The next day morning was cheerful. We all were enjoying the unique experience of the overnight retreat. We began the day by revising the practice of yesterday – the Experience of Peace. It was a wonderful way to start the day.
We had some unique activities – standing, siting, lying down and noting about our posture. Walking around and noting the posture. Repeating it several times.
It was unusual. In our meetings we had discussions, guided experience but for the first time I encountered activities involving movement of body and observing our posture. What was the point?
“We are going to discuss about Psycho-Physical Gymnastics – a unique system of self-control to re-establish the balance between our mind and body. With this technique you will learn to control yourself better in daily life.”
The introduction sounded exciting and the activities of noting the posture intriguing. What is the link? I knew something important will be coming next.
“Health and strength in the truest sense require balance – an equilibrium. Nothing works better to achieve this balance than to exercise both your mind and body at the same time”
“The mind and body have mutual relationship. If you have ever noticed the difference between the posture of someone who is depressed and someone who is happy, you will easily grasp the relationship. An anxious mind is related to posture of body leaning forward and a leisurely mental state is related to the posture of body reclining backward.”
I could easily verify and relate with the same.
It was suggested that I stand as I normally do and imagine a vertical line passing through my head and body to the ground. Using this line as a reference, I had to notice whether my head was badly positioned, whether my chest was sunken, my stomach was out of line, or if I held my lower stomach in and thus push the buttocks out of line. I was asked not to try to change any incorrect positions; but simply keep them in mind and remember all the details. Then, I was asked to draw a sketch of my body in my notebook just as I remembered it, both the side view and the front view. I had to mark any incorrectly positioned points and see what I need to correct.
Next I was asked to stand up and start to correct the posture. I noticed that it wasn’t easy.
“What is important to know, is that while the mental state leads to a certain body posture, we can make it work other way – that is change the mental state by changing the body posture”.
Psycho is mind and physical is body. The aim is to learn about the relation between the two and how they affect each other. While it will be difficult for us to control our mind directly, we can change our body posture and with that affect our mental state.
When you are attentive the posture is straight and erect. So, by straightening my posture I can improve my attentiveness.
Once I tried the straight posture, soon my body started to ache. How do I deal with that?
“You have cultivated a habit over the years to be in the wrong posture. Obviously if you are going to change it, in the beginning it will be uncomfortable. Do not go to the extreme. Pay attention to the posture and improve it whenever you can. Slowly increase the duration of the correct posture until it becomes a new habit.”
Such a simple thing like body posture can affect the mind so much. I could remember that in the childhood my mother used to scold me for sitting in twisted posture and insisted on my sitting straight. Now I realised the importance of the posture.
Posture was the first part of the study of Psycho-Physical Gymnastics. More was to follow. I was anxious to learn more on the subject. In the meantime, I was advancing on my journey to become better person.