Tension and Relaxation

As I slowly feel what it’s like to have a body that’s relaxed and free, I’ve been thinking back to the early days of my journey. It’s been 27 years since I first started meditating and for the first five or six years, every time I had an hour to meditate I’d spend 10-20 minutes on pranayama to relax a little and/or 15-45 minutes moving my attention throughout my body trying to get my muscles to let go even a little so that I could be more comfortable as I meditated. Maybe 10 or 15 minutes of meditation followed.

That was back in the days when every muscle in my body was twisted so whether or not I felt mentally relaxed, my body was always tight and often painful. Any shifts in energy I felt from meditating or some other practice were more a general sense of change rather than anything I could actually feel in my body. Even at that level anything I could do to shift into a quieter space or a different energy came as such a relief that I was hooked.

Over the years my ability to hold a space of calm and serenity has grown even though the deepest level of muscles stayed taut. In the last few years my muscles are relaxed enough that finally I can settle into a meditation and just think “relax” or “my body is relaxed” and then sink into a space where I’m ready to meditate.

I’m going to do a few short posts exploring the impacts that the tight muscles have had on several aspects of the journey. I know that my case has been far more severe than most but I teach movement and I watch people move and I see a society in which people with stiff, tense bodies are everywhere. So I want to share my experience because, while I think my before and after may be more dramatic, a lot of people are affected more than they may realize by holding patterns of tension in their muscles.

It blows me away to realize the night and day difference between my ability to just sink into relaxation now and the arduous process of getting just a tiny bit less stiff when I began. For me that took untold hours of yoga, meditation and bodywork (among other things). For others I imagine it would take less, but if you have stiff hips or tense shoulders or a neck that won’t move, etc. it’s probably keeping you from feeling the full impact of relaxing into spirit, so it’s worth addressing.

Healing Journey Monday:  Practices for Flow

The Unwinding Head Saga

11 thoughts on “Tension and Relaxation

  1. Thank You, Leigh – I can so relate to what you have written here! Just yesterday, as I backed my car into a parking space, I remember thinking back to the time when I wasn’t able to turn my head around far enough to look, as I backed the car into the spot. And I felt grateful for the headway I’ve made working through the symptoms of fibromyalgia and arthritis.

    I’ve noticed too, that when my muscles DO finally let go and relax more than usual – how amazed I am that they had been as tight as they were. So this causes me to surmise that if I do not realize the tension is there, it means that I allow it to remain. Therefore, I believe that this is why a DAILY PRACTICE is so important. And I forget that sometimes. Sometimes, I forget often.

    Perhaps one of my next blogs will focus on the question; “Why do we stop doing what we know is working?” 🙂

    • Oh that question of stopping doing what works — you could write a bunch of blogs about that. I’ve hit it in the past and I’m sure I’ll get to it again. Look forward to seeing what you have to say about it!

  2. Do you think it also has something to do with the relationship you now have with your body?
    What I mean by that is, instead of only viewing, or relating to what’s happening in your body when something is in “dis-ease”, from a fear based center you are now more accepting of what that may have to teach you and more of a witness to your own process?

    • It’s always hard to separate out threads in this kind of process — what impacted what, which practice affected what, etc. I’m sure that the other shifts in me over the years have made a difference in my perception but I’m also sure that the twisted steel rod quality of every single muscle in my body then (my first massage therapist told me many times she didn’t know how I could walk) vs. the healthy, untwisted flexibility now makes a huge difference. I have a lot more facility at mental relaxation and serenity now and I know my body much better because of the long tedious process of healing but I’m not sure how much affect those things would have had against the twisted, glued together muscles. I’m not sure if that answers the question?

  3. Thank you for your reply. And yep it does answer the question. May you find joy and continued success in your unwinding process. 🙂

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