Strong back, soft front

“By practicing a physically ‘strong back, soft front’ posture, we can get a feeling of what it is like to be inwardly strong and at the same time gentle on a psychological level.”

Dear Toby,

This weeks article looks considers how physical posture can invite psychological change, and how you can cultivate real inner strength.
Final meditation for the year is the Winter solstice meditation this Tuesday and Wednesday evening. All are invited!

In the spirit of  strength and gentleness,


Strong back, soft front

Traditional meditation posture involves sitting up straight, with an unsupported back. The head and neck are above the chest and shoulders, chest above the belly, belly sitting above the hips, like a stack of bricks. One reason for this is that meditation is about alertness as much as relaxation. If you lean against something, it may be relaxing, but the danger of your alertness dipping increases. So we can sit upright to cultivate this balance of relaxation and alertness upon which all effective meditation and mindfulness relies.

Soft front, strong back
As you are sitting up straight with a strong back, you can also deliberately soften the front of your body, the chest, belly and face. So you have a soft front, backed up by a strong backbone. This can be a physical posture that reminds us of how to be in life; we can present a gentle, restrained face to the world, because we know we are strong inside. Because we are inwardly strong, we are confident enough to be gentle outside (unless it is appropriate not to be so for a specific reason).

Armoring the front to hide a weak back
Often in life our position is the opposite of strong back, soft front. We feel afraid and insecure on the inside (weak back), and so to compensate we present a strong, armored, even aggressive front to the world to compensate. This affects our sense of who we are, and how other people experience us. By practicing the ‘strong back, soft front’ posture, we can get a bodily feeling of what it is like to be inwardly strong and at the same time gentle on a psychological level.

Spend a little time each day sitting with a strong back and soft front. Let your body learn to recognize what this feels like. As you go about your daily activities, experiment with what it is like to feel strong inside and so gentle on the outside. Try talking and acting from this place in your relationships and in the way that you interact with the world. Notice how this changes how you participate in your life, and the opportunities for creative change it opens for you.

Article content © Toby Ouvry & Integral Meditation Asia 2019.

Upcoming classes and workshops

Ongoing on Wednesday’s, 7.30-8.30pm (Restarts 21st August) – Wednesday Meditation for stress transformation and positive energy with Toby (Bukit Timah)

Ongoing on Tuesday evenings (Restarts 13th August), 7.30-8.30pm – Tuesday Meditation for stress transformation and positive energy with Toby  (East Coast)

Tuesday 12.30-1.30 – Integral Meditation classes at Space2B on Stanley Street

Tuesday and Wednesday 17,18 December – Winter solstice balancing & renewing meditation

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