Friday, May 16, 2008

Gesture With Your Hands, Not Your Head

By keeping the neck quiet, the head relatively motionless as we talk to people, we help reduce compression and pain in the neck vertebra. The hands are better able to express with gestures than our neck and head - the head is heavy! Almost as much as bowling ball. Just try holding a bowling ball in your hands and move it around, as if gesturing with your head. Even thinking about that makes my arms tired. 

This little trick has helped many of my clients move out of neck pain. It is the first thing I look for with a new client, who complains of neck pain. At first it takes an act of conscious will to keep the head from gesturing as we talk to people. As you persist in practicing this, you'll gradually learn to simply relax the neck, instead of tensing it to avoid moving it. Then you'll know the pleasure of having a "quiet neck." It was such a relief, when I first learned that. 

Gesturing with the head, nodding "yes" or turning the head to say "no" is OK if it is done gently, slowly, and not habitually while talking to someone. The problem comes when it gets to be an unconscious habit, and the head is constantly in motion while talking to people.  That's a nervous habit, and very damaging. It seems to be something that is supposed to communicate "I hear you, I am paying attention to you, I am responding to you so intensely that I am even abusing my own neck just for you". That is probably not the body language we intend to communicate but that message is definitely there if the head is over-active during conversation. As I tell my clients, if you don't know how to gesture with your hands, just watch any Italian - they are masters!

A quiet head and restful neck communicates poise and confidence. A pointlessly busy head and neck communicates just the opposite. 

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