The foundation of an efficient inner work is the capacity of producing a balance in our psychophysical structure. Efforts, intended as intentional actions which constantly increase cannot be sustained without a balance in ourselves; indeed, how could we increase or produce every kind of intentional action if we lack the necessary strength or, if you prefer, energy? Especially at the beginning of the work on oneself, the main attention has to be focused on increasing an inner balance rather than to efforts. As seen in the previous post, a state of balance corresponds to a relaxed state of being.
This is one of the “missing links” that are often forgotten in a work on oneself, never mind if we’ll label it as inner work, self-development, the “Work” or as any other noun. Even in such a work, people tend to put all their attention on intentional efforts and intentional sufferings without even knowing the real meaning of these terms, and they forget that no change can be realized without the necessary amount of energy. It’s true that attention and presence (two capital grounds of the skill of observation) have to be developed from the beginning, but they have to be developed through a gradual releasing of tensions and blocks during our daily life so that we could allow a possibility to experience and root ourselves in higher states of consciousness. This is the only effective way to achieve this aim. And here we can begin to speak about the discipline of conscious relaxation.
What do we mean by this term, conscious relaxation? It’s the capacity to relax not only when we lie down on our bed or on the ground performing relaxation practices, but to sense and feel our psychophysical field misfiring, contracting and blocked during our daily activities, in the precise moment when they happen. From this sensing of the tensions, our work begins: we have to find the “dams” that block or slow down the flow and demolish them gradually. We have to find the places in our body where our tensions express themselves and release them.
I feel a tension in the pit of my stomach? I’ll act so that I could release this tension. I feel my eyes tensed? I’ll relax them.
It appears easy, but with a little bit of practice, we’ll notice with disappointment that it is all but an easy task to be relaxed in face of the source which produces these mechanical tensions. What’s worse is that we’ll notice that these same tensions will present themselves over and over again.
At a risk to be boring, we’ll repeat once more the same statements because, even if they are fundamental, they are often ignored: the action prior to in an inner work is to release and crumble years and years of tensions and blocks concentrated throughout our body and useless movements which induces a huge imbalance and a great loss of energies that could be spent for our inner development.
How can we recognize these condensed tensions and these useless movements?
Of course, the answer is easy and obvious – we need attention and presence, but in practice, it’s all but easy. Fortunately, also in such work we have a sort of reciprocal mainteinance we had mentioned in the previous post and we’ll describe it a bit better here: presence induces us to notice, see, realize a tension; realizing induces us to act so that we may release it; this action releases the energy spent in this tension and feeds the presence so that we could notice and realize increasingly more.
There are some common parts in our body where tensions express themselves and we’ll name here some of the main ones:
- The contraction of the space between the eyebrows;
- Maintaining the jaw clenched;
- The contraction of the various parts of the face in determined situations, while speaking, reading, thinking, etc… Even the condescending smile such as a mask of suffering can be considered mechanical tensions of the face;
- The tendency to bend the back and closing the chest, or oppositely, expanding the chest too much (two different aspects of a tension);
- An unnatural posture of the shoulders that tend to be constantly contracted or to rise up excessively closing the neck and the higher part of the respiratory system.
We’ll also give some examples of useless and involuntary movements that can last for minutes without our awareness of them:
- Compulsively lifting and lowering the heels;
- Knocking with the fingers on a surface, for example a table or the legs;
- Compulsively moving the legs, scrubbing the hands, etc….
There is really a huge amount of unintentional movements that is impossible to name all; we just gave some common examples to give a better idea of what we are speaking about.
Another type of block that is usually confused as a normal thing, is the stiffening of muscles, but for the complexity of this topic, we’ll face it in another post.