Postures of Authenticity

In the Strozzi Somatics™ centering practice, we experience the dimensions of length, width and depth.  Each dimension has a physical component, but also a psychological one.  For instance, when we center in our length, we are working with how to feel more of the vertical space we occupy.  We can also sense how to allow ourselves to be held by the earth beneath us while also feeling literally uplifted.  We notice what we feel in this new “shape”.  The quality that goes along with feeling our length is dignity.  When we can more fully occupy the physical dimension of length within and without ourselves, our perception of both begins to shift.  

Centering can shift our state of consciousness before we sit down to write.  This reminds me of a writing workshop I led in Telluride. We had completed the centering practice then moved into a writing practice.  The room was alive with the sound of pens moving and bodies squirming, and when I asked what people were noticing, a woman spoke up.  

She said:  “Well, at first I noticed that I was all scrunched over my page, my body was curled in on itself, and I thought about how this is always how I sit when I write.  Then I remembered our centering practice and I unfurled myself and felt my length.  As I did this, what was remarkable was that I began to know what to write about.  Before I had been struggling; now my pen started to move across the page. What a delight!” 

I’ll never forget the expression on her face and the sense of something completely new in her experience of her creative self.  She knew what to write.  

Amy Cuddy, the social psychologist from Harvard Business School, has done some great research and a TED talk on the science behind taking certain body postures and the effect this has on our hormonal levels and experience.  She said: “Let your body tell you you’re powerful and deserving, and you become more present, enthusiastic and authentically yourself.”  She’s also found that even in a short period of time we can alter our testosterone and cortisol levels significantly by putting ourselves in an open pose.

But what does Amy Cuddy’s work have to do with your writing life?  Her research shows that our body responds to the posture we take. I think of the woman in Telluride and how she was able to write when she felt herself “in her length”.  She did not need to know that perhaps her stress hormones were less activated and her power hormones more so, although it is curious to consider this.  It seems that as we allow ourselves to take a more open posture or stance, and to feel ourselves as more open and alive, the more we are able to step into what it is we need to say.  This is real.

Oddly enough, there may be more to “sitting up straight” than we ever allowed ourselves!  But it’s not just that.  It’s also “being seated” in who we are and what we believe in.  This can certainly start with our bodies.  We can live and write from a place in ourselves that is more open, connected and powerful than we may have ever imagined.   

I have a client who finds that standing in her power posture is what she needs to practice every day to be able to feel her own strength and to feel that she can move in the world from that strength.  Through this consistent practice, she has gained much more capacity to speak up in situations where she feels something needs to be righted—she has a voice and a body that can do that now.  She is being authentic, real, solid and true.  

What brings you to authenticity?  What posture can you find of your own that allows you to feel what you are made of and what you want to bring forth into language?  How might you bring more authenticity into your voice, on the page or in your life?

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