16: Stacy Sims on Somatics: Why How You Sit Might Cause Stress

Did you know that just the way you sit might be causing anxiety? Or that by straightening your spine and scanning the horizon you can calm your central nervous system, just as deer in the savannah do?

Stacy Sims, founder of True Body Project, is an expert on somatics, or how our physical and psychological bodies relate to one another. I had the great fortune of stumbling across her workshop in Bali when we were both there in 2013, and we have kept in touch since.

In this week’s podcast she shares her story of recovering from alcoholism through body awareness and movement practices. Stacy describes why if your body is holding stress—even just sitting in a certain positions that visually mimic those of tension, fear or depression—your emotions and thoughts will create a story to match.

For example, if you furrow your brow, try to think happy thoughts (it does not work). If you smile, try to think of something negative (it is very difficult). If you curl your body into a tight ball (or even sit hunched over), try to think of something exciting—notice how you start to feel very tense. Conversely, if you widen across your collarbones, sit up straight, lift the crown of your head and lengthen your spine, see if you do not feel instantly lighter and calmer.

Take a listen to our hour-long chat on iTunesSoundCloud, or Overcast: