Alignment: To arrange in a straight line, or in the correct and appropriate relative positions.
I'm working hard to dedicate myself to core principles that help me align my mind, body, and soul.
We do yoga, pilates, core strength, Feldenkrais, Bosu Ball, wobble board and so many other techniques to get our body into alignment. Why?
"Improper body alignment limits function, and thus it is a concern of everyone regardless of occupation, activities, environment, body type, sex, or age."
Body alignment refers to how we stand, sit, and walk, but what if we apply this concept to our lives?
Just like an out of alignment body will limit your function, so too will an out of balanced life.
Being out of alignment will
- skew your outcome.
- slow you down your growth.
- result in mistakes and often injury.
We can properly align our spines by engaging different muscles in order to find the best posture for our bodies.
Does it come overnight? Is it the same for everyone? Do we use each muscle the same amount?
No. No. And no.
Learning how to properly stand or sit takes time and effort.
In order to sit correctly over a period of time you need to use a balance of lower back muscles combined with engagement of your lower abdominals. If you're used to slouching over at your desk this may feel difficult and uncomfortable at first but over a period of time it begins to feel right. Aligned.
We have to find our "best life posture" in our daily lives in order to work towards a perfectly aligned life.
"Posture is attained as a result of coordinated action of various muscles working to maintain stability."
I find my best "life posture" is attained when I engage each of my "life core muscles" during my day. Each one of us has a different set of life core muscles. They will change over time depending on life circumstances, health, and age. I've had difficulty learning when to adjust my core muscles. Trust me, it becomes more obvious in your 40's and as you get older. The good news though is that you get better at the practice with age.
Currently these are my seven life core muscles:
Keeping these seven life core muscles working together isn't easy for me because I've made a habit of busy days, procrastination, skipping step, taking shortcuts and working one life core muscle too hard over another. If I do this I get sick, depressed, manic, testy, pudgy, or too thin, and also don't sleep. The stakes for me are pretty high.
If I pay attention to each life core muscle I achieve a balanced day.
The more I learn to engage these life core muscles I am able develop a practice which results in personal and professional growth.
On my most focused days I try to work my life core muscles in a certain order. That "almost" perfectly aligned day looks like this.
LIFE CORE MUSCLE 1: FOCUS
6 am: 20 minute morning meditation followed by a reward of a mug of tea curled up in bed with the morning news while I wait for the kids to get up. Linking my meditation to a cozy reward has really worked for me.
LIFE CORE MUSCLE 2: EXERCISE
9 or 10 am: One hour of exercise, usually a group dance class so I can engage with others and feel part of a community.
LIFE CORE MUSCLE 3: NUTRITION
11 am: I think about food for the day. I am learning that in my 40's my body feels best when I eat small meals, about 150-200 calories at a time. I try to nourish my body before it enters the out of control hunger phase. If I don't I quickly drop out of alignment which literally shows up immediately as my stomach bloats and then will remain for the rest of the day. Nutrition is one of the most difficult muscles for me to keep under control, so I am working on minuscule alignment adjustments to help myself stay engaged.
LIFE CORE MUSCLE 4: LEARNING
Mid morning: While I do my daily chores of walking the dog, kitchen clean up, cooking and tidying the house, I am usually listening to a book or a podcast. This is my daily "learning" and it helps my brain mull over what I will create that day or later on in the week, or maybe in the upcoming year. I enjoy learning, which I never really did as a child. The difference as an adult is that I focus on what interests me.
LIFE CORE MUSCLE 5: THINKING
Midday: This is a new muscle for me. I am working the practice of being an original thinker. I try to take ten minutes in the middle of the day while I sit and think with a pad and a paper and idea generate. You could call it an idea brainstorm or in my case a brain dump. I have so many ideas in my head. If I write them down while not putting much pressure on what the ideas or thoughts are but instead just flex that muscle I feel more whole.
LIFE CORE MUSCLE 6: CREATION
After lunch I take time to create. Currently my daily blog post plus one more creation that I'm "allowed" to work on. I've allowed myself only one other project at a tim(30 days at a time) in order to keep my mind in alignment. If I allow myself to do more it will immediately throw something else out of alignment. My second creation that day has to be kept small and succinct. If I want it to be a large project overall, it will have to become that over the month or the year, not in that day! That would be working too many muscles!
LIFE CORE MUSCLE 7: REST
This doesn't mean literal rest although it could mean that. This is a difficult muscle for me. I tend to want to multitask and continue working other muscles while I'm supposed to be giving my mind and body a rest. If I have stayed mostly in alignment in the beginning of the day I have an easier time letting myself rest. Regardless, I have to pick up kids at 3 so trying to use any of my other life core muscles at that point is fairly useless. I need to focus on helping my kids work their core muscles. While they play, or practice guitar, or draw, eat, complain, or whatever it is kids do, I try to either do it with them or I read a book, lie down for a bit, relieve my mind of thinking about the other core muscles. If I don't give myself a break I start to obsess and get out of alignment.
Of course the days vary. I gave you my best day. Sometimes I have to go to the doctor, a hair appointment, or a dance class that's at 5 pm not 10 am. In that case I restructure my day to allow myself to address each life core muscle.
Do I fail? Yes! All the time. But as I practice more and more each day I start to feel those uncomfortable muscles becoming stronger. As a result I start to click.
Your life core muscles may be way different than mine. You may find that you can start with mine and then build upon that. Some of your muscles might be underdeveloped and some may be overdeveloped. Some may be just right.
Remember the goal! Find your own best life posture through engaging your life core muscles daily in order to work towards your perfect life alignment.
Now I have a question for ya. Are you sitting up straight?