Stop and think!
You may well be puzzled. Thinking?
What has that got to do with computer posture?
The answer: Everything!
Our mind (thoughts and emotions) and body are inextricably linked. More than connected, they are simply different aspects of the same whole. Our thoughts, therefore, are incredibly important to how we function. We can learn to be aware of them and think consciously and intentionally as a way to direct and enhance our movement, posture, coordination, and indeed our state of being.
While working at the computer, I find it useful to take frequent, mindful “micro-pauses” to THINK – to give myself a “mental message” or “direction” that will encourage stress reduction, freedom of movement, clarity of thought, openness and expansiveness, release of tension, and more. All these things contribute to positive changes in my computer posture, not to mention my productivity, confidence, and comfort level.
Here are some examples of the type of the directions, or “thoughts,” I find useful to give myself intermittently as I work:
- My neck is free
- I am free to sit
- I am free to sit on my sit bones
- I am free to notice my sit bones
- My feet are free
- I am free to notice my feet
- My feet are free to rest on the floor
- My legs are free
- My hip joints are free
- I am free to type
- I am free to click the mouse
- My hand is free to rest
- I am free to breathe
- My breathing is free
- My ribs are free to move with my breath
- My back is free
- My back is wide and open
- My chest is open and spacious
- My hands are free
- My fingers are free
- My elbows are free
- I am free to work at my computer
- My chair is free to support me
- I am free!
The possibilities are endless. I just choose one, or possibly two, in any given moment that I feel drawn to or think will be helpful.
You may have noticed that all of these examples are stated as a fact – in the present, here and now. This is very important. Additionally, the vast majority use the word “free.” This approach to thinking is founded in the Alexander Technique idea of directing, and specifically an innovation in directing created by Jennifer Roig-Francoli. Her “freedom directions” include an element of free will. “I am free to sit – any way I want – or not at all….” We use “freedom directions” – these thoughts – as a way to affirm a possibility to ourselves. The implication is that I am free to do “it” any way I want, that I am free not to do it in my habitual way, and I am free not do it at all, for instance. I can even do something else if I choose!
This turns out to be very, well, freeing, both physically and mentally. And of course the word “free” has great associations for freeing oneself of tension and of freedom of movement, which is helpful too. The last thing we want from our posture is something stiff, static and held.
The way you think is important, and plays an important role in how helpful you will find the direction. First, keep it light. These are not thoughts you have to focus on intently. In fact, quite the opposite. Think the thought, then let it go, trusting the message will get through. If you notice the thought seemed helpful, you can, of course, come back to it at any time.
Once you get the idea of how to use these “freedom directions” it’s easy to come up with your own, that are specifically useful to your situation. Especially if we are in that “get-it-done” mode, thinking in this way can be exceptionally helpful.
If you’d like to find out more about this way of thinking, this is an interview I did about it for the Body Learning Podcast:
And so, returning to the words of William James in the quote at the beginning of this post, I truly believe he is right, “The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.”
Are you aware of what your thoughts as you work at the computer – of the, often subconscious, mental messages you are sending yourself? I’d love to hear if you have ways of thinking that you find helpful. Or have you noticed times when your thoughts get you in trouble? And if you try out some of these “freedom directions” I’d love to hear what you notice. As always, I’d love to hear from you. Please leave your comments in the box below.