– a path to assist in the release of tension
I’ve always said that part of the benefit of regular bodywork comes from the very real re-connection achieved through physical contact. Many of my clients will exclaim once we start a session that they didn’t realise just how sore or tense they had become -our bodies can quickly adapt to pain and discomfort and layers of tension can build up, largely un-noticed. In addition to the benefits of physical manipulation, the simple act of being touched will stimulate neural pathways and bring awareness back to the physical body to assist in the process of release. But, you don’t have to wait until your next appointment to take advantage of these benefits; you can use your own mindfulness practice to assist you towards a happier and healthier body.
Have you noticed, at the close of a session, I will always encourage time to check in and bring awareness to any changes felt? This is an effort to deepen the results and extend the positive effects. You can use this same approach for regulating the amount of tension you hold day to day -finding time to regularly bring your awareness back to your body can be a useful and ongoing tool.
Here is a short, 3 minute exercise you can use to help you bring more mindfulness to your daily routine and support you in your practice of increased body awareness.
1. Sit comfortably (or lie down), close your eyes and take 30 seconds to tune into your breathing. You are not trying to breathe in any particular way, work with your natural breath and simply watch what happens in your body as you breathe. Notice what parts of your body move as you inhale and exhale. Can you feel how far the breath travels? Is it shallow or short? Do your ribs move? Does your belly move? Can you feel it in the back of your body as well as the front? Take the time to watch each breath and try to notice as much detail as possible.
2. Pick an area of your body, for example your chest, or your lower back, your right shoulder or your face, any section of your body (and you can mix it up and choose a different area each time you practice). For the next minute and a half, put your focus on the chosen area. Try to feel the full dimensions of that part of your body. What parts are touching clothes, or the surrounding air? If, for example, you chose your chest, can you feel the distance between the front ribs and the back? The difference between each rib and the stretch of skin and underlying muscles? If you chose your right arm, can you feel the distance from your shoulder to your hand? At what angle does it sit against your body (or along the floor if you are lying down)? Whatever area you have chosen, take the full 90 seconds to feel, notice and bring into your conscious awareness, as much detail as possible.
Note: All of this is done without any thought or effort to be in a certain way, you are not ‘trying to relax’ you are simply noticing what is present and reconnecting your awareness to specific parts of your body.
3. Once you have taken the time to mentally connect to a specific area use the remaining 30 seconds to compare how that part of your body feels against the rest of you. This is even more powerful if you chose to focus on one limb where you can now compare the feeling of that limb to the one that did not receive your focused attention. You may notice subtle differences (or you may notice no difference at all, that’s totally ok *grin). Over time, you will train your awareness and sharpen your mind to a finer level of detail and you will find that this practice alone will help release and relieve built-up tension and support and maintain any benefits you may have received from your bodywork sessions.