When I first began doing my mindful meditations, I was told to focus on the physical changes that happen to my body throughout the day. I was amazed at the different sensations I experienced in my body as I became more conscious of my mood and temperament. I could feel my muscles tighten and relax as I dealt with stress, joy, and frustration. I became very aware to these physical differences. By noticing these changes, I could focus upon them, and relax myself until the tension subsided.
Whenever I feel stress, anger, or frustration my shoulders and neck tense and stiffen. It feels as if I have a 50 lb sack of flour on each shoulder, and my spine fuses together. By being more observant of this, it has helped me to calm down and regain my focus during stressful times. This “stress-shell” that forms around me can be conquered with concentration, and removing it allows me to be a better person at work and at home.
Within mindful mediations, there is a technique called a “body scan.” During your 20-30 minute mediation, you put focus to all parts of your body, and being more mindful of the sensations you feel during your deep breathing. You begin with your toes, and work your way through every joint, muscle, and extremity in your body. It is in this meditative and relaxing state that you can focus on tension until the pressure drifts away.
I was fortunate to visit my family this weekend, and began discussing this topic with my mother. Whenever she feels stress or anxiety, her knees tighten, and she is very aware of these changes. Even before her conscious mind realizes the emotion, her knees tighten and pulsate, and she feels her body is warning her of the stimuli around her.
In reading a few books on mindfulness, many researchers feel that these feelings are common in everyone, and were necessary parts of our subconscious mind for survival. These physical changes create a “fight or flight” reaction that can warn us of impending danger. If we all feel these physical changes as part of our survival, you must feel it too! I challenge you to be more observant of it. See if by focusing on it if you can release your tension during those stressful times.
Where in your body do you feel tension and pain in times of stress?