Have you ever thought that how you treat your body and how attentively you listen to your "body's voice" could be an important step toward acknowledging and reducing stress?
Here is what Tara Brach -- a leading western teacher of Buddhist meditation, emotional healing and spiritual awakening writes in her book True Refuge:
“ One of the best instructions I’ve heard for meditation practice was given by Thai Buddhist teacher Ajahn Buddhadasa: “Do not do anything that takes you away from your body.” The body lives in the present. When you are aware of the body, you are connected with living presence—the one place where you can see reality, see what is actually happening. Awareness of the body is our gateway into the truth of what is. “
So true -- your body is always talking to you.
It has a loud voice. It says things like "I'm tense", "I can't breathe" or "I don't have enough energy to cope."
You can't help but listen and you can't help feeling the tension mount.
True relaxation starts with a relaxed body. Only when you are totally physically relaxed you can start to relax mentally.
All body tension is muscular tension, and all muscle contraction is self produced, even if you aren't aware of producing it. Once you become aware of the tension, you can begin to let the tension go.
The truth is that your body registers stress long before the conscious mind does. Tense muscles, sore joints or tiny pains and aches are your body's way of letting you know that you are under stress. They are those red lights on a car's front panel signaling you that something is going to break down.
Do you give attention to those body signs?
Many times we are treating our body like a junk car that gets you from one place to another, instead of treating it like a precious temple.
Your body can tell you a long story about your unique states of tension and release. All you have to do is turn your attention within, and quietly listen.
Remember to thank your body for keeping you alive and informed, for serving you despite all the times you have ignored it needs.
Do something special for your body today: take a bubble bath, wear your most comfortable clothes, get a manicure or foot massage.
Here is your this weeks challenge: Daily Body Scan
- Start with body check-in.
- Pause in a quiet place and close your eyes. Allow your breathing to slow down and deepen. Tune into your body.
- Ask your body,"How relaxed am I at the moment?" " Where is the tension in my body?
- Scan your body for any tight neck or back muscles, sore joints, tiny aches or pains.
- As you find each contraction, twitch, or distortion, thank your body for showing it to you.
- Focus on each area for a moment, exploring the tightness and soreness.
- Inhale deep down in your abdomen and then exhale and allow your tight back muscles to relax, your eyelids to stop twitching, your knees to stop aching. You don't need this tension anymore and you can let it go!
Of course it is difficult to remember in the middle of a daily rush that you are supposed to notice your physical sensations.
To help you to keep focused and develop this de-stress habit, I suggest you to make signs that says Check In With Your Body. Hand one on the bathroom mirror, and other in the place where you will see it throughout the day. Practice your body scan when you aren't under stress.
You can choose to start your day with a body scan. Do it while you are brushing your teeth. Mentally go down, from the top of your head to the tips of your toes, ad simply notice what you feel. Relax any tense area.
Keep checking in with your body daily. It will tell you the truth you need to know about stress in your life, secrets you cannot hear from any other source.
The first step towards true relaxation must start with your body. Right now you can change what your body says by spending a few minutes each day giving it a chance to relax.
Start your day with the relaxed body and your mind will follow.