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I grew up with a chip on my shoulder. It sometimes felt real, my shoulder up and pulled in a bit, as if I was balancing that little piece of anger/fear between my humerus and neck. In Catholic School, the nuns told us that each of us had an angel on the right shoulder and a devil on the left. I blamed this imp for my held, tense, left side, as well as my “bad” behavior that eventually led to unshed tears. It was like a gremlin riding my soma and my psyche.
The cold shoulder
In Darwin’s Expression of Emotion in Man and Animals, he attributes the term “cold shoulder” to a habit from childhood of using the shoulder to protect feelings. Francois Delsarte, a 19th Century teacher of body language, called the shoulders “the thermometers of the passions.” Ancient warriors called the left arm the “shield arm,” since they were trained to fight with the right hand. Do we carry that habit of shielding or protecting in our body memory?
Your shoulders carry emotions
Shoulders tighten in fear and anger, shake we laugh or sob. Our shoulders don’t simply carry tensions, they could become our emotional feedback device. Of course, sometimes the tension can become so habitual, our “chips” become invisible to us until there’s pain. What can we learn by studying the stories our shoulders are holding? What would happen if they let go?
Lavinia Plonka has spent a lifetime studying emotions. She was an Emmy nominated mime and Guggenheim Museum artist in residence before embarking on a career as a Feldenkrais teacher and romantic coach. Lavinia is an assistant trainer of Feldenkrais practitioners, with over 25 years of experience in the method. She is also a certified Alba teacher and an endorsed Emotional Body instructor. She has written several books with translations in 9 languages and teaches internationally.