The Restlessness Exercise

posted in: Stress & Anxiety | 0

If you get a lot of shoulder, upper back and neck pain, and manual therapy or massage or stretching is only of temporary benefit, try this. It helps if you’ve had some mindfulness training. It’s not easy. But if you can do it it’s a great teacher…

Sit somewhere quiet and simply place your awareness – your interested attention – in your upper back and shoulders, or your shoulders and neck. Wherever you’re used to feeling discomfort.

Observe the feeling of tension or ‘holding’ or tiredness or aching or whatever it is. That’s all; just observe. Keep your attention on these sensations. Allow yourself to map the extent of the sensations – where they start, where they appear to finish. And Notice what they are like.

If you can keep your attention on these feelings they will grow in intensity. You’ll start to want to shift around, alter your position, wriggle, stretch, etc. But don’t. But DO notice the feeling of wanting to; the desire to make yourself more comfortable. It’s like an itch you’re deciding not to scratch.

This takes a lot of will power; noticing uncomfortable sensations – and not doing anything about them.

In fact the worse they get, the more you relax into them. Let them do what they want; don’t get in the way. Let them get on with it.

Stay curious; be interested in the feelings, but don’t control them. Watch and see what happens. These are nervous system programmes; they’re not the real you.

What will happen – eventually – is that your brain will either transform the feelings into heat, tingling, buzzing, or some other ‘nervous energy’ feelings, or it will bring on an emotion. If it’s an emotion it might start with irritability. This is common. Or it might be sadness. Or it might be fear. Sometimes it’s a mixture of feelings. It could be anything. But it will be relevant.

One thing’s for sure; the intensity of the muscle discomfort will drop – because your brain has transformed muscle tension into something more useful. Now transformation can begin…

Have fun.

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