Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Tuesday, Sept. 5: Options and Freedom


(This follows a posting on Options and how we sit in our chair at the computer on my Feldie site yesterday at WakeUp Feldenkrais.)

“Just relax,” someone might say, and we think, ‘Right. If I knew how to relax, I would.’

We know how to relax when we know how to relax, but what to do at other times. If we “try” to relax we usually defeat ourselves, as we do when we “try” to go to sleep. That’s because “trying” is involved with tensing up and constricting and pushing ourselves, all of which take us away from “just relax,” whatever that is.

Is there really an action we can take which is the action of “relaxing.” Well, there sort of is, but if we watch ourselves even a little, we’ll discover that we don’t “do” anything when we relax, as we “do” when we pick up a rock, or pull out a weed, or take a bite of an apple, or take a bite of a weed, or type a letter onto a page, or even read a string of words off a page.

When we “relax,” we do less of the over-working of our minds and muscles that feels tense, for the rather obvious reason that it is tense. We are holding, clenching, closing our muscles harder than they need to close, or maybe even clenching and tightening muscles that have nothing to do with what we are doing.

Example. Lifting that rock again, if it’s heavy and a lot of people will tense their jaw. The jaw does not contribute to rock lifting. Tensing the jaw contributes to a state where someone might tell us, or we might tell ourselves: “just relax.”

Now, if we notice that our jaw is tense and we tense it less, then we are relaxing, and we have more energy for lifting the rock, though we might not impress others as much with how hard we are “trying.”

Oh, well.

This fits in with the idea of options since one of the great games to “relaxing,” is to give ourselves three ways to do something that we habitually do. The there options are: more of what we are doing, the same as what we always did, and less of what we are doing.

Obvious. Once more The Elusive Obvious, as Feldenkrais title one of his books.

Let’s look at some examples again. Since almost everyone carries extra tension in the jaws, we can try this:
  • Tense our jaws more than usual.

  • Tense our jaws the “normal” amount.

  • Now tense our jaw a little less than “normal.”

  • And now, let's apply these more tensing, less and "normal," to our own custom area were we discover ourselves tighter than we wish we were.
  • Find an area in yourself that is tense right now, and see if you can make it a little more tense.

  • Now see if you can swing to slightly less than normal tension.

  • Then see if you can come back to the middle, the “normal,” and notice if this “normal” feels different now that you have options that you can create yourself.

  • In Byron Katie we do this with the thinking with which we drive ourselves crazy. We take a thought like: “So and so should be nicer to me.”
  • In one of the questions (#3: How do you react when you attach to this thought?), we get into how badly we feel when we go under the influence of the thought.

  • In another question (#4: Who would you be without this thought?), we check out the experience of a neutral point of not having our brain on this particular drug.

  • And in the “turn-around,” we try out the upside down of the thought: “I should be nice to so and so.”

  • Suddenly, once more, we aren’t stuck.

    Cool, eh?

    And back to Feldenkrais- land. Say we have scoliosis, a little or a lot, and always lean to the left, just a little or a lot. To do this simple action, so simple, so obvious, so effective, we once again try out the three:
  • Lean a little more than usual.

  • Lean a little less than usual.

  • Lean the “normal” amount.

  • Notice we can do this with any habit we find, and suddenly we are a laboratory in which we have tons of fascinating experiments, all of which will lead us to knowing what to do when someone says: “Just relax.”


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