So, what is attitude? Is it a thing of the mind or is it a thing of the body? Normally, we would define attitude as a thing of the mind. Yet, taking a closer look at attitude shows that it is a manifestation of both body and mind coming together. It's the very 'spirit' of the body-mind connection expressed in daily life.
The definition of attitude doesn't only depend on how or what you think - it consists in how you use your body as well. Attitude is an expression of both body and mind - inseparable.
In some body-mind Japanese wisdom traditions, such as in Zen and the Martial Arts, there are important teachings around what is known as 'kamae' or posture. These refer not only to the physical posture of one's body but also to a state of mind that accompanies each specific posture.
When working on the posture of your body, you also work on a 'posture of the mind'. The opposite applies as well. By working on a 'posture of the mind' you also help cultivate a posture of the body. Try the following experiment to get a feeling for this...
What is the attitude of pride or arrogance?
Let's take a few moments to 'step into' an attitude of pride or arrogance. Go ahead and try it. Imagine the feeling of pride or arrogance rising up inside you. Welcome it. Feel it. Allow yourself to fully embody it for a few moments. Become arrogant or prideful.
What do you feel happens with your physical body? How does it express the state of mind or 'mental posture' of arrogance? Do you feel like extending and straightening your spine? Do you feel like thrusting your chin up into the air? What about your chest and shoulders - are they caving in or are the shoulders pulled back and your chest thrust out? What are you doing with your eyes? Are they looking to the ground or straight ahead?
Ok. Now come back to your normal self.
Next, try the following. Tuck your chin into your chest, curve and bend your spine, let your shoulders and chest cave in, bend your neck and look down to the ground. Good. Now try to bring back the feeling, the 'mental posture' of arrogance that you just embodied a minute ago. Try to feel it, to bring it to mind, to embody it as best you can without changing your posture.
It can't be done, can it? You simply can't feel arrogant without the body posture that allows it. Amazing, isn't it?! The posture of the body wasn't compatible with the 'posture of mind' that you were trying to generate. This is the body mind connection at work. The definition of attitude isn't purely mental or purely physical. What is attitude if not an expression of body and mind, united.
Can we think ourselves into a positive attitude for life? Perhaps. We can certainly try. Yet, attitude isn't only of the mind. Attitude is what happens at the very juncture of the mind body connection.
Developing a positive attitude for life requires both thought and action. It's not only how we think - it's also how we move and how we hold ourselves. A positive attitude can't only be a thought away. But it can most definitely be a thought and action away.
For more on the Mind-Body Connection