Relaxing the body doesn’t come naturally to me, even after these years of intentional body consciousness. I treasure every effort I make to deeply relax and I have yet to make the effort to relax and not have cascading muscle release throughout my whole body. Why I have been holding all of this weird tension I do not know, but I do know that I can retrain my way of being, albeit slowly, and that being in a state of alert relaxation is the posture I’d most like to be in most often.
It is downright comical to me now to see all of the areas I hold tension. So unnecessary. And seemingly developed over all of the years I spent “having to do x” and “wanting to be y” … this last month since my hip replacement I’ve had the luxury of really investigating the micro-movements in my daily habits. I have tension in almost all of them, from the way I reach an item in the cupboard, how I chop veg, … I’ve been working on slowing down my tooth brushing for years and it is still a challenge every. single. day.
I want to meet every baby in the world with a warm welcome and a download of QiGong or Tai Chi. Here, friend! You can harness the power of the universe within your own body, but it will take a deep trust (in millions of years of evolution, highly trustworthy), relaxation (which the whole world will try to jolt you out of, but ignore them!) and curiosity.
We have turned so much on its head since the Industrial Revolution. We went from lifestyles of Sense and Respond to Predict and Control – perhaps the worst trade-off ever. People barely know how to sense OR respond – even to their own thoughts and feelings, and this makes for a highly uptight culture, especially since predictions are usually wrong and control is an illusion, and a damaging one at that. I actually remember training myself out of sensing and responding – like many people (Catholic!) I was raised that the body was a source of sin and not to be trusted. Indeed, the desires and sensations of the body were what we’d spend our lives fighting against for purity or some such rot. What a weird tradition. What a shame.
I’m madly in love with exploring the world from a position of wholeness, curiosity and relationship. I’m only able to fully do it from time to time, and I’m a bit sad to say that even some of my nearest and dearest challenge “wholeness” all the time. Another remnant from a paradigm that says we’re all flawed (while we are all imperfect, I disagree it is a flaw) and any real humility would acknowledge that and feeling whole is both delusional and arrogant.
Feeling whole is even more counter-culture than slowing down, but just as tricky to practice. Like so many of the juiciest aspects of life, we’ve got a bit of a paradox – just like slowing down seems to make me far more productive, feeling whole allows me to explore things I’d like to add into my life – but without the “this will fix me” or “I need this to be whole” that always drove my curiosity before.
How can I relax into this? This is the question that is feeding everything from physical pain to emotional turmoil, and as I embrace it I can feel the tension leave. Then, my unconscious habits re-engage the tension which patiently waits for me to release it again. Some things are unwinding through this dance, some require the intervention of a practice (such as Bodytalk or tapping) to stop automatically reengaging tension, some may take new techniques, but it is the decision to lead a life assuming that life itself knew what it was doing (and I can therefore trust, rest, and relax) that makes all the difference.