A few notes on posture



“Every race, every nation, every epoch, every country, every class and every profession has its own limited number of postures from which it can never depart and which represents the particular style of the given epoch, race or profession. Every man, according to his individuality, adopts a certain number of postures from the style available to him, and therefore each individual has an extremely limited repertory of postures…

The style of the movements and postures of every epoch, every race and every class is indissolubly connected with distinctive forms of thought and of feeling. And they are so closely bound together that a man can change neither the form of his thought nor the form of his feeling without having changed his repertory of postures.

The forms of thought and feeling may be called postures of thought and feeling. Every man has a definite number of intellectual and emotional postures, just as he has a definite number of moving postures; and his moving, intellectual and emotional postures are all interconnected. Thus, a man can never get away from his own repertory of intellectual and emotional postures unless his moving postures are changed.

Psychological analysis and the study of the psychomotor functions, applied in a certain manner,
demonstrate that each of our movements, voluntary or involuntary, is an unconscious transition from one automatically fixed posture to another, equally automatic. It is an illusion that our movements are voluntary; in reality they are automatic. Our thoughts and feelings are equally automatic. And the automatism of our thoughts and of our feelings is definitely connected with the automatism of our movements. One cannot be changed without the other. And if, for instance, the attention of a man is concentrated on changing the automatism of thought, his habitual movements and postures will obstruct the new mode of thought by evoking old habitual associations. We do not recognize to what an extent the intellectual, emotional and moving functions are mutually dependent, although, at the same time, we can be aware of how much our moods and emotional states depend on our movements and postures…

Since all the functions of man—intellectual, emotional and moving—possess their own definite repertory of postures and are in constant reciprocal action, it follows that a man can never depart from his own repertory.

From “Views from the Real World,” G. I. Gurdjieff, Triangle Editions 1973. pgs 155-58, “The Stop Exercise.” 

This excerpt has been edited for brevity.