, and thus the actions we take, or don’t take, in life.
Actors know exactly how to match body posture with mental state. Depressed? Hunch over, look down, sink into yourself. We look at how someone holds themselves and immediately draw conclusions about them.
I don’t think this comes as news to many of you, but how many of us are aware throughout our day of our posture, and similarly, our mindset?
Part of my daily practice is to to become conscious of how I’m holding my body, and to change it, if necessary. I’d like to hear from you about your own experience of how changing posture impacts your mental state.