"Start from the circumference -- that's where we are, and we can start only from where we are. Relax the circumference of your being -- relax your body, relax your behavior, relax your acts. Walk in a relaxed way, eat in a relaxed way, talk, listen in a relaxed way. Slow down every process. Don't be in a hurry and don't be in haste. Move as if all eternity is available to you -- in fact, it is available to you. We are here from the beginning and we are going to be here to the very end, if there is a beginning and there is an end. In fact, there is no beginning and no end. We have always been here and we will be here always...
And if the body listens, mind also listens, but you cannot start with the mind -- you have to start from the beginning. You cannot start from the middle. Many people start with the mind and they fail; they fail because they start from a wrong place. Everything should be done in the right order.
If you become capable of relaxing the body voluntarily, then you will be able to help your mind relax voluntarily. Mind is a more complex phenomenon. Once you have become confident that the body listens to you, you will have a new trust in yourself. Now even the mind can listen to you. It will take a little longer with the mind, but it happens.
When the mind is relaxed, then start relaxing your heart, the world of your feelings, emotions -- which is even more complex, more subtle" --Osho
Even though I knew that yoga would work my body, I kept coming back to my practice because I knew that it was also working on my mind. Some would say that the state of the body reflects the state of the mind. Now I'm sure we've all known some uber flexible yoga teacher who might be small-minded or judgmental. As usual, there's never an always and never a never. Still, I've found in my life that as I've worked on releasing tension in my body, my mind has become more flexible. And while being able to put my hands on the ground in Standing Forward Bend is nice and all, having a flexible mind is much more important and helpful in my daily life.
[Blogger's Note: Today my body is feeling...less than flexible. Yep, I overdid the snow shoveling yesterday (although I'm sure my mailperson sure is glad that my mailbox is dug out and easily accessible) so last night and today I've been focusing on gently opening my body with spinal flexes, squat, and movements from these posts: Detox Sunday and Snow Shoveling Backache Yoga.]
It makes sense to me that body tension leads to mental tension. Just think about the amount of energy it takes to maintain a tense body. It's exhuasting both physically and mentally. About 5 years ago I got seriously curious about how much tension I held in my body. I was shocked to discover that I was constantly tensing my body. It was some sort of unconscious habit for me. If I was having an argument with my guy, my body tensed up. If I was experiencing pleasure, my body tensed up. If I was concentrating on work, my body tensed up. All of that tension wasn't serving me and I realized that my body was dying to let it all go. It wasn't until I started paying attention to it that I was able to release it. Of course my yoga practice and Rolfing helped.
What if you could release judgments, change your thinking, become more focused, be happier...just by working with you body? [Hint Hint: I don't practice yoga because I want to lift my butt and get a six pack.] Now if you believe yourself to be hopelessly inflexible, that doesn't mean that you're doomed. The key is to loosen up your body (for some people that will mean standing in forward bend with your hands resting above your knees), not necessarily concentrating on the degree to which you loosen it.
Take a minute right now and notice what's happening in your body. Are you tense? Are your muscles clenched? Take 3 minutes right now to increase your flexibility -- it could be spinal flexes or a Sun Salutation or two or deep breathing or standing in place while shaking your body or simply staying in your chair while letting your upper body rest on your thighs with your arms dangling towards the floor (coupled with deep breathing).
Taking frequent breaks like this throughout the day can help you break your body's pattern of tension and introduce flexibility. Little by little you can change your body's holding patterns. And where your body goes, your mind is sure to follow...
If you're looking for a little tension relieving help, check out these resources:
These detoxing exercises are perfect of purging toxins and tension from your body.
For those of you who love opening your hips, this 11-minute Kundalini Yoga set will have you saying ahhhhhh in no time: