What if you are holding tension in your body that affects the way you think, feel, and behave without you even being aware of it? This unrecognized pressure keeps you in a state of subtle stress that drains your energy, makes you anxious, and puts up chronic neck pain, back pain, and sickness. As time passes, you can get so numb to this anxiety that you don’t know what deep relaxation feels like. In this post, you will learn an easy technique to release subconscious tension, so you feel fuller, freer, more relaxed, and energized in only minutes.
In the book,”Meditation: An In-Depth Guide” (Tarcher/Perigree, 2011), writers Ian Gawler and Paul Bedson tell a humorous story that illustrates how a lot of us are accustomed to holding tension in our bodies which we do not even know we are stressed.
Gawler and Bedson describe a participant in one of Ian’s meditation courses named Brian. Brian came to meditation course wanting to ease back and shoulder pain that had plagued him for ages. In their very first course, Ian slowly guided the course to a meditative state and then opened his eyes to check on how people were doing.
After the meditation was over, Ian went round the room and asked about people’s experience. When he got to Brian, Brian said through clenched teeth,”Oh, fine, very relaxed” and he appeared to mean it.
Because of this, he used simple exercises to help individuals both become aware of anxiety and become acquainted with what relaxation feels like. The backaches and shoulder pain have gone and I appear to have more energy.”
The Tension You Do Not Know You Are Holding
Here’s how this occurs:
You’re facing a challenging situation. You don’t know when you’ve got the resources to deal with this situation well.
Instantly, your amygdala, the part of your brain responsible for tracking threatening conditions, fires up. It sends alert signs throughout your body to mobilize one to action. Your endocrine system switches to adrenaline manner and electric signals take through your connective tissues preparing you to be on guard.
If you’re facing a major, or life-endangering hazard, this response is dramatic.
Since the situation and the resolution are somewhat striking, you will probably notice and feel the results. The sensations are powerful and the comparison between alarm and retrieval is great-so you can readily sense it.
But, there are two scenarios where the tension doesn’t subside-and you don’t detect it. In both cases, tension is stored within your body.
The first instance is when a situation is striking and you’re unable to completely process it-it overwhelms you. Being in a car collision, being subject to physical or psychological abuse, being the victim of a crime, or undergoing intense trauma like war, will probably surpass your coping resources. In such circumstances, your stress response is initiated and your body goes into shock. Your body”freezes” in this condition. You lock into stress mode and don’t recover.
As time passes, the tension locked in your body moves into the background of your consciousness and you no longer detect it. But it continues to influence how you think, feel, and behave.
By way of example, you can become anxious in related conditions. You may”flashback” to the first stressful event or have persistent negative thoughts and feelings that appear to come from nowhere. You might have persistent mental chatter regarding the traumatic event such as”I am unsafe,””I stay on-guard,” and”the world is a dangerous location.”
These thoughts and associated feelings will continue to cycle on mind and body until you have the ability to consciously process and fix the injury and release the related tension.
The second source of subconscious saved tension is much more subtle. It’s so subtle you’ll most likely be totally unaware of it, until it builds into something such as digestive problems, chronic neck or back pain, migraines, or cancer.
I started to notice this subtle strain when I was stretching my customers. In one lively stretch, my client lies on their back. I rhythmically pull one leg and then another, developing a side to side rocking motion in the hips. This is a superb way to release hip and lower back tension.
As I stretched client after client this manner, I would observe that most people would initially have their hips”locked,” so I was unable to move them. I would need to say something like,”O.K. today, let your hips go.” With this simple instruction, most people could let go and find some degree of lateral motion.
I generally maintained this rhythmic stretching going for at least 60 seconds, so the back and buttocks let go and release more and more. Yet, I would observe that a couple of seconds into the movement, many customers would lock up again. Their hips would go stiff.
Intuitively, I started to ask,”What did you get started thinking about just now?”
I would inform them that their hips just locked up. When I questioned them further, they would say things like,”Oh, I just started to consider it or that that I must do after,” or”I began to be worried about such and such.”
It was intriguing to see just how initiating a slightly stressful idea would instantly produce tension in the body.
How many stressful thoughts, anxieties, or anxious minutes do you have daily? How many of these ideas or worries are persistent? By way of instance, with your own finances, work, or family circumstances? Can you imagine how much subtle strain has stored on your body-without you even knowing it-as a consequence of stressful thoughts, anxieties, and concerns?
I became persistently conscious of the insight as I worked with customers who had chronic neck pain and low back pain specifically. Yes, these relate to physical problems like muscle stiffness, weakness, and imbalance-AND they were invariably accompanied by stressful thoughts and feelings.
By way of instance, I learned that when someone has an acute attack of neck pain or back pain it’s invariably traceable to some stressful event or series of occasions. Yet, most individuals don’t make this connection. Most are searching only for bodily causes and bodily cures and don’t find the mental-emotional events that put the pain and stiffness in movement.
Fortunately, your mind and body are equipped with tools to recognize and release tension and the corresponding pains, ideas, feelings, and memories. These anxieties may exist in layers which take time and continuous attention to discharge, but it does happen if you work with this. A practice like meditation is a gentle way to release these tensions as they arise in awareness-whether they come from traumas from the past or are short term tensions of the present moment.
Here’s another easy way to recognize and release tension in only a couple minutes.
Above, we talked about how profoundly stressful encounters are palpable when first experienced and noticeable when they subside-if we manage them well. There’s a sharp contrast between alarm and retrieval which delivers a clear consciousness of the difference between tension and relaxation.
As soon as I discovered meditation in the Kriya Yoga tradition, the first instruction capitalized with this feeling of comparison to train a sense of deep relaxation. The concept is simple: move your focus through your entire body, from feet and feet, to thighs, buttocks, stomach, chest and back, shoulders, and face, first slowly tensing each area to a solid muscular contraction, then slowly releasing the regeneration until you feel the muscles fully dampen.
Go ahead and give this a try only with a single body part and find out how it feels. It’s a fairly cool sensation.
Put one hand, palm up, in your leg. Concentrate on the feeling in your hand as you slowly curl it into a fist and then gently tighten it to about 70% of maximum contraction. Hold this contraction for ten minutes… Then, VERY SLOWLY release the tension until your hand is totally limp.
If you think that your is completely relaxed, see if you can let go more-until your hand and fingers are softly resting on your leg, like a cloud floating in the sky. You might feel a lightness in your hand, a heat of flow, or just a soft, spacious feeling.
Compare the feeling to the flip side and detect any difference.
If you wish to experience a deeper, whole-body state of comfort, you can conduct a Contract/Relax sequence, first with both feet, then both legs, both shoulders, your abdomen, chest, back, shoulders, and face. This technique, sometimes done from head to toe, is usually called”Progressive Muscle Relaxation.” As soon as you’re finished, notice how your entire body feels. Record this feeling in each mobile, so it creates a strong impression which you are able to go back to more readily and deepen the next time you exercise.
If you exercise consciously relaxing with this technique, meditation, or another method, you’ll start to have a trusted baseline of relaxed awareness you may live from and return to whenever you require.