Releasing body tension: the mind-body connection
The following talk assumes that no medical condition exists.
Mindfulness meditation is a great exercise to quieter and relax our restless mind.
Mindfulness can also be used in reverse to relax our body.
Why? Because in Zen Buddhist philosophy body and mind is one entity tightly connected.
This is why our body is a great proxy of our mind and vice versa. We should learn to apply this connection.
When our body is under tension our mind is restless. Relaxing your body will calm your mind.
In reverse, a restless mind will induce tension in your body. Calming the mind will relax our body.
When you practice awareness of your body in a mindful way, you will notice, quite often, there is some tension, pain or other symptoms somewhere. The most frequent locations of tension are headache, neck, shoulder, chest, back pain. Also you may notice rapid heart rate, superficial breathing.
Our gastro-intestinal tract is frequently affected such as poor digestion, stomach butterflies, bloating, increased appetite especially sweets, abnormal transit, etc.
These symptoms are the physical consequences of a non-physical restless mind struggling with anxiety or many other negative feelings at its preconscious level …….again, .as long as no medical conditions exist.
Therefore it is important to learn to relax the body during any circumstances and in any positions.
It will help to quieter your restless mind at the same time.
We don’t enjoy driving in the traffic because you want to arrive quicker and you may notice tension in your body. When the light is red you are eager for the green one. Waiting on line, being in stressful situations, doing things we don’t like or not doing things you want to do, a negative feeling, all of them may or will increase mind-body tension at 2 levels.
Learning to be sensitive to your body in a mindful way, will also help you to read your mind since our body is just the tip of the iceberg .
Relaxing the body can be done anytime at home, at work, lying down, sitting or standing up.
For example: if you feel tension in your neck w/o obvious reason, try to dig in your emotional brain to see what is going on.
First you have to localize the tension using body scanning.
This is total body scanning which will be described shortly.
Then, relaxing this tension can be achieve simply by few and slow deep breathing during 1 to 2min.
The exhale should be a bit longer than the inhale. This is in-and-out in full concentration.
It has been show that this simple exercise drops the blood pressure somewhat, reduce the heart rate respiratory rate, and lower cortisol our main stress hormone. At the same time the mind is also relaxing.
Body scanning is an excellent practice in helping us to assess both body and mental tension.
It should be done in a systematic way, from toes to head and from the superficial to the inside.
The best way is lying down and takes few deep breaths before starting the step-by-step scanning.
A complete body scanning may takes several min. for novices
With experience, 2 to 3 min. will do the trick.
Finally, if these symptoms persist, consulting may be considered.