Posture And Carriage
( Originally Published 1930 )
It is human nature to judge our fellow men principally upon their personal appearance. The first impression is usually the most vital, for, through it alone, we frequently stand or fall in the eyes of the world. Personal appearance is all that man has to recommend himself until an opportunity is offered for some display of character. There is nothing more impressive than a fine physique, or a fine personal appearance. Character stands forth represented in a hundred little ways in the physical body, in the facial expressions and in behavior. Erect posture, an easy graceful carriage, and a poised gracious manner are representative of self-culture, education and self-respect.
A continual effort toward self-improvement will many times spell success in dollars and sense.
It is unfortunate but too often true that the majority of persons place small confidence in those whose personal appearance is against them. Faulty posture, slovenly dress, careless grooming, uncouth manners, and eccentric habits are naturally repugnant. Nine times out of ten these traits are taken for symbols of the character beneath. In addition to this, incorrect posture inflicts a heavy strain upon the entire organism, crowding the vital organs, restraining the free circulation of blood and nerve currents, and placing the individual far below par. As a result, irritability and ill health eventually make their appearance. But the person does not live who could not improve his personal appearance and attributes if he would. An attractive personality is largely due to persistent effort and self-education along culture lines.
If you will stand in the manner usually taught, back rigidly erect, knees, hips, and neck firm, chest held high, shoulders squared, head up and chin in, with abdomen retracted, then try to jump, you will find that you must relax from this strained attitude before you can make a move ! This will serve to illustrate why the Indians consider the white man's posture ridiculous. Indians tell me that they cannot bear to have their children taught such an absurd posture in their schools, it is so strained, awkward and useless.
How Indians Stand
The Indian's posture is always flexible, easy and graceful. He does not have to relax in order to make a move for he is always ready for instant action. He wastes no energy in holding himself unnaturally, and no time in changing his position or muscular control for action. His carriage is natural, like that of the animals. Taking his lessons from Nature he has observed that the pliancy of the willow tree, while apparently a weakness, is in reality the key to its strength and endurance. The flexible branch bends in the gale, offering little opposition, while the stiff and sturdy branch is snapped off and destroyed by the storm, a victim to its own resistance.
Definite instructions follow, telling just how to obtain and maintain a correct posture, according to the Indian's ideal. Both his posture and carriage are scientifically adapted to weight placement, balance, complete flexibility, muscle control, and impulsions. They serve to prevent curvature of the spine, broken arches, various forms of neurasthenia, and headache, as well as many stomach and intestinal disorders. The American Indian employs these principles of posture and carriage in all his movements a,t all times. In addition he opens up certain channels that mentally control his body.
The effects of correct posture and carriage upon the body, nerves, and mind are of such vital importance that they can hardly be over-estimated. Many valuable things are known and carefully taken into account by the Indians, though they appear to be quiet and unassuming. A discovery was made by them, or handed down from their ancestors, which is of very great value to us—the control of the physical body through the powers of mind. They are even able to control many of the so-called involuntary muscles of the body. They realized the absolute necessity of physical coordination in order to gain such control. They discovered that in order to attain any degree of mental efficiency there must be no hindrance through any of the channels that lead from the brain to the body or back again from the body to the brain. They found that the placement of head, neck, spine, nerve plexes, legs, and feet should all conform to a true and perfect alignment, with each other, and with the center of gravity. Also that this alignment—together with the weight placement, balance and carriage—should be adjusted to the center of gravity and the ground according to very exact laws. They believed that any distortion of posture, any wrong placement of weight, any lack of balance or poise, had a subtle effect upon the brain and hence upon the mind. They found, furthermore, that any inhibition to the free circulation of the blood, nerve or etheric currents in the body would immediately react upon the brain, producing mental deficiency. They believed, too, that mental processes act directly upon the body, for health or for inharmony, and in just such proportion as the aforesaid alignment or misalignment permits. There-fore, they believed that the mind cannot act with any degree of accuracy through a nervous system or brain whose functions are in any way impeded, since they are the vehicles, or instruments, for the expressions of mind in, and upon, the body.