Whenever I remember to, I drop my shoulders away from my ears. Doing this feels good. It requires quite some effort of attention and muscular action. But I persist, because it feels right.
When we are cold, afraid, angry or stressed we tend to tense and lift up our shoulders, shortening our neck. Sometimes our shoulders jut forward too, scooping out a space in front of our chest. There is safety in this posture, as we wrap the muscles and bones of our shoulders around the softness of our front body. Protecting our organs and the squishy vulnerability of our belly and throat. But it can also feel rigid and forced. Eventually our neck, shoulders and back ache from the effort, but they are still unwilling to go off duty! They ping up at the slightest hint of trouble!
When we draw our shoulders down and back and reveal the full length of our neck and throat we open the place where we take in life – air, food, water – and the channel of our verbal expression. Dropping our shoulders is a signal to ourselves that there is no danger, things are OK. No need to puff up the shoulder muscles ready to fight. No need to shield our vulnerable parts. As our alarm system settles down and deep inhalations send our front body forwards into space we meet the world with the most sensitive and expressive parts of ourselves. The parts that most freely give and receive tenderness and compassion.