Descartes is the villain, said Amy Castoro of the Irimi Group, if you are having trouble getting your mind to stay in touch with your body. Castoro, in a fabulous workshop for the Association for Woman in Science yesterday at the Miele headquarters, told the fascinating history of somatic psychology, how the body affects the brain and vice versa. “The price of learning to think objectively is the separation of mind and body,” she said.
I had to leave the meeting early, but not before she had everyone up on their feet in a “centering” exercise. Emotion can happen from the outside in, she suggests. If you hold a facial expression long enough, your body and your thoughts mirror it. “All of us have a shape. The shape we hold reflects our history.”
So if we consciously change our shape (our posture, our stance, the way we hold ourselves) we not only change the way we look to others (as in a job interview), but we can also change our mood.
One of her mentors is California-based Richard Strozzi-Heckler and another is right here in Princeton, Les Fehmi, author of “The Open Focus Brain: Harnessing the Power of Attention to Heal Mind and Body.” (I’m also a believer in the Open Focus methods of dealing with everything from hypertension and ADD to insomnia and pain.)
Though Castoro quoted Alice Miller as saying “the body never lies,” the woman who more famously said that was Martha Graham. The body might not lie, but you can negotiate with it. If you stand up straight and tall and look like a winner – you will feel like a winner. And you’ll likely be one.
(Writing is one of the few occupations where you can hide your body language. If you are reading this on Thursday, August 13, stop by to meet a bunch of writers, at the U.S. 1 Newspaper reception for writers (and readers), 5 to 7:30 p.m. at Tre Piani in Forrestal Village. This cash bar event celebrates the U.S. 1 fiction and poetry issue but welcomes everyone. So what do poets look like, anyway?)