We tend to tense our muscles as a reaction to stressful situations, or even stressful thoughts. It is of course a preparation for fight or flight response. Over time, the nature of our perceived dangers and stresses have changed and become more generalized and pervasive. I know for myself I never used to be aware of how often I do this, or how many muscle groups I would tighten. This kind of reaction can be unwittingly repeated for years. It becomes a false measure of normal. It dawns on me, many of us are wearing invisible suits of armor, no less heavy and resistant than their clumsy, steel predecessors. The problem is as we think we are guarding against unwanted situations, we also compromise our ability to feel pure joy, well being, improving health, love, abundance; to translate the good in a sensory or mental way, allowing it into our experience.
Massage can certainly help and meditation or progressive relaxation techniques are great. As a massage therapist I certainly feel and sense the sheath of armor-like muscles on many people. We spend precious energy maintaining this silent state of tension.
For myself, I’ve begun taking note more regularly and consciously, releasing my tightened (for no good reason) muscles with breath and loving thought. I think this is a part of what is meant by — change your thoughts, change your life.
The more we focus on self love and extending love, the more love comes into our lives and the less often we feel vulnerable. Removing the invisible ‘armor’ definitely allows the body and heart lighter, freer feelings and a stronger desire to interact with the blessings of life.
We can become so unaccustomed to deeply positive feelings that we are suspicious of them or at the very least need to practice feeling them. Practice allowing the heart to swell, to radiate, tingles to ripple up the spine, happy tears to fall freely, mouths to smile, feet to tap dance.
Massage is always a great way to begin to let go of tension you don’t realize you are ‘wearing’!
I’d love for everyone to get massages because massage feels good and they want to pamper themselves — instead of because they are hurting.
In reaction to stress, we often tighten or tense up our muscles. Clients will say, “I carry my stress in my…” For many it is shoulders, (upper traps), neck, (scalene and levator scapulae), for others it might be the forehead (tension headaches might be happening) or their hips. I’ve even had people tell me they carry their stress in their knees and feet. Tensing up may cause digestive issues for some. Tense muscles are a kind of invisible barrier to stress, challenges, sadness, trauma, that we try to create. We are attempting to protect ourselves. Barriers create resistance to the flow of life and in the case of tense muscles, they impede our movement. In fight or flight situations, this natural response is positive, necessary, but in many cumulative stressful situations this tensing reaction creates restriction for our bodies, mind, heart and soul.
I say body, mind, heart and soul because I value the concept of wholeness. We are whole beings! I believe your body is a communication device for your mind, heart and soul! It is wise to keep our communication system (body) pain-free and flowing; an open conduit! Be aware of tense muscles creating resistance in your flow and dance with life. It may happen slowly over time or in sudden response to some significant life transition. Allow yourself time to do physically relaxing activities for body and mind. A few options might be: Simple stretching, a few minutes of deep, slow breathing, meditation, yoga, deeper, gentle, longer stretches and certainly massage! Actually anything that brings you joy will aid in relaxing your muscles! Sing, play an instrument, be in nature, dance, catch up with a dear friend. In essence — be good to yourself and flow with life!
Learning in love!