Instant Relaxation Tip
This tip just saved my spine at work as I finally figured out how to sit comfortably at a computer.
- Drop your jaw slightly. This means that the mouth will be open a crack.
- Rest your tongue lightly in the bottom of your mouth. However, the tip of the tongue should ever-so-lightly point up and touch the palate just behind the front teeth.
- Rather than “inhaling” (intentionally sucking air in), instead let air just draw into your body through the nose and mouth simultaneously as it wants. Let the diaphragm move up and down as it wants. No effort is involved. If you have been tensed for a while before doing this, you may “pant” a little as the body restores itself to baseline.
I figured out this tip while replying to Yason about avoiding pain while meditating. Read the whole conversation — I gave him some useful advice. I then began applying the same breathing pattern at work which has helped me immensely.
Before this, I was tending to tense my jaw while working. This adds a sense of urgency to thoughts, which can then become a feedback loop of tense thoughts creating muscle tension and vice versa. This also tended to result in me eventually holding my breath, which spikes blood pressure and contributes to the feedback loop.
The shape of your face dramatically alters which muscles in your body are used for breathing — and the “locus” of the breath (chest, belly, etc.). Tensing the jaw tends to move the locus of the breath upwards to create tight chest breathing. Dropping the jaw instantly lowers the locus of breathing back down the spine to the diaphragm area. This also loosens off the muscles of the lower back and makes one sit up straighter automatically. A nice breathing wave is established which moves up the spine in sequence, keeping everything loose. With jaw tensed, my whole back would tend to lock up and eventually, after some hours, begin to spasm.
An interesting thing is that the new face and breathing configuration took some time and applied conscious awareness to establish as a new habit while working at the computer. For example, I would notice how my jaw would automatically (out of habit) go to tense up when I received a new email. The jaw tensing starts the thought process of “negative judging” (frustration at getting the email); the body then locks up due to the new breathing pattern and the feedback loop has begun. Whatever I look at while in this state I am going to feel frustrated. This is the same way you might “know” you’re anxious because your body feels tense. You check your body to find out how you feel about something. This can largely be unconscious, the body’s inputs plugged seamlessly into the judging circuit.
I am pretty amazed I didn’t spot this pattern sooner. Dropping the jaw and letting normal breathing resume as per the above method broke this loop before it ever got properly started. It has revolutionized how I feel about sitting down to get things done, as I have found it was largely the apprehension about sitting down at the computer and knowing I would be feeling tense and painful that was stopping me settling in.
Another great thing was that, on my break, I went and walked around the shops while lightly maintaining the new face and breathing pattern. Because it loosens off the spine, posture and walking is made lighter and more fluid. It is also easier to smile naturally since there is no jaw tension resisting it. Again, it was interesting to see which inputs triggered old tension habits and thought loops, and simply letting the jaw drop and touching my tongue to my palate broke those loops just as well as it did while sat at the computer.
If you have problems with feeling tense, I recommend you begin implementing this new habit and stay with it till it’s automatic.