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How Language Shapes Us

Read Time: 2 min

The word Neck figures prominently in the English language.

Some days, your coworker is “a pain in the neck”. Some days, she may frustrate you so much that you could “wring her neck”.

Your boss can “breathe down your neck” pressuring you to finish that report by the end of the day. And you don’t know how you are going to get it done because you are “up to your neck” in so much work.

You can “stick your neck out” to help a friend in trouble.

And on and on.

The problem with talking about the Neck is that over time it becomes its own thing.

When in fact it is just part of a larger anatomical structure.

The Spine.

When I ask my students to point to the Neck on my skeleton they always point to the top part of the spine.

And that is what the Neck is, the top part of the spine.

You don’t have a Neck and a Spine. You have a Spine.

That Spine of yours starts at your tailbone way down between your buttocks and extends all the way up to between your ears. It is very smartly designed with alternating forward and backward curves. On the very tip top of the spine balances your head.

And where the head meets the spine is where your top joint is. Way up high between your ears.

How you speak about yourself reflects how you think about how you are structured.

And how you think about how you are structured affects how you move.

This is the premise behind the concept of Body Mapping.

One of the ways you can get in trouble with your posture is by repeatedly using your Neck independently of the rest of your spine.

When you look down at your smartphone or tablet by dropping from the bottom of the Neck, you are disconnecting the neck from the rest of the spine. Over time, this can have serious repercussions.

looking down at an i-pad flat on the table with head hanging forward of the body

Your head weighs 10—12 lbs.

When you look down from the bottom of your neck it is the equivalent of dangling a heavy shopping bag on the end of your neck.


So, let yourself have a spine and a head. Not a Neck.

Slowly let your Neck connect back to the rest of your spine and be absorbed back into your idea of spine.

Explore moving your head from the top of the spine.

Yes, way up high between the ears.

Your body and your posture will thank you for it.


6 Replies to “How Language Shapes Us”

  1. Lauren, I like all your posts, and I love language and the way it forms and informs our thinking and understanding of the world. So, this post is excellent. However, the sensitivity of the neck area, close to the exit of all cranial nerves, rather unprotected major highway for all life sustaining functions, close to the -again- unprotected inlet to the lungs makes the many metaphors and the habit of shortening and protecting this space so much more than an anatomical part of the spine.

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