The Advantage of Poise
Would you like more poise?
And no, I’m not talking about the “Bladder Leakage Pads” that show up in a Google search of the word “poise.” What I’m interested in is the “graceful and elegant bearing in a person,” which is the definition which appears at the very top of the page in that Google search!
Is poise a word you can relate to?
I hope to convince you that poise is something well worth having.
Most of us can recognize poise when we see it, and find it attractive. But aside from looking good, what is the point of it? Why would you want it?
Here’s how my old Webster’s dictionary defined poise:
- a state of balance or equilibrium, as from equality or equal distribution of weight
- a dignified, self confident manner or bearing; composure; self-possession
- steadiness; stability; intellectual poise
- the way of being poised, held or carried
- the state or position of hovering
I love these definitions, and they certainly do suggest why I am so drawn to this term. When I think about poise, I associate it with people are self-possessed, who remain calm under pressure, who not only have great posture, but are free from tension (relaxed, yet upright). I think it’s interesting and important to note that the dictionary refers not only to the physical attributes of poise, but also to intellectual poise. The qualities of poise are both of the mind and the body.
I believe we would all do well to aim toward poise, because it offers so much.
Here are some of the advantages I have come up with, starting with the obvious, and moving toward the less obvious.
People with poise:
- look more attractive
- appear and feel more confident
- are self-possessed
- remain calm under stress
- have great posture
- are not tense
- rarely experience pain associated with excess tension and poor posture
- are more present
Some lucky people just seem to be born with a natural poise, while the rest of us struggle with slumping and slouching, straining and excess tension, lack of confidence, over-reacting, panic attacks, neck, back and shoulder pain, always looking to the future or back into the past, while rarely enjoying the present moment.
But what if poise just doesn’t come naturally to you?
Is poise something you can learn?
Alexander Technique is a very effective way to bring more poise into your life. The Alexander Technique teaches us how to let go of unnecessary tension in any given moment and move with a natural efficiency. Many people come to the Technique to help them overcome problems with pain and tension, and find that they come away with so much more… poise!
To finish, I recently saw this video of 19-year old Jason Brown’s Free Skate in the 2014 US Figure Skating Championships. If he doesn’t demonstrate poise under pressure in this spectacular performance, I don’t know who does.
Poise, however, does not have to be reserved for spectacular feats like this, or for glamorous movie stars. It is something we can all have in our everyday lives – sitting at the computer, interacting with friends and acquaintances, or dealing with the typical daily frustrations of work and family life.
The Alexander Technique teaches us a systematic way to achieve a state of poise more often. It is always a work in progress, but the benefits are so worthwhile. Do you have the poise advantage?
What does the word poise mean to you? Which celebrities do you think epitomize best the qualities of poise? And if you’ve studied Alexander Technique, has it helped you have more poise? Please leave your answers or any other comments in the box below.
The OED has the following definitions you might enjoy:
1. graceful and elegant bearing in a person
Their choice of use in a sentence is:
“poise and good deportment can be cultivated”
1.1 composure and dignity of manner
Their choice of use in a sentence is:
“at least he had a moment to think, to recover his poise”
Love the AT reference inhibition in “a moment to think.”
(be poised) (of a person or organization) be ready to do something
A well poised post Imogen.
These are great, Patrick. And the idea of “recovering poise” is really good – we all have the opportunity to recover our poise 🙂
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