I just love the photo in the March 20 issue of the News-Bulletin of Belen High School golfer Jaime Pacheco. The caption describes her use of “body English” to coax the ball into the cup.
Body English — now there’s Guest Column fodder for you. We see body English all the time. Golfers, bowlers and hitters of all variety use body English to supply from the divine what they may not have physically provided. Any athlete whose sport requires them to take an action and wait for a (hopefully) desired outcome often applies the totally useless act of body English to try to influence the motion. Everyone knows that those efforts are in vain because, once the follow-through is completed, the outcome is totally out of the actor’s control.
Nonetheless, we all like to think that we can exert a bit of karmic influence to help “will” the ball into the cup, between the goal posts or wherever we launched it. We believe that our body English is akin to placing our body in the path so as to influence the energy that is causing the motion – to give the force a bit of a “push” in the right direction.
While the notion of putting ourselves in the path of a flow of energy in order to influence the outcome is fascinating, fun and great for sports photos and segments on “The Planet’s Funniest Home Videos,” the other side of this particular coin has implications much more profound and far-reaching.
The photographic negative of the above scenario is when a person uses body English to actually stand in the way of, and thus impede, their own progress. Let me offer an example.
I teach a class at the University of New Mexico-Valencia Campus entitled “Finding Your Mathematical Voice.” Many of the students in that class have what could be characterized as classic Math Anxiety. For any one of a number of reasons, their brains have been hard-wired for failure in mathematics.
We’ve been discussing this topic for several weeks now and have come to the conclusion that, while the cause of their anxiety may have come from people and forces outside themselves, their current fears and attitudes towards mathematics are now decidedly their own – that they are what stands between themselves and success in mathematics.
And now we arrive on the doorstep of the dark side of body English. My students have not one, but two “balls” to deal with. One is their ball of math anxieties, and the other is the power that they possess to overcome their attitudes and allow themselves to enjoy the success they so richly deserve. My students, while trying to avoid being hit yet again by their ball of anxieties, are using their own version of attitudinal body English to position themselves squarely in the path of the energy of success!
Simply put, my students came to see that they were using their mental/emotional body English to stand in their own way, and that, in order to allow the flow of positive energy that would enable them to have success in mathematics, they needed to get out of the way and stop blocking the flow. Happily, many are succeeding.
Now, think of the implications of this sinister form of body English on a broader scale. How many of us are standing in our own life’s way? How many of us, when faced with situations in our lives that appear at first to be difficult to resolve, find, in time, that we were not allowing the positive resolution to happen because we were standing in the way, blocking the same flow of success energy that my students so dearly seek?
When I find myself using my own emotional or intellectual body English to block success or freedom in my life, I yell at myself “Get out of the way!” And when I decide to let success happen, it does.
(Editor’s note: J. Reid Mowrer teaches at the Valencia Campus, is an attorney and does not suffer from math anxiety.)
How many of us, when faced with situations in our lives that appear at first to be difficult to resolve, find in time that we were not allowing the positive resolution to happen because we were standing in the way, blocking the same flow of success energy that my students so dearly seek?