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Rest Up!

Rest Up!

A very tall young man walked into my studio and appeared to be ducking to get under the doorframe to greet me. But, rather noticeably to me, he somehow never straightened up again as he extended his hand in greeting.

We talked. He explained his issue with wanting to pursue an acting career after his studies at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, but that he was being told he was already typecast because of his “bad posture”.

“I have been told you might be able to help me,” he ventured, “but to be honest I’ve been reticent to come and be told by yet another professional that unless I want to be restricted to playing Richard III all my career, I need to ‘Stand up straight!’ ”.

“Well,” I smiled, “if there’s one thing I can promise you with hand on heart, it is that I will NEVER tell you to do that. It makes no sense to me”.

He looked quizzical but attentive and sat down to start his discovery of what “posture” really is, what causes it and where the solution truly lies.

Having made further assessment, I continued, “I don’t believe you need to pull yourself upright to solve your stoop. I believe you are already working hard pulling on muscles to round your back and get you lower to the ground”.

I waited to see whether that registered.

“I also believe that, because of the remarkably efficient way that your spine and system is made, if you stop pulling yourself down like that you will, in fact, rest back up with a beautifully flexible, inner relationship of bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments, vertebral discs all working at their optimum.”

And all this time I was demonstrating what happens to my shaping when I pull hard on muscles that curve my trunk down and then how I am easily rested in my true height when I stop.

Already, from listening to this simple idea there was a difference in how he was arranging his body. There was an ease that hadn’t been there before and when I used light manipulation of his neck and spine to offer him a more tangible experience of the belief I was sharing, he literally transformed out of his rather stooped, apologetic appearance. Simply because he had stopped pulling himself down.

He turned and tilted his head to look down at me from his newly-elevated vantage point and an ease and confidence showed in his facial expression.

“But what have you done?”, he smiled, “I don’t feel any effort through my spine. Usually when I sit up this tall I feel pain between my shoulders, but instead I actually feel open and easier.” he marvelled.

And so began the lesson in cause and effect. What causes what in our systems and what is required to effect a change.

Later, as he paid and we parted company, he noticed (I’m glad to say) a certain ingratiating stoop he affected in order to interact with me. “OH! I’m doing it again!”, he declared, “I’m doing it to meet you at your level; to help you feel more comfortable rather than have a giant imperiously lording it over you!”

Aha! Here was a person with a clear reason to perform a certain movement, which appears to have become ingrained, and now with this personal insight and fresh new knowledge, he is in a better place from which to choose his more useful response.

He had his homework.

An excerpt from the fuller article, Getting You OUT of the Scene, originally written for Bonnie Gillespie’s “Actors’ Access”. Image courtesy of Graur Codrin at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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