Do you know how you feel when you relax?
This is a good question to ask yourself! Without having to ponder it, do you truly know the answer?
So often we focus on the negative sensations we experience in the body – symptoms of stress or anxiety, symptoms of a health condition, or symptoms of something we don’t know the cause of.
That’s because these symptoms are pretty good at and making themselves known. Headaches, back pain, joint discomfort, digestive problems, insomnia, stiffness… They’re hard to ignore!
And, it’s perfectly natural to notice discomfort and pain – it’s our body telling us something needs attending to.
Choose your focus
But, the thing is, energy flows where our attention goes.
So when we constantly focus on the perceived negative sensations in our body we reinforce the idea that this is our natural state.
By focusing on what we tell ourselves is wrong we can all too overlook the positive sensations – or we downplay them as being not “normal” because we’re used to the “usual” discomfort.
Please don’t think I’m belittling any pain or discomfort you may experience. Instead I’d love to offer you a different way of experiencing your body – nothing has to change in your body though: it’s a shift in awareness.
Focus on the sensations which are present when you feel relaxed. This anchors into your mind and memory positive experiences you can feel in your body.
Give it a go.
Take your baseline
Let’s begin with noticing how you feel now.
Without judgement scan your awareness through your body, from your feet through your legs, hips, spine, abdomen, chest, hands, arms, shoulders, neck, head and face and notice what sensations you detect.
There might be pinching, aching, stiffness, pain, heaviness. There may be ease, spaciousness, lightness.
Don’t judge! Just notice.
Now do something to help you to relax
Try one or two or all of these:
Breathe (2 minutes) – Close your eyes or lower or gaze, and take some conscious, deep breaths. Breathe in for a count of 4, breathe out to a count of 6. This will activate your rest, digest and heal nervous system response.
Move (5-10 minutes) – Use simple movements to connect to your breath and calm body and mind with the Dru Earth Salutation
Relax (17 minutes) – Do something good for yourself and reward yourself with stillness, follow my guided relaxation.
Now, how do you feel?
Feel into your body. What sensations are present now? What feelings? What emotions?
What are YOUR symptoms of relaxation?
For me it’s feelings of a pleasant, grounded heaviness. My shoulders and hips and jaw are relaxed. My eyes feel relaxed. The muscles at the base of my skull feel they are softening. There’s a sense of spaciousness. My breath is free and deep and smooth. I feel alert and calm and that all is well. I feel soft yet supported inside.
For you if might be lightness, warmth, openness, connectedness, muscles softening, eyes softening, sighing, yawning.
Again, don’t judge! However YOU feel is right for YOU, here in this moment.
Retrain your brain to relax
Each time you do something which truly enables your body to relax you’re creating new experiences of how it is to feel at ease, to feel good. (BTW vegging out in front of the telly doesn’t count! I mean something which turns down the dimmer switch on the stress response in your body and brings your nervous system back into balance.)
This retrains your brain to notice when your body and mind and spirit feel GOOD, feel connected, feel present.
Remember, energy flows where attention goes. Each time we allow ourselves to relax deeply we create a new memory of being and feeling. We can anchor it with conscious awareness – naming the sensations.
So next time we’re feeling discomfort and pain we know that it isn’t always this way.
When we’re familiar with our own symptoms of relaxation we know that we can bring ourselves back into balance. We can recall the memory of how it feels to relax and, by remembering, we can feel it again in our body in that moment.
So be mindful of what you’re feeling.
Choose to let in feelings of being relaxed.