We live in a world that we imagine and describe in words. And the words we use to describe them and the way we live our lives are interconnected. Words influence our lives and actions. How we describe reality affects what happens in it, how we feel in it, and how we act.
We used to think that language and body exist separately and don’t affect each other in any way. Our task is to see that there is a more subtle and obvious relationship between bodily reactions to certain events and words.
Right now, conduct a simple experiment on yourself. Try to remember the cartoon or the book about Winnie the Pooh. There are two exemplary characters there, whose character we must carry through ourselves. Imagine Donkey Eeyore. What characterizes him externally? His head hanging down, his body drooping, his heavy sighs. Be transported into his body, feel and hold his state within you. What do you call this state? Remaining in this pose, repeat the following phrases:
- “Yes, I’m ready to do this.”
- “I’m really excited for you.”
- “I have many possibilities and I believe in them.”
- “The world is an amazing place.”
- “I can do anything.”
Change your posture, shake yourself up. Ask yourself the question: did you manage to sincerely say these phrases or did you feel a resistance and imbalance inside yourself? Maybe you had a discrepancy between your words and your feelings, or maybe you felt tightness in your body. Now think of another character, Tigra. Tigra, if we remember the cartoon, was jumping, flying up, always striving ever higher. He had his chin up, his head was looking forward and he had a bright smile on his face. Try smiling, too. Exhale and say out loud:
- “This is really bad.”
- “I hate you all.”
- “I’ve never been good at anything and I never will be good at anything.”
- “It’s all pointless.”
As with the previous character, ask yourself again – did your bodily reactions match the words you said?
See how interesting this is. Our body creates our moods for us, shapes our thoughts and enables us, in one way or another, to act. In fact, we think and speak the way our body feels every time. If we are happy because we’ve won at a live casino or eaten something tasty, it’s hard for us to talk and think about something bad and sad. Conversely, if bodily we feel upset, any phrases with a positive and motivational message will not even appear in our thoughts.
When we talk about body condition, we are talking about very simple noticeable bodily manifestations: posture, breathing, head position, and gaze. We can easily notice them if we direct our attention to them.
The body provides some background to our thoughts, decisions, and actions at any given time. We are used to thinking that everything that arises in our head appears there out of nowhere, but in fact, we think as our bodily state allows us in the present moment. You probably have friends who fit any of the cartoon characters described above. There’s Winnie the Pooh. Somebody acts like Eeyore. Someone is constantly in a mood like Tigra. The point is that these states are long-lasting and affect our description of the world and how we perceive it through the prism of our words.
So the body turns out to be the opportunity that tells us what our real intentions are. The body cares about what we say and what we say. When we speak sincerely, we feel stronger. When we dare to tell the truth, we become more resilient. Sometimes this is at odds with our experience in everyday life because over the course of our lives many of us develop a strategy of “what untruth to say in order to…” An extension of the phrase might be: to be loved, to have no problems, to be safe. This is something we learn from childhood. It was easier for us to tell our parents an untruth than to make them worry or listen to their reprimands. But the fact is that when we tell the truth and are kind, we are physically more resilient and calmer.
Try a simple experiment. Say something that is false (for example, “Paris is the capital of Germany”) and note how calm, steady, and confident you feel. Now try saying something that is true and again note how calm and confident you feel? Is there a difference?
The same thing happens in situations where we say something kind and unkind. It’s a fact of our body that when we are kind, we are physically more stable, calmer and feel stronger. You can test this fact for yourself. Below is a video demonstration by one of the most prominent embodiment masters, Paul Linden.
Let’s look at another aspect of the interaction between language and the body. Have you noticed that we can say “yes” or “no” not only with our tongue, but also with our body? We all have situations where we say “yes” but inside we feel that we disagree, that we want to say “no.” By acting contrary to our bodily reactions, we create a stress response in the body, which makes us weaker.
Do another experiment.
Think about something that’s really important to you, and notice how your body reacts. Feel the support: wiggle in place, stomp your feet, assume an upright position. Pay attention to your breathing. Look at the space around you. Think again about what is meaningful to you and say yes to it. If it’s something that makes you want to fight and is meaningful, say no to it.
How strong and confident do you feel in this position? This experiment shows what really matters to us. The body responds to affirmation or denial by providing an opportunity to see if this is really what I’m willing to wake up for every day. This is helped by finding stability in the body and reducing the stress response.
So when we talk about values, about morals, about ethics, it’s not all just thoughts and words. It’s what we feel with our whole body, with our whole gut. The body helps us to make choices, to make decisions and to act according to values. When we have the skill of centering, we automatically “choose the road that leads us to the temple.” We start doing good things, focusing on actions that help us realize our values, which enables us to build a long-term strategy for our life’s journey. If you have energy-consuming tasks, if you want to reconnect with forgotten or yet to be found values, develop the habit of saying confidently and only what really resonates in you.