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Your "Posture" and what it means on many levels

[I'm joining the entire Red Room community in writing a short blog post on this week's topic: “Heroes.” The form and the content of the blog entry are up to you. Our editors will choose at least one of these blogs to be featured on Red Room's homepage next week, and three blog writers will receive free books from Red Room Authors that relate to the topic. Submit your blog entry by Friday at 10:30 a.m. PDT [GMT-0700] and be sure to tag the entry with the keyword term “heroes blog” to be considered. I can’t believe I left this to the last minute, but here goes!] 

First of all, my husband, Abraham Mertens, is my hero, but that is a whole book and not a blog entry, so, I’m going to talk about someone else here today. It still relates to my husband, because there is something about him that inspired me to seek out the person I am going to write about. That’s because, among his other notable qualities, my husband has perfect posture, and I have always wished I did. 

Abe’s happy openness in relating to the world as a safe place for him to explore, enjoy, and connect with others is reflected in his posture--this is more than a physical characteristic. Also, he’s comfortable with his body as an integrated part of who he is (he has to be—he’s an athlete). My curled-over shoulders and looking at the ground as I walked was the legacy of a self-conscious adolescence in which I turned inward and against myself, and felt at war with my body. I always figured I’d fix it later. I still, as an adult, feel self-conscious holding my head “too” high, or standing up “too” confidently. 

A couple of years ago, when we were engaged, I pictured myself walking down the aisle with Abe. I imagined him walking confidently with an open heart, the outside reflecting the inside…and me, feeling the same way he feels, but my heart still trapped in a body subtly constrained by the desire to be invisible that shaped my body when I was thirteen. It was awful to imagine myself trapped in a body that looks ashamed! I wanted to be like Abe, both of us having an expansive feeling inside and showing it in the outward expression of our physical health and bearing. That led me to be open to finding a health care practitioner who specifically works on posture.

My friend Teresa Marchese, a personal trainer here in San Francisco (we went to law school together), showed me a thirty-second exercise to relax the jaw that a posture expert had shown her. I tried it and was amazed how well it worked. She told me the expert's name, Aaron Parnell, and I made an appointment immediately.

I’ve now been working with him for two years. Aaron’s insights into human posture and health go way beyond his training. He has a grand vision for spreading information about posture and health to everyone in the world—this brings us to the topic of the day: Heroes. Aaron is very much right in the middle of the book of his own hero’s journey. And he’s helping me on mine. The only thing I spend the time or money on regarding my health is seeing Aaron two or three times a month, to do the challenging kind of bodywork he developed, called “Reposturing.”  

Aaron does more than work on my back, he helps deal with the mind-body issues that led to poor posture in the first place when I was an adolescent, and helps open up my future to something new and healthier and more open on every level. He’s on a mission to help people be without pain, to feel and relate to the world with an open-hearted confidence that is reflected in their posture, and to achieve a higher level of self-realization and health because of it. I had no idea that at my age, improving my posture, as a prism through which to see my other challanges, could be so helpful and meaningful.

  Abe and I couldn’t wait to get married until we were perfect, or we'd never get married, so we got married anyway, and I tried to stand up as straight as I could during the ceremony. And it wasn’t hard that day. Now, on a daily basis, Abe and I walk to work and I have a posture checklist I do to reinforce what Aaron is teaching me. I'm not the best student, but I have a clear idea in my mind's eye of what I would look like with great posture and I am working toward it.

Usually when people get older, they get smaller, they stop looking up and start looking down at only the ground in front of them, they become literally cowed, and this limits their range of motion. Then their spine fuses in that unnatural position. Their lung capacity is crushed. Now that I spend all my time with Abe, who is never cowed, and I have his encouragement to carve out the time to work with Aaron, I picture myself becoming a little old lady with perfect posture, not being stooped over by life, not staring at the ground, never cowed, having a full range of motion, and approaching each day as if the world is a safe and exciting place for me to be, on every level.

So, thanks Aaron, for striving to be a hero who makes heroes out of others (have you ever seen a hero come on the scene with anything less than perfect posture?).

5 Comment count
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Love this post!

Ivory, I love your unconventional choice of a hero and I really enjoyed getting to know you through your personal revelations here. I even think I'll walk a little taller for the next few days. :)

Shana McLean Moore

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I love this post, too. It is

I love this post, too. It is very well-written and interesting, and I can fully identify with the posture problems. :-)

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Yes, I've noticed how people

Yes, I've noticed how people return to curling up into a foetal position as they age. I have missed my massage therapist for several months now and the ill effects are tremendous, tightening and tension within my body and, for that matter, my mind. After reading your post I am on my way to making an appointment with her! Thanks Ivory.

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awesome reflection

This is a beautiful post. I am always amazed at how interconnected our minds and bodies are, in both directions. I consider myself a joyful person, but I have horrible posture. I am undisciplined about correcting it, and I wonder how that lack of will affects other areas of my life (most of which feel quite willful).

Maybe life would make more sense if I had fuller range of motion and thus a fuller view of the world? Perhaps my heart would be more open if my shoulders would square, instead of rounding as they always do. And maybe, just maybe, if I learned to let some of my grudges go, the tension would melt off my neck and back.

I wish I could convince myself to think about and correct my posture more often throughout the day.

Katie Burke

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Interesting post...

Inspiring too. Note people's response is to want to change! It is not easy to persuade people to change. Congratulations on such effectiveness.

Like Shana, I enjoyed your personal revelations here giving us an opportunity to know you better.

Personally, I think establishing
Red Room was a heroic and amazing thing to do. Thanks.