In the previous lesson, we explored lifting your center of gravity as you stand and walk, using the front-to-back arrow. I also suggested you experiment with broadening the range of activities in which you use this technique. If you haven’t done so yet, I encourage you to do that. Climbing and descending a staircase and reaching for an object on a high shelf are good exercises.
Of course, the image you lift doesn’t have to be the arrow. You can use any of the three images described in Lesson 1 that appeal to you.
Don’t forget that the height of the image is two inches below your navel. This is important because of the tendency mentioned in Lesson 2 for people to think the center of gravity is located higher than it actually is.
Now let’s explore this lifting process when seated.
As before, if you have any concerns about the safety of doing this – perhaps because of recent surgery, chest pain, etc. – please consult your doctor first.
Start by sitting in a chair and mentally connect with your seated center of gravity – approximately at the height of the bottom of your sternum, as described in Lesson 3.
Now just as you simply lifted your overall center of gravity in the previous lesson, lift your seated center of gravity by contracting some muscles in that area of your body. The important factor is not the details of which muscles you actually tense, but the idea that you are actually lifting the arrow within your body.
Be very clear about your intent here: you’re lifting your seated center of gravity, not some other part of you. Of course, other parts of your body will change in response, but your role is to remain focused on lifting your seated center of gravity.
As with the lifting of your overall center of gravity, which we explored in the previous lesson, start with a small amount of lifting and then gradually increase it. The amount of time you do this lifting should be measured in seconds until you have become thoroughly familiar with the process and have used in for some time. Alternate between lifting and not lifting.
What do you notice when you lift your seated center of gravity and when you stop lifting it?
Experiment with shifting back and forth a few times so you can get a good sense of the changes when you lift your seated center of gravity and when you stop lifting it.
Pay particular attention to the effects on your chest, your shoulders, and your breathing.
Typically, students report that they feel taller, their breathing is fuller and easier, and that lifting the seated center of gravity lessens tightness in the chest. They often feel expanded and decompressed. When they stop lifting, they can sense their habitual patterns of sitting, which often include pulling the chest inward and downward into a slump.
Seated center of gravity lifting can be extremely useful for improving our overall health and well-being because so many of us spend so much time sitting, and because we usually compress ourselves more when we sit than at any other time,
As with center of gravity lifting while standing, walking etc., some of the most dramatic effects of seated center of gravity lifting occur when you use it to move.
Try this experiment. While sitting, mentally connect with your seated center of gravity using the back and forth line, extended forward and back from your chest, with imaginary arrow tips at both ends. Now lift the line and move the lifted line forward and backwards slightly each way. Then shift back to movements that don’t involve lifting. This is the same process you used in Lesson 3, the only difference being that now you’re experimenting with a lifted arrow.
Did you notice a difference?
Here’s an example of a situation when seated center of gravity lifting is useful. You may be sitting in a large group, such as at a concert or a movie, and sense that you’re slumping uncomfortably. However, you realize that it would disrupt others if you made any large movement to change that. When this happens, you can lift your seated center of gravity and then make a couple of very small forward and back movements to move out of the slump. These movements, which can be so small that nobody will notice, will do wonders for releasing the tension due to your slump.
Here’s a final experiment. Sit fairly far back in the chair. Picture the front-to-back arrow, lift it, and move it a little bit forward and then backward until your back gently touches the chair back, while continuing to lift the arrow. Now, let the arrow go and notice what happens to your torso.
You’re likely to feel an immediate downward movement which may be easier to notice when your back is in contact with the chair back. That gives you some idea of the pressure you have habitually placed on your body when sitting.
In the next lesson, we’ll explore the differences between the effects of lifting your center of gravity, and those of “standing up straight” and “sitting up straight.”
If you have any questions about this lesson, please post them in the comment box below. Also, I’d like to hear about your experiences using the exercises.
© 2012 Robert Rickover