Knowing how to relax, to really let go, is the key to being fully at ease in your body. One of the best ways of relaxing is to make breathing a conscious exercise. Slow it down to about half its normal rate, and pause briefly between the in-breath and the out-breath. As your breathing slows down, it will become more effortless. Your whole metabolism will begin to calm down. Your pulse rate will drop, and your blood pressure will lower.
The body and mind are not separate. Uncomfortable body sensations cause the mind to worry and fret. Mental conflict, in turn, leads to emotional upset and creates stress in the body. When you learn how to relax your body, your mind will become quieter. There will be less chatter, less mental noise. You'll start to tap into a deeper stillness and clarity. You'll feel a natural balance within.
Practice relaxed breathing, then just be aware of the ever-changing sensations and feelings in your body. Try not to think about them. Just notice them. They will help you create more space inside your own consciousness. As a result, you'll feel more spacious and it will be much easier for you to deal with conflict and upsetting situations.
From Resistance, Rejection, and Denial to Acceptance
When people don't like what's happening in their experience, whether it's a condition in their body or a situation in their life, they usually go into immediate resistance and rejection, if not downright denial. If you're honest with yourself, you'll acknowledge that you're probably familiar with this pattern.
But before you can change anything, you first have to accept it, to own it. When you're no longer fighting what's happening, you allow space for the seemingly stuck or uncomfortable energy to unwind and transform.
You can practice this art of transformation through acceptance by beginning with your body. Learn to be a little detached from what you're experiencing in your body. This will give you some freedom from the experience. You won't be so caught up in it, and it will be easier for you to deal with whatever is happening.
It's a welcoming of your experience. You're giving the situation or condition space to be. Then the knot of sensation that you have previously labeled "pain" or "tension" can loosen. A new awareness will emerge.
Being Aware of Your Body
To be aware of your body in this very sensitive, loving way is the most important step you can take in healing yourself physically. Learn to make pain your friend. Soften around it. Give it space to unwind. Even if the pain doesn't go away, the stress around it will lessen. It will become more manageable, more tolerable. Soften your belly, too. Notice how much tension gets held there. Let your belly relax, and your whole being will breathe a sigh of relief.
In the light of clear, present awareness, where there is a calm acceptance of what's happening -- rather than denial or resistance -- consciousness expands. New insights enter your awareness, the problems at hand reveal their own solutions, and things find their natural stability.
Ease & Bliss
When you get really quiet and still, fully present in the moment, attuned to the subtlest movement of energy within and around you, the quickening life force causes a release of endorphins in your body. These are the hormones that dissolve pain and create pleasurable feelings, feelings of bliss, sometimes even ecstasy.
Bliss is what arises naturally when everything within you -- body, mind, heart, soul -- comes into perfect alignment or harmony. The energy of bliss is incredibly healing for the body. It softens, melts, and eventually eliminates all the physical blocks and imbalances that cause pain, stiffness, and inflammation. It brings a great sweetness to your life.
Tension and dis-ease are the result of a dominant sympathetic nervous system, the fight-or-flight response that is the chief trait of chronic anxiety. As you learn to let go and simply relax, the parasympathetic nervous system takes over and floods the body with warm, blissful feelings.
A good healer knows how to stimulate the flow of healing energy in the patient's body. As your consciousness evolves and expands, you learn to become your own healer. You learn how to move and flex your body to release tension and holding, and then how to get perfectly still, so that you can open up to the deeper flow of life energy, the bliss that is your true bodily nature.
As your wisdom ripens, you'll see that just as there is a wonderful upside to bliss, to the warm, melting sensations that you can create in your body, so there is also the danger of getting trapped by it. The bliss you get through moving your body, through making love, or through sitting in deep meditation and communing with the spiritual energy behind creation can become another addiction, just like any drug.
In time you'll find the balance. Bliss will be a place you visit periodically, whenever you need healing and renewal from within, whenever you need to drink from the well, the source of life, again. This may be once or several times a day, for a few minutes or for longer. Once you've made the connection, then it will be time to plunge back into everyday life and get on with the ever-important work of creating, relating, loving, and serving.
Pause and Attune
In any case, whenever you pause in your activities and consciously attune to the underlying rhythm and flow of the universe, bliss will be there. You'll feel it as the essence of your being, the very substance of who and what you are.
You'll notice that as you become more conscious and feel more at ease in your body, you'll bring through more life force. Your movements will be more graceful, and you'll radiate vitality. When you're not consciously connected to your body, you'll tend to move awkwardly, be clumsy, have accidents. If these things are happening to you, take heed. Be present. Be in your body.
You need some form of daily movement and stretching to help keep your body supple, to keep the energy moving through you. It doesn't take a lot, either. It's the quality of movement that counts, not the quantity.
Practices that Foster Staying Grounded in your Body
There are many useful practices that foster conscious breathing, movement, and body-centering. They teach you how to move your own energy and stay grounded in your body.
Yoga, somatic (mind/body) exercises, dance, and martial arts are examples of such practices. Chiropractic, massage, bodywork, and movement education are also good tools for helping you get more connected with your body. The more relaxed and present you are in your body, the less likely you are to be overtaken by fear, anger, depression, and other negative emotional states.
Remember, too, that it's not how your body looks that matters. People get too hung up on images and appearances. Our society is filled with people who have shapely, buffed bodies, who wear the right clothes, live in the right houses, drive the right cars, have the right jobs, and yet are not happy. Their minds are filled with conflict and discontent, their hearts are empty, their souls are anguished, there's little or no love in their lives.
What really matters is how you feel in your body. By all means look your best (looking good is very much a part of the balance), but give even more attention to getting your internal energy flowing in a nourishing way. Start accepting the fact that there is really only one energy -- the creative energy of life itself, the core vibration of the universe, the incredible and mysterious power we call "spirit," "God," or "life force".
Feeling Good Inside
When you know how to relax and truly open up to it, you feel that vibration in your body as ease, bliss, well-being. You experience it in your mind as clarity, wisdom, meaning. You feel it in your heart as unity, love, joy.
Open up to who and what you truly are. Become a fine-tuned instrument for divine energy, for spiritual power. Let the energy of love shine through your eyes and through the pores of your skin. Then, no matter what others think of you, you'll feel good inside -- and people will ultimately be attracted to that far more than they will to your outer appearances.
The Way of Harmony: Walking the Inner Path to Balance, Happiness and Success
by Dr. Jim Dreaver.
Reprinted with permission of the author. Published by: Avon Books, New York, NY 10019. ©1999.
About The Author
JIM DREAVER is also the author of "The Ultimate Cure: The Healing Energy Within You", and "Somatic Technique: A Simplified Method of Releasing Chronically Tight Muscles and Enhancing Mind/Body Awareness". For information about his work and speaking schedule, please write to 450 Pitt Avenue, Sebastopol, CA 95472, or visit his website at www.jimdreaver.com