I began an experiment examining my movements while walking, beginning with my normal gait. I filmed myself for five minutes each time as this was the recording limit on my camera, but this length of time was enough to allow me to settle into my posture which would possibly be altered by the knowledge that I was filming myself.
After the first five minutes of normal walking I then did a further five with an emphasis on relaxing the arms, followed by the legs, then both, and then finally I finished with various walking styles that over-exaggerated certain movements or particular areas of the body.
What I learned through analysing these various clips was that just as there was a gap between the feeling of relaxation and actual relaxation, there is a distinct general difference how my movements currently feel and look. In short, I have to make a concerted effort to over-exaggerate my movements and positions in order for them to better resemble how I want and imagine them to be.
In addition to this primary insight I also discovered that I have no strong images of what a more relaxed and confident walk may look like, despite obviously being able to spot one when I see it (perhaps there is a link between being able to accurately visualise a movement and being able to perform it). My initial self-observation was that my neck and upper back are too stiff and seem stuck together instead of being independent and articulated, but for now at least I am unable to imagine how loosening their association will change my walk. In any case it’s not sure that reverse-engineering gait is desirable or even possible, but I do believe however, that being more relaxed generally should also affect my moving posture, and I have at least some confidence that acting, pretending or behaving as if I was more relaxed should not only lead to real relaxation eventually, but it should also confer similar benefits along the way.
These videos will now also serve as a record of my movement quality during the very early stages of self-treatment.
I have also chosen to explicitly abandon the idea of improving my posture through mechanical means such as stretching, myofascial release or strengthening. Instead, inspired by other experiments in brain-body connection I will focus on tackling this challenge from the opposite direction, concentrating my efforts on mental techniques such as meditation, and building a greater sensitivity to, and awareness of my mental states and their relationship to certain postures, types of movement and exercises.
I currently feel that I’ve improved my sensitivity and that I am becoming better at imitating relaxedness in certain contexts. Much of my “training” so far has happened within designated sessions, but already, perhaps simply through spending more time focusing on, writing about and pondering the nature of relaxation, the practice is spilling over to daily life in a more general way. For example while sitting at the computer I am more aware of tension or discomfort, but more importantly I am quicker to do something about it. This reactivity is a necessary part of the equation when we increase sensitivity, for what use is knowledge if it is not acted upon?