That Familiar Feeling. . . .

Stress Shattered Glass Word Cloud Concept

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?

4 thoughts on “That Familiar Feeling. . . .

  1. When I am stressed I don’t breath..I know that sounds weird but my kids are always telling me to breath…I take very shallow breathes evidently. I am not aware of it until I feel like I can’t get enough air in my lungs..or they tell me..I also have more headaches and neck pain when in a stressful situation..and my heart rate increases. I have learned to just STOP and concentrate on my heart. I can actually slow my heart rate down that way. Also remember to breath deeply. If it is a really, really stressful situation I also pray.. In case you need to 78 almost 79 yrs. and retired. Don’t have work stress anymore.. Yippee..just family and friends that I tend to stress over..

  2. Hi Sue! Thanks for your comment and insight 🙂 During my mindful leadership class many of my classmates brought up that they used prayer as an alternative to the breath meditations and found similar results. I think no matter how you clear your mind, it’s about giving yourself that space and time to reflect and determine the necessary response. When you can make that time, even if it’s only for a few moments, it allows you to reset and react properly to the situation.

    I always remember my grandparents and parents say, “I’ve only got two hands,” or “I can’t do one thing at at time.” Nowadays if you take things step by step you’re looked down upon, we pretend we can do 100 things at once (the myths of multi-tasking) and if we can’t, we’re seen as inadequate. I value prioritzing and being strategic with my actions, and think it’s a trait we need to put more value into as a society.

  3. Many friends comment on “stress headaches” and can pin point exactly where they will occur—usually in the back left side of the head—right behind the ear. Deep breathing, outdoor activity, physical activity are good remedies.

  4. Josh, great blog! I laugh because I don’t really notice stress, because my body is always stressed :). But, when I get a massage or have a few drinks to the point my body does stop tensing I can REALLY feel the difference. I tend to harbor my main tension in my shoulders on my upper back. Most chiropractors can not release the tension because it’s so rock hard. I remember in Hawaii my wife scheduled a couples massage on the beach and the poor girl had to climb on the table and put her whole body weight into my shoulders before I felt any affect on the muscles.

    I’m following you on your blog adventure to hopefully learn how to better relax myself and take care of my body and mind. I’m curious do you believe in the 3rd eye at all. That is something I’ve been skeptical about, but in a sense fascinated. Would love to hear your opinions on that.

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