Aaron Alexander thinks our bodies speak more than one language – and depending on how connected you are to its pain and joy, you may not be able to understand what it’s telling you. And then how will you know when you’re aligned and when you’re not? How will you read the signal?
Alignment isn’t just a yoga buzzword – it means a lot more than that, and it’s informed by more than how advanced your practice is.
Aaron, a good friend of mine, made it his life’s work. Aaron was a bodybuilder long before he developed the “Align” method. (The eponymous title of his book, out for over a year now.)
And his journey to bodybuilding ended up affecting how he would pivot away from it much more than he thought it would.
He gets into great detail about it during his hour with me on The Urban Monk Podcast , but he brought up two points that really set me to thinking…
- Men feel the truth of Aaron’s theory even more than women. We’ve created a culture where vulnerability is so prohibited for men that they’ve lost access to what happens when you let your guard down. It also means they’ve developed pretty sophisticated compensatory methods for masking their pain.
- This has to do with how unacceptable we find being physically touched.
That bit – the bit about closing ourselves off to being touched – is so much more important than we realize.
The Senses and the Nervous System
Your nervous system runs your consciousness, your body systems, and your perception. Nothing you do happens without the nervous system.
And we feed it information primarily through our senses – touch, sight, smell. For plenty of reasons that have nothing to do with castrating our nervous systems, touch is stigmatized in our world.
We feel like we have to qualify why we crave it, and don’t often think to consult our touch-o-meter when our physicality suffers. (Covid-19’s year-without-touch might have changed that for some people!)
Aaron tries to do something I think is really noble (and helpful)…
He tries to look at all adults as if they’re their kid-selves wearing a very clever adult costume.
That’s what we’re all doing anyway, right? Just pretending that we’ve learned healthy ways to metabolize our hurt when in reality, most of us use physicality to mask and distract from our internal wounds…
And use our internal wounds to mask and distract from our physicality. (When was the last time you sat with pain instead of popping a couple of NSAIDs to make it go away so you didn’t have to be bothered by checking in with your physical body?)
Can We Blame the West?
Even though he thinks it’s a little misguided to blame all of our problems on Western culture, he does bring up a really interesting point about why he feels like we’re all children who are pretending not to be:
We infantilize our kids here.
We teach kids to be as disconnected from their senses as we are – think about a kid who hasn’t yet internalized our toxic teachings and how aware they are of their surroundings and their bodies.
Because we do that, ostensibly for their own safety so that they don’t get hurt or learn hard lessons, they grow up to be…
And what’s unique about us? We’ve forgotten certain lessons that people all over the world know.
What Our Eyes and Backs Notice
You might not know this, but the way you engage your sight actually affects the nervous system.
Not just affects, but dictates.
From a survival standpoint, honing your eyesight keeps your nervous system is primed and ready for anything… right? That’s because you’re telling it to engage its sympathetics and high alert.
And we know what happens when you don’t take it out of high alert… it just stays there, causing all sorts of stress.
Until we disengage, of course, by using our eyes in a panoramic manner – looking around aimlessly, being aware of our peripherals, feeding our brain images without urgency.
That’s when you lock into your parasympathetics. But what are we doing with our eyes all day?
Screen, screen… screen… work… engagement… focus… screen…
We’re also sitting in chairs, which Aaron spends good time debunking – almost every culture in the world that isn’t riddled with osteoarthritis of the hips and the knees connects with the ground.
They eat on the ground, rest on the ground, sit on the ground, squat above the ground, sleep on the ground.
When we don’t our pelvises stabilize, we create a disconnect in your spinal column, “your nervous system down-regulates power output because it doesn’t trust you.”
And why should it? That’s how people get hurt!
Tune in to hear the full interview where Aaron gets into:
- Being applauded for overcompensation, rather than celebrated for all the parts of you.
- What happens when you need your children to participate in everyday life.
- Why you shouldn’t isolate nutrition to only mean “diet” – it includes movement, too!
- What you can do right now to start strengthening your spine and realigning your body.
- The big two factors in communication incongruences.
- Why he chose his mantra – ”I am 100% responsible” – and what it’s done for him.
- How to make sure you’re building hormetic stress into your world.
- And plenty more!