Taking care of your body
Before beginning this section, think for a moment about the importance of focus. Focus is guiding the mind to look upon something with great attention. When you are truly focussed, you lose track of time and space and your attention is singular. Working on your physical health with your mind requires great focus.
Its well known emotional stress is connected with physical tension in your body. The location of the physical tension can vary, it may be in your head (a headache), shoulders, pelvis and stomach (deeper emotional stress), in your chest (a heartache), or around an old injury. In fact, how you hold and move your body reflects the physical tension within you. You are so used to mental tension manifesting as physical tension in your body you're not even aware of it much of the time.
Daily stress is often felt as a weight upon your shoulders. Have you ever been on a long wonderful vacation where you were able to relax and be carefree? Then when you return you feel the weight of your responsibilities back on your shoulders? It actually feels like real weight. The mind mistakenly associates the physical tension in your body as weight upon you. When the emotional tension is alleviated, the physical tension is as well. Similarly, when you work through emotional issues as part of opening up, physical tension is reduced. Of course, a good massage will physically relax you, and also relax you emotionally. Often emotions will come up during the massage itself. This point of this section is about something different. It is also possible to focus on your body and relax it using your mind.
How do we approach the physical side through the mind? The answer is through visualization. You have the power to eliminate the physical tension from your body simply by going through mental exercises. When done in conjunction with moderate movement as a breathing and natural stretching as a feedback mechanism its possible to develop the skill to relieve yourself of virtually all physical tension. The primary mental exercise I use is a physically focussed meditation to either focus on the emotions in my body, or focus on the physical tension in my body. Focusing on emotions is less specific, for instance focussing on the heartache I feel. Alternatively I can focus so precisely physically that I can isolate and relax the muscle that is causing the heartache. Both techniques work, yet generally being able to focus on the precise muscles in tension is much more difficult.
Focussing on representations of emotional tension in your body.
When I first started exploring my mind ist was through my history whether the last hour, day, or emotional events in my life. At some point, I became aware that I could perceive emotional conflicts, knots, masses, or whatever you might call it in my mind in association with physical tension in my body. I could bypass the story and work directly with these. Some people might call it visualization, however I think of it more as finding the physical representation of your body and how it feels in your mind. Bring your mind to focus solely on specific parts of your body and the physical/emotional tension. You can visualize the emotional and physical stress in your mind. Its often difficult to look at directly, we just have a sensation that it is there. Over time with practice, it can be looked upon more and more directly. It can be visualized as negative emotional energy and you have to put it somewhere. It can be in your subconscious or in your body. At first this emotional/physical tension may be stuck in a particular place, then it might become like mercury that you can't get rid of and will run from one place to another, finally you may learn to let it completely in your mind to be resolved. Although this concept is a bit slippery; this is just developing your ability to make use of the mind-body connection that everyone is familiar with. Its difficult because there is a strong desire to avoid the associated negative emotional feelings. This is how your body represents the emotional/physical conflicts between how you are and your inner values.
Now, lets look at those negative emotional feelings which are weighing us down. These feelings are so strong they can make you nauseous. These feelings aren't right, we know that, but we don't know what to do with them. Its healthy to want to avoid these feelings, yet when the negative emotional feelings are based upon a conflict embedded within, the desire to avoid works against us. The solution is to go into the feelings with your mind visually or to visualize allowing the feelings to move into your mind. By doing so you can uncover what's behind the feelings and resolve them. In doing so, you will also relax physically. Take a look, visualize looking behind or through the feelings, see what happens. Eventually you will learn to embrace them, surrender to them, find forgiveness for them. Its rather simple, love heals, so if in doubt, if struggling, look for love in the form of compassion to transform the negative emotional feelings into positive ones.
Focussing on physical tension and relaxing in conjunction with emotional release.
Opening from the physical side is easy, if you get a long massage from a skilled practioner. A two hour massage, especially by a caring professional, will release physical tension and emotions. Opening physically or emotionally is always easier with someone else helping.
Opening from the physical side by yourself using your mind is possible, if your highly attuned and focussed on physical tension in your body. I shall show you. Make yourself comfortable, take a few deep breaths. Slow down. Relax. Do you have any physical tension or pain? Focus on the tension. Go into it with your mind, allow yourself to fully feel the pain or tension. If you don't feel anything, just keep your focus exclusively on your body and wait. See what happens. As the physical tension is released there can be a corresponding flow of emotions into your consciousness. I only allow the physical tension to release if there is an emotional release. I relax physically ever so slightly, if there is not a simultaneous emotional release I return to the previous level of physical tension and try again. This takes incredible singular focus. It can only be done in the quiet by yourself. It might take two or three times before the emotion simultaneously releases into my consciousness as I physically relax. In very slow increments, the smallest that I can possibly control, I relax physically and emotionally. If you can't do this, don't worry. It took me a long time before I discovered I could. Once you have linked the physical tension and emotional tension you are now able to deal with this internal conflict directly.
There is a book which delves into this connection that is worth reading. It is written by a doctor who discovered that men with back pain from stress could be relieved of their pain by acknowledging the true source of their pain, the emotional stress. Its not that the physical pain doesn't exist. The physical pain is a manifestation of the emotional stress. His first book on back pain was so successful that he wrote another book which expanded the concept to pain in general. The doctor's name is Dr. John Sarno and you can purchase the book, "The MindBody Prescription" below by clicking on the picture.
These are advanced techniques. Simpler physical techniques also exist such as dancing, shaking, natural stretching with poses (Touchdown, Oh God Why, Arms back, shoulder rotations feel for looseness).