One of the most common physical reactions to fear, disappointment, sadness or upset is a spontaneous shrinking of the back. The spine actually becomes shorter as the neck and lower back tighten to protect against alarming emotions or physical dangers. Only when the spine is long and supple can we live with ease, confidence and the courage to face challenges as they come along.
During the following process do your best to maintain an attitude of effortlessness. Everything you do is perfect, and accomplished without exertion or force. There are no rules or requirements to get “it” right. You might think in terms of your desire to feel body/mind flow whenever you notice it.
Experience the breath:
- Breathe slowly in and out.
- Notice the body expanding and contracting.
- Feel the cooling in-breath and the warming out-breath.
- Follow three breaths slowly in and out of the body.
Relax the shoulders and spine:
- Allow the shoulders to sink comfortably down. Feel the shoulder blades stabilizing and supporting the upper back.
- Breathe in allowing the front of the body to open, expand, and relax.
- Slowly scan the spine from the top of the neck to the tailbone. Imagine the muscles and tendons releasing, relaxing and lengthening as neck and head extend up and the tailbone drops down, as if being gently loosened and stretched.
- Breathe slowly as the muscles relax.
Soften the hips, knees, and ankles. Scan the spine:
- Imagine the hip joints releasing and opening.
- Drop down into the legs, softening the knees with a slight bend.
- Drop further into the ankles. Notice a simple stretch in the tendon at the back of the legs.
- Use the breath to scan up and down the spine. Imagine a river flowing up and down the spine releasing, clearing and lengthening the spine.
Enjoy the environment:
- Soften the muscles around the eyes. Allow the eyes to gaze about without fixing on any particular object.
- Invite the world to come in without grasping or holding on to any specific image. The eyes neither look back to what has passed nor jump ahead to what is next, but gaze effortlessly about. This keeps the mind focused on the present and reduces the tension of anticipating and defending.
- Effortlessness means you don’t need to try.
- No expectations to fit in or make immediate corrections. Only a desire to grow at a slow and steady pace as you become more comfortable with your skill in freeing your body and mind from unnecessary tension.