As in my previous post – getting back into meditation has reminded me of two things. The first was addressing and working with the judgement of starting again. One of the types of meditation I do (and generally quite a common meditation) is simply focusing on my breath. And that’s never straightforward – I find that it takes me a while (weeks, if not months) to really get into the habit of it. And even then, it isn’t for a long period at all. But each time I refocus on my breath and start again; however, there has been something else that I noticed.
Even when I try and focus on my breathing, I might still feel tension in my shoulder or back or jaw. I’ve noticed that I actually have to focus, first, on consciously and purposely relaxing my muscles, starting with the main ones. And once I am physically relaxed (and I could always keep going with it) I then bring my attention to my breath. If I am able to do that, I find that the whole experience is more satisfying.
It reminds me that we carry a lot of tension in our body without even realising it. I could talk about the need to spend more time focusing on physical health and body posture, but for now it’s a simple reminder that tension needs to be actively addressed. We become so familiar with the tension that we don’t even recognise it until it grows into a headache or we become unwell.
Our emotional and physical states are so intimately connected. If we want to stand the best possible chance of feeling better emotionally, we need to remember to get ourselves into a physically calmer state. And if we can get into a habit of remembering to relax our shoulders, un-clench our jaw, un-furrow our eyebrows… we might notice that the emotions, too, become more relaxed. It is then that we can set our intentions – this could be focusing on the breath during a meditation, or it could be about addressing those other issues.
Don’t let the unconscious tension in your shoulders be a barrier to you meeting your needs and feeling better. When we are more aware of how we feel (physically and emotionally) we are more able to change our behaviour and bring attention to something more useful and more helpful.