Tension Release for inner peace
During the summer of 2012 at the capricious age of seventeen, I sat in a room full of strangers as group therapy transpired. Tension release was the hot topic as we built our list of coping skills. We were all told relax in our chairs with our hands resting on our thighs. I did not know at the moment, but this was one of the most memorable skills I have learned from inpatient therapy.
The woman who ran the group asked us to close our eyes. With my eyes closed I wondered what tension had to do with my mental health. I thought of my mind, body, and spirit as completely separate entities failing to recognize the connection. The reality is every single part of me is connected. I have learned to constantly remind myself to view all of Amber as one. Every piece of me working cohesively, balancing each other out just like nature.
With my eyes closed and body relaxed, I was first directed to start at the top of my body and tense my forehead and eyebrows as hard as possible. After holding this slight discomfort, I experienced a gust of relief when I was told to release the tension. We proceeded muscle by muscle down our bodies. Intentional tension on inhales, followed by alleviation on exhales. Clenching our jaws, raising our shoulders, contracting our fists, squeezing our thighs, and following this pattern all the way to our toes.
Not only did this exercise provide tranquility for me in the moment, but the long term effects are more than worthy of mention. Before discovering this technique, I did not realize what my body would do in reaction to stress. After that group therapy session, I started become more conscious of the tension I would hold when I am anxious. In the midst of losing control, I would even hold my breath. Now, when tensions arise, I am starting to relax my shoulders or jaw or whatever else is not helping the situation. I am nowhere near perfect, but the growth is what matters. We cannot always control our environment or the calamity that enters it, but we do have the power to control our bodies to some extent.
We cannot always get a massage or break into a full yoga practice. We need a variety of coping skills for the variety of battles we encounter. I am confident this can help people who struggle with anxiety or other discomforting emotions. If not, you have nothing to lose if you try! Feel free to comment if you experience any relief with this exercise.
Love and Light,