Mindfulness of the body helps me realize how much tension my body holds. Paying attention to where my body holds tension during sitting meditation helps me be aware of where the tension builds. It also helps me understand how that tension feels like its preventing energy from moving through my body.
I’ve been increasingly aware of how much tension my stomach holds for a few years now. Working with a therapist first helped me realize this. I now feel it as I’m sitting to meditate. First my stomach tenses. Then my body begins to collapse around it.
My shoulders slump forward. My neck cranes forward. My back arches. I start to close in on myself. This is a reminder to sit up straight again. The instruction I received from Lodro Rinzler comes to mind. He says to imagine a string pulling your head up and aligning your spine. This usually helps me. I try and do this with awareness. I press through my sitbones, extending my neck up. I drop my shoulders and press them back a bit. Then I have to remind myself to breathe. These actions help me settle back into my session. I start to breathe again.
Energy feels like it gets unstuck when I do this. The combination of posture and breathing allow this to happen. I have started to carry this through to my daily life. I spend most of my daily life in front of a computer doing tech, OPS and M&A consulting. I’m also an avid cyclist. My habitual tendency is to hunch over my laptop or handlebars. I try and carry the posture I use on the meditation cushion to my desk chair and bike seat.
The free Mindful Mynah app works well for me. It rings at random intervals while I work. The bells remind me to get up and stretch. This helps restore clarity and focus to my thinking. I do this on the bike when my breath begins to feel constricted. I straighten my back and try and align my spine. This helps my breathing and results in improved performance.
I offer these as two examples of how my meditation practice translates into my life off the cushion. I feel grateful that it does.
Where do you notice tension when you mediate? How do you release it? Please share your experience in the comments.