Relaxation: What IS it?
Most of us rely on something outside of ourselves to achieve a state of relaxation: a long walk, a hard workout, a massage, a substance, a person, a meditative practice, a TV show. But, by understanding what that state consists of, we empower ourselves to achieve it without a crutch, and to incorporate it into our daily living. Here’s the important question: what are the physical sensations of being relaxed? Try to answer that for yourself before reading on.
When you sink into a hammock, or melt into the warm sand of a tropical beach, the muscles in your body stop working to hold you up, away from the earth. At that moment, what you feel is your body’s weight. Being relaxed is the sensation of owning your body as weight, and surrendering that weight to the embrace of gravity.
To practice feeling your weight, it’s helpful to contrast the state of mild tension with the state of letting it go. In the accompanying video, I show you how that might look and feel. Try to sense what I’m feeling as you watch.
What does all this have to do with posture? Being able to accept support from the ground is essential to healthy posture. You can learn what I mean by that in my new DVD workshop: Heal Your Posture.
To practice, lie with your head on a pillow and imagine the weight of all the organs in your head–eyes, teeth, ears, the brain itself–draining downward like beads in a rainstick. Take time to sense the details of letting go of your head’s weight. Then, ever so slightly, raise your head from the support. Someone observing you might not be able to see the difference, but you’ll feel that you’re no longer at rest. Take time to fully incorporate the distinction between those two states.
The first step is learning to identify the sensation of relaxation. Then, of course, you need to practice feeling it until it becomes a viable habit. Please let me know if you can see what I’m trying to show you in the video.