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The Bodywork Perspective – The Shoulders - page 4


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Shoulder Zone, including jaw and shoulder blades

Well, there’s a bunch of stuff here. Shoulders (and the throat and jaw) make up a "diaphragm," – a band of blockage, if you will, that has to do with the expression of your personality – what you’ll let yourself show the world of yourself. Remember that the neutral posture places the head centrally over the shoulders.

Go back to the "side, neutral position" to review.


The Jaw

bodywork rigid jaw

The Rigid, Locked Jaw

Rigid Jaw – many people have been taught, "If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything." What this really meant was, "Don’t say things I don’t want you to say." So, most of us learned to stifle comments. We also learned to tighten the jaw to repress our feelings and our passions. (My favourite illustration is the couple having sex, but being quiet so as not to "disturb the children.")

In a rigid jaw, the teeth seem locked together. The way past this is through massaging the jaw points, and through flexing and relaxing the jaw.

In the kind of breathing we teach, the mouth should be open far enough to insert three fingers, one on top of the other. Two, for sure. Many people can’t (won’t) open their mouths that far. If they do, sound comes out on the out breath, and they get "uptight." So, test yourself, and see if you can easily open your mouth. Without discomfort.

Next, massage the jaw joint firmly. You should be able to apply inward pressure to the joint muscles with only mild discomfort. Most people "light up" from the pain they feel in the jaw muscle. This is the result of "biting off" their words – not speaking their minds. The unspoken words are trapped in the jaw muscles.


neutral jaw

The Neutral Jaw

Neutral Jaw—is flexible and pain-free. As described above, the neutral jaw is easily opened, and massaging the jaw points (marked in purple on the picture) is only a little painful.

Another way to check the jaw status is to slide your fingers along the edge of the jaw (marked in lime) — the thumbs along the bottom edge and the index finger along the edge. Again, there should be little or no pain.


The Shoulders

bodywork shoulder and jaw zone

Shoulders in Neutral Position

Neutral shoulders - review the posture we described above – standing against a wall, shoulders touching, then cross hands over crotch. The shoulders will round forward just slightly.

Shoulders are relaxed, with no apparent tightness, twisting, drooping, or tilt. They are flexible, and the arms seem well attached to the body.

Neutral shoulders are functional shoulders.


shoulders down

Drooping Shoulders

Shoulders drooping – weight of the world is on my shoulders – when you assume this posture, you just want to sigh.

This position is adopted by people who are over - responsible. There are people and unresolved situations locked into the shoulders—and the situations are always external. In other words, people who take on the burden of others are doomed to failure, as the solution lies with the other.

However, the "drooper" forms a "helper" identity, and gets caught in the game of the other—effectively assuming responsibility and letting the other person off the hook. No wonder such people sigh a lot!


bodywork widows hump

The Widow's Hump

Widow’s hump—an exaggerated rounding over of the shoulders when seen from the back.

This posture takes a lot of time to develop, and flows from drooped shoulders. Not only is this person carrying others, they’re wearing a back-pack up there to hold more. It's as if the initial over-responsibility did not work, so the person decides that they should become even more responsible—for everyone else, to the exclusion of their own wants and needs.

Or, personal wants and needs are "snuck in," and the person hopes no one notices. Thus, the worst thing you can say to a deeply over-responsible person with a widow's hump is, "You are so selfish!"


bodywork shoulders turtle

Turtling Posture

Shoulders to the ears—turtle position. Maybe if I just hide, no one will notice me.

People who are in this position are scared, and try to duck their heads to be safe.

Typically, they see the world as quite threatening, and are used to being yelled at or otherwise strongly punished.

This is a coping mechanism to stop others from "taking their heads off."


bodywork shoulders rounded
hunched shoulders
Hunched, bordering on Widow's Hump, plus shoulders forward.

Shoulders rounded (hunched) forward

Shoulders rounded forward—I don’t want to be hurt again.

The person thinks that they have been betrayed—have had their heart broken.

The shoulders are rolled to the front, in an attempt to protect the heart.

This person wants to be loved, but is afraid of being open and vulnerable. Approaches life cautiously, and from a position of weakness.

The picture to the right shows both hunched and rounded forward shoulders, which are the mark of past defeats coupled with "protecting the heart."


bodywork shoulders back

Shoulders pulled back

Shoulders back – military posture. I can take it—I’m tough.

Pulling your shoulders back leads to an armored chest, which is designed to protect the heart. Because the posture "freezes" the breastbone, there is a tendency to be quite stuck in non-emotion.

Military posture conveys a sense of invulnerability—you can’t hurt me. By extension, you also can’t get to me. I’m unavailable for depth and intimacy. Possible repressed anger. Great rigidity in belief, and an unwillingness to express emotions.


shoulders uneven

Shoulders not level

One shoulder higher than the other, or one shoulder father forward than the other –

This indicates an imbalance in Yin / Yang. The person’s approach to life is too heavily one or the other, not equal.

If the right shoulder is high or forward, too Yang or masculine. If left, to yin or feminine.

In a sense, the trick is to learn to "see" neutral, and then to decide if a side is neutral, and therefore, the other side is excessive or deficient.


shoulder blades

Shoulder Blades

Shoulder blades – this one’s a bit subjective. Go to the beach and look at backs. Shoulder blades should be visible, but not pronounced. If they’re really sticking out, the person is "sprouting wings" in order to leave a situation.

This is the mark of a person who escapes rather than working things through. The escape may be mental as well as actually running (flying) away.



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