Body Language: Speak Volumes Without Saying a Word

Believe it or not, most communication is nonverbal. Are you really saying what you think you’re saying? If you often find that people misunderstand you, perhaps your body language is communicating different thoughts than what your voice is saying!

Adjusting your body language can strengthen your communications and help you make a better impression in all kinds of social and professional settings. Facial expressions, hand gestures, and posture all communicate certain meanings. When your body language agrees with your words, what you say is much more powerful.

Whether you wonder what messages you’re sending with your body language or you just want some tips to brush up on your communication skills, here are some techniques you can try.

General Principles

  1. Match up your body and speech. To appear authentic, you want your body language and speech to be consistent. If you’re telling someone you enjoyed the date but you’re anxiously rubbing your forehead, you’ll create some doubts.
  2. Mirror others. When people are on the same page, they naturally start mimicking each other’s expressions and movements. You can make it easier to connect with people by doing this intentionally. Do this sparingly, though; too much mirroring and your efforts will start to look like a comedy routine.

  3. Double check your assumptions. As you become more knowledgeable about nonverbal messages, keep in mind that different causes can produce the same behavior. You may want to use additional cues to discern their real meaning.
  • For example, if someone is looking around the room while you talk, they may be bored with what you’re saying. Or they may be too tired to concentrate on anything. Or maybe they’re especially interested in the interior decorating! Asking them questions can lead you to the correct meaning of their body language.

Adjustments for Your Head

  1. Make eye contact. While there are cultural differences, subtle eye contact is often interpreted as being friendly and honest. Look people in the eye when you’re first introduced. As someone is talking, meet their eye from time to time to show interest, while also looking away for appropriate intervals to avoid staring.
  2. Hold your head up. Looking at the ground all the time may give people the impression you’re depressed or trying to avoid them. Keeping your head up enables you to look more approachable.
  3. Nod judiciously. Nod your head slightly to let someone know they have your attention and you agree with what they’re saying.
  4. Smile. A smiling face is your best asset, whether you’re at a job interview or trying to resolve a family conflict. Our relationships become more harmonious when we reassure people that we like them. Smiling is a primary way to do this.

Adjustments for Your Body

  1. Work on your hand shake. Palm to palm contact is the most important ingredient in your handshake. Ask a friend for their feedback to ensure your handshake sends the message you want.
  2. Control your hand gestures. Hand gestures can reinforce what you’re saying and make your presentations more effective. Make your gestures with confidence so you look composed and engaged.
  3. Stand straight and relaxed. Good posture has important health and social benefits. Press your navel against your lower back, open your chest and relax your shoulders. You’ll come across as open and self assured.
  4. Keep your arms and legs open. Crossing your arms and legs can seem defensive and distant. If you often adopt this position because your office is chilly, try wearing a sweater or a layer of long underwear instead.

  5. Slow down. We can easily get caught up in rushing from one task to the next. Pausing briefly or intentionally slowing down your movements can help you feel more poised.

  6. Lean forward. Inclining slightly toward someone is a great way to show that you like them and that you care about what they’re saying. Just facing someone while they talk can help. When you’re addressing a group, shift positions occasionally.

  7. Respect the personal space of others. Be sensitive to their comfort zones. Back up a little if you sense that someone is feeling crowded.

Body language is an important interpersonal skill. By taking conscious control of your nonverbal communication, you help yourself to feel more confident and you put others at ease.

Increasing Your Energy With Meditation

Juggling responsibilities at work and home can leave you feeling stressed out and fatigued. Meditation is a safe and effective way to rev up your energy levels. Here’s an explanation of how meditation gives you more energy and a sample meditation to get you started.

How Meditation Gives you More Energy

  1. Improve your posture. Straightening up will instantly make you feel more alert. Good posture helps protect your body from injury and chronic pain. Try pressing your abdomen in toward your back while relaxing your shoulders. Hold your head up high.
  2. Take full breaths. Stress can cause shallow chest breathing. This limits the oxygen flow to your brain and other organs. Slow down and breathe deeply from your abdomen. If you lie on your back, your body will automatically show you how.
  3. Reduce mental stress. In addition to reinforcing correct posture and breathing, meditation clears away mental stress by turning your mind toward more constructive purposes. 
  4. Sleep better. Many people suffer from sleep deprivation. A daily mediation practice will help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. Meditation can even reduce your need for sleep.
  5. Live in the present moment. Worries about the past and future can leave you feeling depleted, even if you send your body on vacation to a tropical beach. Mediation liberates your mind to focus on the present.
  6. Feel more motivated. It’s easy to feel energized when you love what you’re doing and believe that your hard work will pay off. Meditation will help you attain and prolong that state of mind even while you’re cleaning the toilet or paying your bills.

Sample Meditation for Boosting Your Energy Level

  1. Get into position. Find a comfortable position on a cushion or in a chair. Sit up straight. Draw slow, deep breaths up from your abdomen. Exhale through your nose keeping your mind on the spot where the air passes out of your nostrils.
  2. Scan your body. Scan your body from the top down. Notice any spots where you feel pain or tightness, without allowing them to disturb your practice.
  3. Scan your mind. Give your mind the same treatment. Observe your passing thoughts without pursuing them or making judgments.
  4. Welcome tensions into your heart. If you’re like most people, you may be wasting a lot of energy by trying to avoid the things you find unpleasant or fearful. Instead, bring them on. As you inhale, imagine all your anxieties coming to take shelter inside your heart.
  5. Apply compassion and healing. You can think about practical solutions later. For now, just view yourself and your difficulties with great compassion and the desire to heal.
  6. Send out purified thoughts. Imagine that you already have the power to transform all adversity. As you exhale, send your happy feelings out to create a positive environment for you and all creatures.
  7. Gradually ease out of meditation. Allow the good feelings you generated to last longer. Bit by bit, take more notice of your surroundings while retaining the intention of bringing more positive energy into all your activities.
  8. Dedicate your efforts. Take a moment to appreciate the benefits of your meditation in improving your outlook. Express the wish that these benefits will keep enriching your life and your connections with others.

Become more productive and enjoy greater peace of mind by using meditation to welcome more energy into your life. You’ll soon feel better and get more accomplished with less effort.

How to Sit Comfortably While Meditating

Learning to sit comfortably while meditating will help you welcome more relaxation and peace of mind into your life. If you’d like to start meditating but feel too uncomfortable to sit for long, these steps will help.

Steps to Take Between Your Meditation Sessions:

1.      Keep limber. It’s easier to sit comfortably if you work on improving your flexibility in advance. Many people use yoga to accomplish this, but any program of gentle stretching will help. Just remember to warm up first to prevent injury.

2.      Maintain a healthy body weight. Meditating can give you one more good reason to shed any excess pounds. You may feel more comfortable while meditating if you keep physically fit.

3.      Breathe deeply. Breathing correctly plays a major role in meditating. Make it a habit to breathe from your diaphragm so your abdomen falls and rises rather than your chest. Let the air flow through your nostrils instead of your mouth.

4.      Practice good posture. You’re more likely to practice good posture on the cushion if you keep track of it even when you’re not meditating. Try to always be aware of keeping your back straight and your shoulders relaxed. Imagine you’re pushing your abdomen gently toward your back so you hold it slightly tucked.

5.      Cultivate a calm mind. You’ll get more out of meditating if you try to hold onto a calm mind all day. If you start your meditation session in a peaceful state of mind, it will be easier to get into position faster and spend more time focused on your objectives.

Steps to Take During Your Meditation Sessions:

1.      Start gradually. It’s great if you’re all ready for the full lotus position, but there’s nothing wrong with making a more gradual start. Sit in a chair if it’s painful to sit on the floor. Sit for a few minutes at a time to begin with, and then increase the time in steady increments.

2.      Position your body correctly. No matter how you sit, keep your back straight and your abdomen tucked under. Pretend your head is being gently lifted by a balloon so you hold it high without straining your neck. If you use a chair, keep both feet flat on the floor. If you use a cushion, cross your legs and bring your feet toward your waist.

3.      Shift positions when you need to. Your ability to sit still for longer periods will naturally increase with time but it’s always okay to shift positions if you feel pain or stiffness. Stand up and stretch or just re-cross your legs placing the other leg on top for a while. Roll your shoulders or gently bend your head toward one shoulder at a time.

4.      Figure out what to do with your hands. There are two options that work well: rest your hands on your knees or rest them in your lap. Any arrangement that keeps your hands supported and out of the way is fine.

5.      Hold your tongue. As you move your focus inwards and stop talking, you may experience discomfort as you become more aware of the saliva in your mouth. One easy solution is to touch the roof of your mouth with your tongue. This naturally inhibits the flow of saliva.

6.      Lower your eyes. If visual images distract you, try lowering your eyelids so there’s just a small sliver of light before you. Keep your eyes softly focused without targeting any single object. You can even close your eyes as long as it doesn’t encourage you to fall asleep.

Meditation can transform your life with spiritual insights and greater peace. Learning to sit comfortably will help you focus on your objectives without any aches and pains getting in the way.