Internal Image and Physical Reality

Know it or not, you have an internal image of your physical self. It resides in the unconscious brain. If that image doesn’t match reality, the stage is set for stress and tension. A valuable health practice is harmonizing the internal and external.

Consider a man who internally pictures himself as taller than he is. In order to project more height, he might try pulling upward out of his feet by over-tightening the legs. Soon enough, his legs will become thin and painful. In addition, he might also hold his head back so that his “level gaze” is elevated, and he looks at taller people “straight in the eye”. That tilts the head downward in back and compresses the neck/head junction. Of course, neither unconscious strategy works. They are forms of self-delusion.

Internal images can have emotional/attitudinal components. For example, a worker in an unsatisfying position might project happiness to keep the job. But look at his/her feet, and the message is different. Most of the body weight probably lies in front of the feet, like somebody trying to run away. There’s a similarity to a track runner at the starting block, listening for the start gun. This person probably wonders why his feet and ankles hurt.

Self-image disharmony leads to mis-use of the body and creates pain. Fortunately, harmony helps repair the symptoms. Note that the word “cure” is not used here. When a physical body is returned to “as-designed” operation, no cure is needed.

Introspection and mindfulness are useful for harmonizing internal image and physical reality. But as a practical tool, physical alignment is hard to beat. Physical alignment is achieved by relaxing, which means “letting weight fall”.

Rather than holding yourself up, let your body weight drop. Don’t worry, you won’t fall because your vertical centerline will experience a lift. In the process of practicing this, mismatched images come into focus, and they can be dismissed as unproductive.

Zen practitioners offer useful advice. They say –

never project an image because you will become a slave to that image, and

be the same person in private and public.

Being yourself is a health practice.


Jack Menear