When I was a teenager I remember being told by my parents and other adults to stand up straight. But my shoulders were already rounded and my chest caved in as if I were hiding.
Jonathan Fields, a yoga teacher, has called the way in which thoughts and feelings get locked into the body "holding our issues in our tissues."
A very clever turn of phrase. It got me thinking about the past.
Despite the weakness and lack of balance in my body, I shouldered the responsibility of preaching at local churches as a teenager. I felt called to this ministry at an early age and have not slowed down over the long stretch of years. The slump of my shoulders has not stopped me from fulfilling my purpose: providing resources for those on a spiritual journey.
Some veteran readers of body language claim that slouched posture indicates being weighed down and overwhelmed by the burdens of responsibility. At times, I do feel the stress, but I also can see my posture as a sign of my surrender to God that provides me with the energy and the perseverance to carry on.
I occasionally throw my shoulders back, standing upright and poised.It feels good. But I am still much more exhilarated as I hunch down in front of my computer or slouch in a chair reading a book. I no longer get myself bent out of shape thinking about the issues in my tissues. And best of all, my keen sense of mission and the joys of responsibility provide a firewall against future fears of the sad stoop of the body in old age. Shoulders, I love you just the way you are!