The Approach: Healthy Sitting Posture at Work

Last night in the final class of Compassion & Vitality, one student brought in their computer and we re-created her work set up. She wanted to know how could she work without so much pain and stress? Just re-creating her office set up brought on waves of dread. We began with “The Approach.” It was a simple experiment – could we change her working physical patterns (and her dread) by approaching her activity differently?

Rather than plop down in the chair and breathlessly begin working as she had done previously, I asked her to momentarily step out of the room and then return. I wanted her to hit the reset button. Then, I advised her to think of herself as a famous concert pianist who’s walking across the stage towards her piano. Without any further prompting, there she was, striding upright, almost aloof towards her computer. Like the concert pianist, she will start working on her computer when she is composed and ready. She has tamed it. What she has tamed is an expectation that we must immediately get busy when we step near our computer.

When the applause died down from her good-natured classmates, she took her seat and let herself breathe a couple times. Then she let her fingertips lead the way to the keys, again, with elegance. The masterful pianist never compromises themselves to play at the piano. The Alexander Technique teacher at Juilliard Conservatory, Lori Schiff, tells her first-year students that they are the first instrument, and the piano is the second instrument.

The other students in the class were amazed when they saw the transformation that happened in this woman working at her computer. Just by changing her approach to the desk, she embodied so much poise and alertness. She said, today, she would think of that applause as she stands in front of her desk, demonstrating her mastery of her instrument.

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