Can Meditation Help My Posture?
There are several things that can improve posture – and meditation is one. The idea of a healthy state of mind is an often overlooked point. It has been observed that our mood, whether it’s positive, anxious, or depressed, affects our posture. For over two decades I have been helping people to correct their posture. In that time I’ve noted those who feel stressed in their lives have a hard time holding good posture. Meditative practices influence the way we carry ourselves, because to have good posture requires having emotional balance.
The brain and posture – It’s all about threat
In 1996 Ronald Melzack proposed the theory of the neuromatrix. The neuromatrix activates perceptual, homeostatic, and behavioral programs after injury, pathology, or chronic stress. Pain is produced by the output of a widely distributed neural network in the brain (you can click on this PubMed article to read more). This is telling us that pain is not just an automatic reaction to injury but rather the brain’s “choice”. It is based on perceived present and past experience.
When I discovered this theory it made so much sense to me. I wondered why some people are able to control their expression of pain and others could not. Because of the neuromatrix a person develops the pattern of pain that becomes wired in the brain – like a bad habit. If you perceive or are experiencing greater stress whether that be emotional stress or a slouching posture, your experience of pain will be greater!
Chronic pain or discomfort will begin to wire your brain in such a way that it results in a posture reflective of the state of mind. As the posture gets worse it takes a defensive slouched posture. Due to discomfort and emotional stress your body reflects a position of threat as if it were actually experiencing threat. The brain perceiving threat then tells the body to maintain the poor posture. It’s a vicious cycle that needs to stop.
Meditation and Posture
Meditation will help your posture by tapping into the neuromatrix. Flip the switch in your brain and experience the world as safe and non-threatening. You are thus taking yourself out of the state of “fight or flight”. Fight or flight refers to the state your nervous system is in when you feel or think you’re under attack.
Your entire physiology changes to better handle an attack by increasing your heart rate, pushing blood towards your heart and muscle and away from digestive organs. If your body stays in that mode for too long, your body will break down faster than it builds up, hence your health declines.
This is where meditation comes in. A practice of stilling your mind and focusing on your breath will change your brain function. It could eliminate completely the perception of threat. You will feel more relaxed. The tension in your shoulders will reduce and you will feel more peaceful. Pain will be more manageable. Check out this study from 2015 – the effects of mindfulness meditation on chronic painf.
Be regular in your meditation practice and experience a more relaxed state of mind in your daily life. Feel more calm and peaceful and your brain will send signals to your body. The message will be to have a more open chest and upright posture. Your improved posture will be much easier to maintain as you keep your mind peaceful, relaxed and positive. Remember when you practice your meditation be sure to be in a healthy posture!