Ye Postural Manifesto, Part II: The Remedy

In the Preamble, we portrayed an epidemic of internal fragmentation, described suffering as the inevitable result of such internal conflict, & finally suggested that poor posture is often the physiognomy—the outward expression—of such strife. In fact, the condition is a self-perpetuating positive feedback loop, since the said posture exerts retroactive influence back up on the heart & mind. How might one then go about the yoga of our various aspects, onetime fragmented? Union being our desired result—what is the method thither?

Obviously we do not fragment ourselves intentionally, yet we invariably find ourselves fragmented. We are like the drunkard who wakes up in Kansas after bar-hopping in Missouri: between the states, a gulf of unconsciousness. Evidently we must develop the capacity to sustain awareness if we are to preempt such vicious & insensible somnambulism. When our attention stabilises, we are able to recognise & relinquish internal conflicts, in real time, as they arise. Our consciousness of this erstwhile unconscious activity is the solvent that resolves these budding struggles before they calcify in the body. In this way, we proactively reconcile the psychosomatic suffering that invariably results from our compulsive self-fragmentation.

Consider this example of one of the more insidious impeti such of internal fragmentation: suppose I’m washing the dishes & I simultaneously want to be done with them. In this case, I have indeed fragmented myself—

one aspect performing action, fingers in the suds, scraping away spaghetti-sauce, 

& the other wanting to play with my pet gecko named “Aloric.” 

I have fixated on the outcome of my action even as I perform it. Given that these two activities are mutually exclusive in the given moment, a subtle strain within me is the result. I might express this internal tension by tightening my diaphragm or clenching my shoulders; in any case, I have forfeit my ease of body & peace of mind all for the sake of entertaining a vapid fantasy. In fact, the reptile is probably happier without me & it probably takes me even longer to finish the dishes cause I’m trying to multitask. If I manage to bring attention to this condition, I will perceive this self-inflicted tension between conflicting desires & can subsequently release it. If I remain unconscious of this rift, however, I doom myself to suffer. Evidently, I must create a habit of awareness.

When we bring attention to such an affair, it is immediately apparent that if we are to avoid internal strife, an activity must be performed not for its result but simply for itself. Hindu scriptures enunciates this instruction:

You have right to the work itself, but never to its fruits,

Krishna instructs Arjuna on the eve of the great battle.

Established in oneness, perform action

the Bhagavad Gita also counsels.

Jesus offered similar counsel in the Sermon on the Mount. As The Gospel of Matthew records it:

If thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light…

Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

Matthew 6:22, 6:34

The corroboration of the value of internal unity by such diverse sources as the Bhagavad Gita, the New Testament, & “Ye Postural Manifesto” suggest the universality of this challenge to humankind. Unfortunately, the value of such composure is all too often overlooked in our society. History, progress, & the concept of linear time advancing towards an ultimate goal, be it the Second Coming or retirement in the Bahamas: these are inventions of the Modern West, along with flat-screen TVs & disposable razors. All of these inventions conspire to condition in us a compulsive habit of division within & amongst ourselves. We perform our activity in a perpetual state of dis-ease, the product of a tension between our action & the reward to which we strive. Indeed this becomes so continuous that we cease to notice it altogether. A herring’s habitat is the ocean; Man swims in a sea of perpetual anxiety. Our minds lust after objects, chasing them on flights of fancy & straying far from their corporeal temples.
We desert our bodies.
We establish a ghost-town of vacant temples.
Aches, pains, & poor posture: these are the body crying in the wilderness.

The remedy must be communion. We must welcome our prodigal souls back into their deserted temples. We must allow our itinerant minds to re-inhabit their empty aeries. Let us embrace these flighty vagabonds in spite of their errantry.
Let us view time not as an incessant march towards some object in the future, but rather as a perpetual ebb & flow according to the rhythms of nature.
When time is cyclical, life arises in the process, not its terminus.
The path is the goal; walk it like you’ve already arrived.
Love the question more than the answer.
When we attend to the dissolution of its conditions, tension dissipates spontaneously & we live with ease of body & peace of mind.
Living aspects of all persons unite!


Ye Postural Manifesto, Part I: Preamble

Posture is hard work.

These are the words of my teacher, Monica Caspari. They represent her concise expression of a spectre that’s haunting the Modern West. So poignant is her statement that I would gladly decorate it with some superfluous qualifiers & then expound on it till I’ve pounded out a veritable manifesto.

Good posture is hard work; poor posture is even harder—oh the slings & arrows! Every one of us has 84 troubles, & we adopt an eighty-fifth when insist on waging war with gravity. Obviously we do not deliberately march into battle against such a nebulous & indefatigable enemy. Nevertheless, time & time again we experience the casualties of this contest as back-pain, shoulder-aches, & plantar fasciitis, etc…. What then compels us into this ultimately unwinnable contest?

In fact, by the time we reach this eighty-fifth problem, we find ourselves already so overwrought by the antecedent eighty-four that we hardly even notice gravity effecting our inevitable demise. So what of these four score & four troubles?

If we trace these sundry struggles germinations back to their rootstock, we find the original genesis in our compulsive instinct to fragment ourselves. We unconsciously pit our various aspects against one another, & divided against ourselves, we suffer therefore. Indeed, every time we wish our immediate experience were otherwise, we have established such a rift—we have cleft our psyche from our physical selves. Having what we don’t want & wanting what we don’t have, wanting to keep what we have, having to keep what we want, etc…such conditions impel this partition.

Buddhist teachers designate this fragmentation as the preeminent cause of human suffering—dukkha, they call it. As I painted it in an earlier post: at any given moment, we are having an experience. Consider that our relationship to this experience is the plenary determinant of our existential well-being. Often we ascribe this power to conditions in the world, thereby mistakenly divesting ourselves of our own sovereignty.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

Some attribute these words to Nelson Mandela, others to Marianne Williamson from The Course in Miracles. Roses smell as sweet whether they grow in rose-gardens or drainpipes, & gurus come in sundry guises. When we believe our well-being to be contingent on perfect external circumstances, then this becomes the case; our prophecy fulfills itself & we forfeit our own autonomy withal.

Only by recognising the mechanics of this process do we free ourselves from it; when we see the fetters to be diaphanous & self-imposed, no longer can they bind. Through deeper inquiry, we find first that our usual understanding appears reversed—that our relationship to experience becomes primary & objective conditions arise almost accidental (naturally we maintain preferences, but the latter simply arise within the field of all experience that we encounter & to which we sustain relationship withal.)

The fruits of insight ripen under the rays of our continued attention. Soon we no longer find it necessary to fit experience into a conventionally deterministic framework altogether. Cause & effect commingle & beget curly-headed glories. With understanding, we know everything to be arising concurrently in one perpetual bloom of the present instant.
When was it ever not now?
And tomorrow never comes.

To frame chronic physical tension in this way is to see it as another expression—another facet—of a particular rift in our relationship to experience. The converse holds as well: out of kinder conditions, kinetic ease. Gravity is actually disinterested: it is our own orientation to it that determines whether it pulls us down or holds us up. This is the integration of structure, soul, & psyche. In this state we find the capacity to meet all experience with our whole selves.

Existential fragments of all aspects unite!