The Modern Age is chock-full of daily stressors that burden us with anxiety, fear, and TENSION. Often the negative feelings we feel can manifest as tension in our body. Often this tension is felt in the neck and shoulders, which can lead to headaches, or in the lower back and hips, hindering our free-flowing movement.
As taught by Serge Kahili King, the teachings of Huna tell us that much of our dis-ease is ultimately a result of our stress and, especially, our tension. The releasing of one’s tension from one’s body and mind has all manner of benefits, besides physical benefits and psychological health. These benefits are apparent in one’s movement and how one carries oneself in the world physically and psychologically.
I’ll give an example from the arena of martial arts. Less tension in one’s body equals greater freedom of movement and speed. The increased speed developed comes from a lack of, or at least a lessening, the firing of antagonistic muscles that push and pull against each other, hindering the whip-like motion, especially of the limbs, originating from a body free of tension. With the increased speed of a mass hurtling through space comes greater force/power, which is introductory Newtonian Physics: Mass x Speed= Force.
You must be asking yourself, “So what?” True. So what? Touting the benefits of less tension for one’s physical health and self-discipline is terrific, but if I don’t give you some reliable methods to achieve this tension-free state, I’m just blowing smoke. Right?
Fear not, I wouldn’t drag you this far down the page without giving you some actionable steps to begin to experience a greater and greater tension-free state
Perhaps I didn’t mention the psychological benefits. These benefits of the mind and emotions directly result from the release of tension in the body. It seems that our muscular tension can be a form of psychological armouring. Psychological armouring is when an uncomfortable, unwanted emotion and its associative memory is suppressed from conscious experience by muscular tension in specific parts of the body (most closely associated with the painful feelings). The release of tension in these body parts results in the dissolving of the body armour and the release of emotions and associated unwanted memories to bubble up to consciousness to be experienced fully and released fully.
How do we go about releasing the pockets of tension that rigidify our body, possibly holding suppressed emotions and memories?
There are several techniques to bring this relief from tension. We will list six here, each discussed in greater detail in future posts.
The six paths to freedom from tension are as follows.
Keep in mind that someone can combine these techniques in various ways to increase their efficacy.
- The first, and in my mind, the most important is the use of the breath to induce relaxation in one’s body. A long exhale gives the best result for immediate relief from tension. However, there are many more in-depth breathwork techniques for a deeper and deeper release of stress that I will explore in a future post.
- One can induce the relaxation of the body using one’s mind. Using the mind to relax the body is possible because of the mind/body connection. There are essentially three ways of relaxing the body by using the mind’s powers. The first is mindfulness. It seems that being present with the tension begins to release it and relax it. The second way is through imagery and imagination, i.e. visualization. For example, imagine that the muscles loosen like ropes that are too taut or imagine a powerful white light that releases the muscles and psyche filling up the body. The last method is simply and consciously letting go of the tension, like dropping an object when opening up one’s hand and no longer clenching the thing. In addition, any combination of these mind methods, or all of them can aid in releasing tension.
- You can release the tension by tensing that particular body part even more intensely, to a maximum point, and then relaxing. In this way, the conscious increase in stress grabs the tension already there and releases it as one whole.
- Another method of releasing tension is one that we are all familiar with; I am referring to massage – both self-massage and massage performed by another. Many tools and devices are available on the market to help in self-massage, from hand-held wooden massaging to electrical appliances.
- On the other side of the body/mind connection is the use of the body to relax both the mind and body. The first method for achieving this goal of tension-release is movement, preferably slow, gently and rhythmic.
- The second method of using the body to achieve relaxation in the body can be accomplished after movement or on its own. I’m referring to gently stretching the body.
We are free to use any of these methods, as mentioned earlier, of tension-release, either alone or in combination. In addition, you can incorporate these methods into the following valuable activities to further one’s release of tension in the body.
Here is a list of some practical activities/practices that release tension:
- Tai Chi
- Cheng Hsin
- Taoist-influenced martial arts (Bagua Zhang, Hsing-I Chuan, Tai Chi Chuan, Liu He Ba Fa, etc.
We will look into each method of tension release in greater detail soon.