Years back I came across this cartoon clip of Charlie Brown exploring how to use his body stance to feel his ‘best’depression.
It struck me as funny, true and poignant at the time as it spoke to what I had noticed in my own body and
recognized as a familiar pattern of holding that led to me feeling anxious and depressed.
Years later I came across the work of Thomas Hanna, who explored this relationship even further in his work
through a neurosensory
re-education process and named this the ‘posture of defeat’, mapping a particular configuration of
neuro-muscular holding which leads to feelings of fear and apprehension:
I felt Hanna had nailed my way of being in the world: somewhat cautious with a tendency to check things out for
fear that I would be overwhelmed.This was of course a typical ‘flight’ response to what I perceived as
stressors which kept me in a state of procrastination,ultimately postponing my engagement with life fully.
……….. And it became very dissatisfying and painful for me …………..
Coming across Hanna’s work I felt like I had been given the key which had the potential to unlock this pattern of
entrenched anxiety that stopped me from breathing fully and somehow held my upper arms like iron grips by my side, not quite immobile but with the feeling I was always holding myself back through an unconscious vague sense of
In recent years I have been lucky enough to be able to learn deeply through a 3 year Somatics training .It has beenfascinating to explore through these slow, neurosensory movements and to find ways to soften and release the
psychological patterns that underlie my tight shoulders and anxious mind.
It’s been an enlivening and hope-filled process as I feel a return to ease that was unknown to me before.And a real education as my nervous system
relays to my brain better and better ways to move, think and feel in the world.
My body is starting to speak what feels like a different language as I feel the anxiety dissolving and an ability to face what’s
before me more readily.It’s given me an inner strength that holds me more upright and eyes the world through a different lens .
On a recent training, after a session, I found myself walking around the room without my usual protective stance, fluid in my movement, without effort, and I heard myself saying
‘It’s safer for me to stand upright with a relaxed belly because when I stand like this more of me is available’ ………….
Meaning that my inner knowing and strength which was inaccessible when my belly and gut was tight became alive and available when released and knows instinctively what to do in any situation
I felt like I had found my own inner compass, and just as Charlie Brown has found his best stance for depression,I had found my best stance for ease and wholeness.
My work with clients , which I call Untying the Knots, has become an exploration of how to find our own inner compass and essentially find our way back to our own‘best’ selves, out of anxiety and back to being at home in our own skin.
How do you need to stand to feel alive, awake and at home in the world?