Instant Relaxation Tip

This tip just saved my spine at work as I finally figured out how to sit comfortably at a computer.

  1. Drop your jaw slightly. This means that the mouth will be open a crack.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

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14 Responses

  1. Yason says:

    Well, I was only gonna apply this only during meditation but now it’s the latest addition to my “parts of me I used to tighten all the time and I now have to keep relaxed all the time” list allong with my perineum-anus, belly, shoulders and throat! The only thing I have successfully changed and it’s now relaxed all the time are my knees which I used to lock but now they are slightly bent all the time without my command.

    • Illuminatus says:

      Sounds like you are trying to do too much as once which will paradoxically increase tension. Instead focus on a known problem area (the jaw in this post) and just get the breath gently going in and out while keeping that one area loose — the breath will take care of the other muscles because breathing is a wave which turns on all muscles sequentially in a gentle contract-relax motion.

      • Yason says:

        Maybe you’re right, I’ll focus on the jaw alone for the time being, it’s easier to focus on that than lower body parts.

  2. PsySeducer says:

    Every time there’s a new article I hope Iluminatus found the secret muscle/bodypart that gives instant total relaxation like a perfect fall switch. I think hes getting very close and my bet is somewhere on the neck area or maybe a position of the diafragm. Anus is overated because it doesnt guarantee clear breathing lane, I could suffocate and keep my anus relaxed.

  3. James says:

    when I want to relax, I take a deeeeeeep breath and fill my entire body, expaning my rib cage thinking of filling every inch of my body. You’ll feel muscle knots and all kinds of discomfort when you breath in this deep.

    Then release slowly, relaxing your whole body on the out breath, you can feel the energy of “relaxation” happen, its a tingly pleasant sensation. Tune into it and make it deeper each time.

    I find you don’t have to really “target” anywhere doing this – as long as you keep tuning into the relaxation response, you will go through tension layer by layer.

  4. sevens! says:

    Yes! I do this a lot. I like what Dr. Regardie says; to imagine your body as covered with pores (it really is) and let air just pass through you.

  5. Jos says:

    This is one of the tips I won’t be using, as I have my mouth naturally open (slightly) most of the time.

    The magic muscle is the tongue. It is soft in the middle to allow breath, food and vomit but very rigid by the sides and deeper into the throat. Singers and people that train their voices relax it by touching with either their fingers or some kind of stick and learning to relax it. It appears to be a lot of micromuscles, a kind of map of the body, it is almost impossible to stop it moving, the more you try to relax it the more it rebels. If self-expression is the block as Illuminatus said, then relaxing the tongue should wipe off years of tension, even if it comes back after the exercise. In the book I found this there were people reporting seeing childhood memories that were somehow related to self-expression; and I don’t remember if the author or these people said they didn’t want to say they found a psychological panacea… Now we not only store tension from lack of self-expression, the tongue is the instrument we use for thinking, I have sometimes noticed my tongue making micro-movements even while dreaming, so full relaxation is probably mind relaxation too. There’s an NLP trick in which you pinch your tongue with your fingers to stop some thought. You may want to explore it a little.

  6. Moviestar says:

    Works!

  7. N says:

    So am I placing my tongue against the roof of my mouth?

    Thanks for sharing as always

    • Illuminatus says:

      “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.”

      How could I be any more specific than that?

      Illuminatus: “Do X”
      N: “So, I do Y?”

      *Sigh*

      • N says:

        The palate is the roof of the mouth Illuminatus. You mean to rest your tongue behind the bottom row of front teeth? Or the top row of front teeth? I was asking for clarification because I am confused as to what you mean. Thank you regardless

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