Verbal language vs body language

Many years ago I was advised by a martial arts teacher to pay a lot more attention to what people do, rather than what they say. This advice was given to me as I was having difficulties with one of my teachers. My teacher at that time appeared rather cold and unfriendly towards me. I didn’t understand it. I knew the teacher had a bit of social anxiety, but still I took things personally, particularly because I was an incredibly hard working student. 

My martial arts teacher asked me many questions about our interactions, and during the discussion I realized that though this teacher was not « warm and fuzzy, » she had gone out of her way to create opportunities for me. I was astounded at how I did not realize or fully appreciate the great opportunities she provided me with, but was only looking for words.

I love words, and have more than once fallen for relationships with those with a « silver tongue. » There are some who are congruent in both word and deed, or course, but it is most interesting to notice when someone, or we ourselves, are not. In aikido, we call this mind/body unification (or lack thereof). 

I have always been interested in body language, and took courses in micro expressions for a time (as taught by Paul Eckman). Given that over ninety per cent of our communications are non verbal, it seemed like a great tool to understand others better.

Horses, and all animals, read our true intent by our body, expression, and energy. It is interesting to watch videos of public figures, and try to ascertain their true expression. Is what they say and present congruent? I suppose it would take an enormous amount of expertise to really read this well, so while I wouldn’t recommend a flippant conclusion, it is an interesting experiment. 

In regards to my previous blog, I mentioned I was listening a whole lot more, and learning a lot in the process. A whole day may go by with me not speaking a word, if I am working with horses and not my music students. I wonder how much the horses and other animals around me are noticing about my body language. You can’t fake your state of mind.

Horses will read the truth about us, and probably in a subconscious manner, so do other humans. I will never be an expert in body language in comparison with a horse, and I shudder to think what they know about me that I don’t know myself. 

If you feel like you are bummed out, tired, or ineffective, which in this crazy time we are all going through, try imagining yourself as your favorite athlete or teacher-someone really effective and pro at what they do. For me, it might be my aikido sensei’s or one of my horsemanship teachers. Imagine them, and try on what you imagine is their body language. It might just change your emotions.