The simplest way to improve your posture

If you’re at all familiar with this blog, I bet you think I’m going to say meditation. Guess what? Ha ha, I’m not!

It’s way simpler than that:

Whenever you’re doing something that does not require use of your hands, turn them so that they’re palm-side up (see the picture above). You also can do it while standing or walking, leaving your arms down at your sides and turning your palms so that they face outward in the direction you’re facing.

This palms-up position may be familiar to committed meditators and yogis who practice shavasana, but it’s foreign to those of us who spend a lot of time at a computer, behind the wheel of a car, holding babies, making lattes, or doing pretty much anything else that requires constant hand use. Even when we’re not using our hands, it’s just habit to sit, walk or stand with our hands facing down or behind us.

Wait for it — there’s a meridian connection: 

In acupuncture, the meridians that run along the inside of the arm, from the chest/underarm to the palm, are Heart, Pericardium and Lung….

Here is just a smattering of the functions each meridian is involved in (there are many more):

  • Heart: breathing, cardiac function, sleep, emotional balance and heat regulation.
  • Pericardium: breathing, blood circulation and upper digestive function.
  • Lung: breathing, immune function, perspiration, body temperature and urination.

…our lifestyles force our hands and arms into an almost constant downward/backward position, creating a tendency to slouch forward. This causes us to cave our upper bodies inward, crunching the Heart, Pericardium and Lung meridians.

Allowing these meridians to flow more freely optimizes their ability to perform their respective functions.

These three meridians are all yin meridians, flowing from the torso to the fingertips.

This is a mudra (energetic gesture in Hinduism and Buddhism). The palms-up mudra, you might have guessed, has to do with receiving energy from spirit or the universe, with allowing. It has to do with being open and surrendering yourself to the Mystery.

Try it when you think about it. Let one or both palms rest facing up, or outward if you’re on your feet. Notice the subtle but significant changes in posture.

Then make it a habit.

Thanks to Sara Calabro for this article.

Seeding the winter solstice

Today is the shortest day/longest night of the year. Before any organized religions existed, people celebrated this day as the returning of the light after a season of shorter days. It’s the end of harvest and the beginning of the yin-most season, winter. It’s the season of facing mortality, of gathering seeds with intention to plant new beginnings.

Ancient ruins show us that cultures around the world (from native Americans both north and south to Irish and British to Mediterranean and more, I’m sure) were savvy enough to build structures to mark and hold ceremonies for the solstices and equinoxes.

In those times, communities were more tenuous, and starvation in winter was a real possibility. Gatherings on winter solstice must have included the last feast before winter began in earnest, prayers for survival, requests for blessings from the higher powers, and of course, recognition of our complete dependence on nature, on Gaia, on the mysterious ways of the Universe that brought this astronomical event every year without fail but left so much more seemingly to chance, in somewhat random cycles of life, death, and rebirth.

When the religions came into existence, not being able to compete with astronomical, seasonal facts of solstice celebrations, they supplanted winter solstice observances by piling on their own holidays — Saturnalia, Hanukkah, Yule, Christmas, New Year’s, and more. (For a full listing of winter solstice observances, read the Wikipedia entry for winter solstice.)

In many ways, the new year actually begins today. This day may well be the most powerful day of the year for looking at your present life and allowing your intent for the coming year to make itself clear — bringing light into the darkness.

What do you intend for the coming year? What do you want to learn? What do you want to create? What direction will your life path take you?

Much of the future, of course, must remain dark. What fun would it be if we knew everything that would happen? No surprises, no trusting (or fearing) the universe will bring you just what you need. No challenges to help you rise to the occasion, to assist you to define and refine your character and expand your resourcefulness.

Recently I posted about beauty, and this is one of the 50 reasons why you are beautiful:

3. Beauty is a daring action. One that is built on your authentic intention instead of being attached to the outcome.

Being attached to the outcome leaves no room for the unknown and invites disappointment. Consider that the unknown making itself known may reveal even more beauty than you can possibly imagine.

Building on your authentic intention creates a direction that your actions can then follow, until it’s time to change direction.

Please let yourself dream today, and get in touch with the silent stillness that’s always available — just an intention away. Tapping into the silent stillness allows intentions to arise and clarify. Intentions are the seeds of action. What kind of new year can you intend for yourself?