I attended the Gokhale Method Foundations* course on primal posture in last November. The 3 day workshop made me aware of my posture, of how I was walking, standing, sitting, lying down, getting up, lifting things and just being. After a total of 10 hour sessions and armed with a book on posture, I was sure that this would be a new way of being me; posture- wise.
How I was wrong. A few days after the workshop I relapsed into my old ways of slouching, walking and sitting. They felt more natural, more comfortable. The few times that I did practice the posture, my body immediately felt better; but it was just more comfortable to not put in so much effort or worry about my posture.
There was one thing from the workshop that stayed with me though. While we were sitting, my trainer used to ask- If you had a tail, where would it be now?
If you were sitting on your tail, then that’s the wrong posture. If your tail is behind you, then you are probably doing it right. This was something that I could absolutely fix unconsciously. I would scoot my butt into the chair, so as to be sitting on my butt and not on the tail bone.
Over time, three months to be exact, the way I sat evolved. People around me noticed and said you look good. You are holding yourself well. Something seemed to have changed in my gait too. I used to be those that wore 3.5 inch heels to work (I still do, sometimes). Now I am able to hold myself tall even on flat heeled footwear.
This got me thinking. What changed?
As a behavioural skills trainer, I am acutely attuned to people’s changes in behaviour. What changes? What triggers the change? Is the change sustainable? Is all change always mindful? Can some changes be unconscious and yet productive? How can one induce unconscious change in behaviour?
I look back to the time that I spent with my trainer Ms. Sangeeta Sundaram on this. She would come to each of us, make us feel the movement, help us experience the relief before moving onto the next student. She made us FEEL the changes. With the tail exercise, she also gave me a visualisation tool. Funny at first and that’s why even easier to remember. .
10 hours over 3 days isn’t really a long time; but I seem to remember that each day I felt tired and hungry at the end of the workshop. This isn’t a physically taxing workshop, to the naked eye. But to the students, every minute of practice was an effort. Holding your muscles, feeling your weight on your heels and not on your toes, the disbelief when you realize that your toes, knees, pelvis and glutes work in sync to hold you up; all of these were practice sessions. The workshop was flecked with many such sessions.
- She broke down the steps into many smaller steps
- She made us feel each of the tiny steps
- She made us practice, till some bit of it became muscle memory
To answer my own questions, change comes through practice. It comes through first hand experience. My trainer didn’t give me an Individual Development Plan at the end of the workshop; she gave me the tools for change and a textbook for reference. During the workshop, she helped me through the experiences. And though not all of it, and not immediately, the changes that we practiced have stayed with me. I am getting better at understanding my posture; it’s a work in progress.
*You can read the literature of the GMF at http://gokhalemethod.com/