With some nice weather finally arriving, I’ve been out walking lately, trying to get in shape for walking those steep climbs and drops in my old neighborhood in Marin (just a couple of weeks!). As I walked along today I tried to stay aware of how my body was moving. In these last five years since I developed the movement work I’ve been using and teaching, I’ve been slowly realizing how much more fluid my body is and that I had lost track of that flow as my natural state of being.
The more I release all the patterns and open my body the more I note that my back has lots of moving parts and they’re fluidly moving around as I walk if I let myself relax into it. My arms no longer just swing like a couple of blocks of wood but have fluid motion in which the hand, wrist, lower arm, elbow and upper arm are all gently flowing as I move. All the parts of my legs have their own part to play in the movement of walking. I had been so stiff that I completely lost any memory of that kind of flow as my natural state. And when I look around at the way most people walk through the world, I see very few who have any fluidity. These days I’m sorry to even see that a lot of children are holding themselves stiffly by the time they’re five or six.
Hips, I’ve discovered, have their own special story in our society. At around the same age (12 or 13 when I was young — possibly younger now) girls were told that swinging their hips was slutty and boys were told that swinging their hips was girly so most of us started tightening our muscles all around the hips and pelvis in order to avoid the slutty or girly labels. Added to lack of exercise and too much sitting most Americans have practically frozen hips by the time they hit 30. Those cultural admonitions run so deep that even though my students and I laugh about doing the slutty walk as we flow around the class room, we’ve found that in public we go back to walking stiffly unless we stay mindful of letting the opening we’ve gained stay in play.
When you can apply words like stiff, inflexible, tense, frozen and locked to your body, you can probably apply those words to other aspects of your life as the state of your body reflects the state of your emotions and/or suppressed memories and/or world view and/or your “stance” in life; in other words those words describe you in some way. As I’ve felt the shift from being stiff and frozen to being fluid and flowing I’ve developed a theory about the Law of Attraction and how it relates to the body: if the energy can’t flow through your body, it probably isn’t magnetized toward you from outside very well either. In order to align your being with the life you want to attract it’s important, as many teachings assert, to have a positive attitude, but I think it’s at least as much about energy.
In Hawaiian Huna they talk about building enough mana (chi, vital force energy…) to match the vibration of what you try to attract. I think an important part of the equation is opening your body so that your energy freely flows through. In the Kriya yoga tradition as I was taught it, the main point of the asanas is to open the body so that prana (chi) and kundalini (divine energy) can flow freely–and it’s believed that you can’t ultimately connect with your divine nature unless the energy can flow uninterrupted. Whatever your spiritual path, I think it”s impacted by whether you have a balanced and open body.
Walk around and pay attention to what you feel. Do you have that flow? Do the various parts of your body move easily in their own separate patterns as you move? If you find stiffness and tension instead of fluidity, the state of your body may be a big block to whatever your spiritual goals may be. Are you willing to do what it takes to flow?