The week of 9th January 2017 holds certain significance in my life. This was the week when I was part of a series of workshops in Mumbai, on Primal Posture™ with the founder of the Gokhale Method™ Esther Gokhale. This was the first time, the method was being promoted actively in India. Hundreds of people were being introduced to a new way of thinking about posture and pain management.
In every workshop, I stood upfront, bearing witness to the tremendous benefits I have derived from learning, and now teaching this method. My intent was to share my story, on becoming pain free from the chronic back pain that bothered me for 16 years of my prime youth. While the physical benefits were obvious and easy to share with the audience who had primarily come for a solution to their pain, the other significant benefits I had gained were obvious only to me. Every time we finished a workshop and spent time reflecting on it, I became more aware of the leadership posture that I had gained through my work on the physical posture. My outlook on life, the way I look at myself, and how I deal with the situation around me, all had transformed.
Mindfulness of the energy
One of the first things one learns in the Gokhale Method Foundations course, is the optimal architecture for every part of the human body. Starting from the feet, knee, hips, back, shoulder and the neck there is an ideal that is so central to the human design. By becoming deeply aware of the ideal for each part in my own body, I become mindful of any small shifts that I experience through the day, and continue to work towards the ideal. It is not just the body, I also become aware of my emotions. I know, when I am tensed about something, I tend to arch my back, my voice becomes sharp and I can feel my energy trapped in the chest. By elongating my spine, and working on reducing the arch, I am able to reconnect with myself and unblock the energy. I am sensitive to the energy fields and how the work on the body allows the energy to flow freely. This has given me an additional window through which to look at the physical body and how it can become a conduit for positive spirit in others around me.
“Being centered” is a difficult concept to explain in words. We experience it when we meet someone, who seems grounded, self-assured and is comfortable in one’s own being. When one learns pottery on the wheel, one of the first things taught is to center the clay. This involves using the gentle force of hands on the lump of clay and working with the help of the torque created by the wheel to align the clay, to prepare it for being pulled up into the shape the potter desires. A perfectly thrown and a well balanced pot stays firm on the wheel and endures gracefully all the latter stages. Similarly, I realise that when my posture is aligned, my spine is long, my shoulders are nice far back, my neck is tall and elongated, I feel centered. When I am centered, I am more rooted. I am at ease and open to ideas, views and willing to be shaped by things around me. I absorb, while retaining what is core to me.
Humility, that I am always a work in progress
Humility doesn’t come easily when one has always had to strive to be on the top of the game. Yet, working on my posture has helped me realise, how far back I am from my ideal self; that I will always be a work in progress. And this has come to me from different quarters than one would normally encounter in the corporate world. I draw my inspiration for the ideal from a Koli woman who is carrying her basket of fish on the head, with absolute poise and power in her steps. She reminds me to work on my gluteal muscle in my walk. I see a Bombay Municipal Corporation (BMC) sweeper holding his shoulders far back and cleaning the streets in the morning, he serves me a reminder that I have a lot of work to do on my shoulders. I see the security guard outside the bank standing tall answering the customers and watching for trouble and I am reminded to have my weight on heels and stand tall. I notice people that I would never have in the past, and I learn from them to be humble about what I have achieved and how much more I need to work to get to what they have. I notice that at work I am keenly looking at what strengths others have, and not just what I have.
Being intellectually aware of good posture, becoming mindful of it and making it part of every movement has helped me regain a pain-free life. As this has happened, I realise that my leadership posture – my sense of who I am and what I am I am about- has also been reshaped. My work with my physical posture continuously informs my leadership posture. As I strive to live my leadership posture, I am even more conscious of my physical posture. I cannot separate one from the other. It is a continuum. A work in progress.