Corporalita – “ The cultivation of grace, ambidexterity, fitness and poise”

The last time I voluntarily read a science journal was for an honours credit class in Astro Physics, way back in my college days. A rescheduled meeting at a bioscience company left me waiting several minutes and exposed, after so many years, to a bunch of science journals and no other reading material. Reluctantly I fingered them and had almost resigned myself to boredom, when an article on multiple personalities caught my attention. Outside of all the research data and new findings on schizophrenia (more commonly called Multiple Personality Disorder), there was a curious and actually unbelievable case study by psychiatrist Bennett Braun who describes the case of Timmy.

As we all know Multiple personality disorder is a neurological disorder characterised by the presence of two or more distinct personality identities in the same person. Each may have a unique name, personal history and characteristics. This case study was about Timmy who had multiple personalities. One personality was allergic to orange juice, and when this personality drank orange juice, Timmy would break into blistering hives. However, another personality would be able to drink orange juice quite uneventfully and with no allergic reaction whatsoever. If the allergic personality was in the midst of an allergy attack and he shifted back to the non-allergic personality, the hives would disappear instantly.

Fascinating! The power of the mind! While all the doctors in the world can research and list down a thousand data points to pinpoint the exact metabolic and chemical factions leading to this sort of an allergy to orange juice, a subconscious switch to the other personality of this boy, could make the hives disappear. There is but only one conclusion to this – that the mind has more control over the body than we can even begin to fathom.

Research has found that the mind and body have a curious synergy and they can effect and be affected by one another.

Negative thoughts and feelings takes it’s toll on one’s health, this we all know. But our body, how we carry it, how we care for it and it’s well being has a direct effect on our mind.

There now is ongoing research on how our body postures and body image affects how we see ourselves and how others perceive us. Research is also establishing that altering our body postures and language can alter our body chemistry. Social psychologist Amy Cuddy argues that “power posing” — standing in a posture of confidence, even when we don’t feel confident — can boost feelings of confidence, and can impact our chances for success.

An early proponent of this theory of how our body postures, gait and poise affect our mind was Leonardo Da Vinci. His notebooks give us an insight into his mercurial mind that was curious and fascinated by almost everything in this world. Da Vinci’s seven principles, as listed by Micheal Gelb includes “Corporalita” which means “ The cultivation of grace, ambidexterity, fitness and poise”

Da Vinci believed that in order for one to be creative we must pay attention to our body. We must mindfully work on our posture, carry ourselves with more grace and have a fitness regime. He also advices that each of us must strive to be ambidextrous… i.e develop the ability to use both hands. It is said that Da Vinci could draw with one hand and write backwards with the other. All of his note books are written backwards with mirror images of the words. Da Vinci professed that by pushing the physical limits of the body the creative side of the mind develops. The more creative the mind is the less we are boxed within constructs of perceived roadblocks and constraints, thus leading to creative decision making and more satisfying interactions with our teams and more holistic experiences.

Today’s genius strives for a healthy body that complements a healthy mind. So take a leaf out of Da Vinci’s book and take time to empower your body to support your powerful mind and feed your mind with positivity, passion and zest to find physical vigour and agility.