The Physical Posture of Surrender

I read once that changing posture can change emotions, and alter what is chemically happening in the brain.

For example, standing up straight with good posture can make a person feel positive and confident. Slouching over can drain energy and bring on a feeling of depression.

This fascinated me. I think everyone wants to be happy and feel better about life, but standing up straight is not usually the way we go about achieving these things.

That little tidbit of information stayed tucked away in my brain, and suddenly came out in a question one night: Could the same be true for spirituality? Does my posture affect how I feel about God and where my my relationship is at with Him?


The reason this question came up was because I was participating in a worship event, and while I was praying quietly, I felt the urge to kneel. As I knelt there, my conversation with God turned in the direction of confessing and surrendering to God, and I felt as though I should hold out my hands, palms down – as a way of laying down everything before God that I had been hanging on to tightly and rebelliously.

I’ve never done that before, and it was such a powerful experience – it seemed to go on and on, as one thing after another bubbled to the surface, and I became increasingly aware of the areas of my life that I needed to surrender and lay down.

Finally, my mind and heart seemed to still, and I felt the urge to turn my hands over – palms up, to receive all that God was pouring out onto me. This, too, seemed to go on for a long time, as I waited silently before God, allowing Him to give to me everything I needed in that moment, to worship and be still before Him.

Now, all this is coming from someone who doesn’t usually get physically expressive about worship. It does not come naturally to me, although I have been learning a little bit about becoming a more free with it, in the privacy of my kitchen, when everyone else is fast asleep.;)

But all this makes me wonder – when we are told to bow down in worship to God, is it more than just a physical act for us? Did God create us in a way that makes it go beyond simply being a physical expression of worship, humility, and surrender? Does it change the way we feel about God? Can it change the way we think about Him?

Because if, like straightening our posture, using our bodies to express ourselves to God could affect us on a spiritual, emotional level, this would be enough to lure me away from what can be stiff, restricted expressions of worship.

It feels strange at first – I’ve been experimenting in small bits, and this physical expression can feel as foreign as pulling back my shoulders and standing up straight. Correct posture uses muscles I’m not accustomed to using, but it’s a habit which can be changed – muscles can be strengthened. Can my ability to let go, and find more freedom in physical expression of worship also be strengthened, and become an ingrained habit?

I’m curious…

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