Ever notice yourself holding your breath or crushing the steering wheel without even thinking about it? Do you have receding gums or exposed enamel because you keep smashing your toothbrush into your teeth while brushing? I am sometimes guilty of clenching my jaw when concentrating hard on something or when I find myself getting upset - or am I getting angry because I’m clenching my jaw?.
To me, these are all symptoms of improper learning – the carryover from using excessive tension for a sense of control and stability. When you clench our way thru life and “get really tight” are you learning something new or just learning how to make something you already know even more ingrained?
Many of my clients seem to only feel “right” when moving and reacting with heightened emotional and physical tone – they have crammed tension and clenching into their very way of doing and being.
You cannot avoid failure or errors, they are inherent to learning and you cannot grip your way through. If you did this when you were a baby you would still be lying in a crib unable to move or interact.
BUT just as solving mental problems is often aided by taking a break and coming at the question from a different angle, movement (or mind-body) problems can be solved by these same methods.
Could I do this same task with less effort?
Can I breathe rhythmically without holding air in or bracing?
Can I bend and rotate my spine or do I walk like a mini-fridge?
How aware am I when I move? If I wanted to, could I move a different way?
If the answer to any of these is "No", well then do the opposite. Learn to recognize what you are doing and why; use attention and curiosity to break the cycle.
I don’t teach The Correct Way to Move - there isn't one. I teach All Possible Ways to Move.
“Learning to recognize what is actually happening and gaining direct control of it makes success and failure into acts as opposed to happenings.”
Mind-Body DIY Session
With each article I'm going to post a "do it yourself" session that you can try at home. They will always supplement the topic du jour and include a video or written description (or some combination thereof).
1) Set a timer for 5 minutes
2) On your hands and knees, with your back relaxed practice taking a few breaths in and out. How hard is it to breathe here? Pay attention to what feels stiff and what feels free.
3) Now, practice rounding your back towards the ceiling while bringing your pelvis underneath you. How hard are you working to perform this movement?
4) At the top of the movement take a few breaths in and out thru the nose. Compared to when your back was relaxed, do you find it harder to breathe in this position?
If so, try the movement again but this time more slowly, staying in the middle of the range of motion and without holding your breath. Think of breathing in a circle and allowing your spine to move and follow the curves of that breathing circle. See if you can do the same movement with less effort. Whatever you're doing, do less.
You will find after a few minutes that your back loosens and breathing becomes easier. If you find yourself feeling a little tired mentally, that's fine dude! You are now learning to modulate your attention and that is quite challenging for people so externally focused. Many of my clients find this exercise allows them to clarify their thoughts and improves their focus - let me know your experience with it in the comments section.
*Love or hate the DIY session? Let me know in the comments or email me: firstname.lastname@example.org