Living on one side - Part 1
A lot of our life occurs in our thoughts – in the face and head area. Why do we find it difficult to fully live our physical existence in all four of our sides and the depth of our bodies, and how does that affect our posture and movement?
To find the answer to the question ‘why do our backs hurt?’ we need to look at the gap that exists between the unique potential each of us have and how we fulfill that potential.
Our bodies have four sides: front, back, right, and left (we also have a core and an exterior on which I will elaborate later). We can be present at each of the sides, but most of us are mainly present at the front side of the body. To be more precise, most of us exist mostly in the top front part – the head and the face. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that most of us tend to live life in our thoughts as opposed to in our bodies, which leads to the odd and sad conclusion that when we’re on ‘auto-pilot’ we don’t fulfill the potential of our physical existence – where we feel all our sides and depth – and we don’t know how it feels to meet ourselves in the physical existence.
We usually let life pull us out of our bodies. It happens to everyone without even being aware of it. Here’s an example: my head gets pulled towards the computer screen as I am writing this article.
It’s easy to notice the ‘forward pull’ in people who suffer from lower back pain. When looking at them from the side you can see that their back side around the lower back is pushed forward, which causes their center and their front (the belly) to be pushed forward.
Animal instincts and Japanese movement
So why are we pushed forward and stay that way, and live with discomfort and pain for our entire life?
The answer to this essential question is in the gap between the option we have to consciously choose to live in every part of our body, and the subconscious choice to push the lower back forward and bring the chest forward. This can’t and doesn’t happen in wild animals. The bad choice that we make is not available to animals (unless they’re injured). Their body is organized in the most optimal way for movement and it gets that way naturally and automatically. They can’t and don’t need to make a choice. Their physical organization is based on animal intelligence that also manages their posture and motion. This kind of intelligence also manages many systems in our bodies – the internal system, the blood system, and immune system, and more. So why do we choose to have "bad” organization in our bodies? If we didn’t have a choice and our animal elements managed our motion as well, then the lower back and the chest wouldn’t get pushed forward – we would be physically balanced and we wouldn’t have any chronic pressure on our muscles, vertebrae, and discs.
Animals are naturally within their bodies – in their entire bodies – but they are not consciously aware of their own existence like us humans are. They don’t have the part that recognizes and keeps in our awareness the fact that an option to be present in a balanced way in all sides of the body exists, and they can’t make the distinction between the presence within the core and the presence in the external parts of the body. Animals are made to operate in a functional way based on needs and automatic instincts. Humans do have elements that are similar to those of animals: First is genetics – we can see the effect of genetics with regards to external movement when looking at the similar movements of twins who grew up in different environments. Then there’s imitation – did you ever notice how the physical behavior in cultural groups is similar within the group and different between groups? An example is the difference between the way an African American person walks and a Japanese person walks. It’s not just the clothing that’s different, it’s also the way they conduct themselves and the way their bodies are organized.
Another critical difference between animals and humans is the body-mind connection. Wild animals have instinctual mechanisms that break this connection. They can leave traumas (like an injury they had) behind, and return to an optimal organization of their body almost immediately (this is different, however, with domesticated animals).
Identifying with people and broken imitation patterns
The body-mind connection has a strong influence on our posture. We can recognize based on posture whether someone is happy (the body’s open, hands open and to the sides, there’s a flow that pushes the person upwards), or whether he is sad and depressed (hunched over, torso collapsed inwards, shallow breathing, shoulders drooping down and forward, and the energy pulls downwards and inwards). These are extreme states, but the fact is that every thought or feeling manifests in our body. You could also flip it around to say that if there’s no manifestation in the body, then there’s no thoughts or feelings. Identifying emotionally – (for example, identifying with a father or mother figure) – is also a source of a set posture that doesn’t express the potential (which brings up the saying ‘like father like son’). When a child identifies with a parent, he is not even aware that he is holding on to an emotion about their parent within his muscles. He’s also not aware that he’s not letting go of this, which often times leads to a posture that’s similar to the parent’s. This pattern tells an observer that there is some sort of an unsolved emotional identifying that hasn’t been solved – an issue relating to the parent that the child isn’t letting go of.
So when we wonder why our bodies don’t function optimally like the bodies of animals, it’s because we have the option to exist everywhere in our body – to be present in all sides, and in the core and the exterior, but instead of choosing that, we are run by the imitation of bad patterns and we don’t have the information that can teach us posture and movement that create presence everywhere in our body. Add to that the influence the mind has on the body and you get pain and suffering. Our body is suffering because our mind is suffering, and the suffering in both comes from an unfulfilled potential. Understanding that this is what’s going on is creating in us new potential - a potential for a solution. The types of solutions for back pain are endless, but they usually provide an external and mechanic answer that reduces and soothes the pain. These solutions don’t come close to dealing and answering the essential question: why do I have backache? Why does it occur and what does it mean to be living in the entire body as opposed to only living in the front of it?
* In the next article I will address the recognition of the earth’s support as a first and vital step to treating backache.
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