I have been doing body check-ins for a long time now. My technique has changed from the time-consuming body scan to a quick, few seconds of noticing. I am still surprised to feel how much I tense my body. Every few minutes I would find myself tensing my shoulder, my belly, my thighs or buttocks or my jaw. Go ahead and give it a try! As you are reading this, are there any body parts you are tensing?
We use our body when overwhelming emotions are experienced by bracing ourselves, holding tension, which in the long-term can create habitual patterns: strain and stress can harden muscles and the fascia, it can also change our breathing, which can activate the fight or flight response of the nervous system.
I can see how this constant tensing and holding has negative effects on my muscles and nervous system and also can block the natural flow of energy in my body. But more importantly it revealed my habitual pattern of bracing myself against life. I am ready to fight and by tensing up and gripping I don’t allow life to just happen.
Speaking about difficult or traumatic events with family and a therapist may help our mind to deal with things, but the body does not forget. When emotions get suppressed or held in our body, we develop patterns of contraction as protection, with time this turns into chronic tension.
So how do I deal with it? NOT by fighting back, but with tenderness. I turn my attention softly to that part and release the gripping, relax the muscles. This happens every 5-10 minutes throughout the day. It happens while I am writing this blog or while I am having a conversation with a friend. Let me tell you, the moment I relax, I become more present to whatever I am doing and feel more open to possibilities or others’ opinions.
With embodiment practices we learn to be fully present in the body and develop the ability to welcome all sensations. In return we become more resilient and ready to face whatever challenges life presents us. It influences every part of our life: when embodied awareness is practised, we feel what we need, what to eat, how to exercise and how to relate to others.
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