Mind and Body Exercises: Lesson 2 of 4
In my previous post on creating space in your body, I offered progessive energy exercises to help you open your musculo-skeletal frame in a coordinated fashion to gain maximum benefit from ongoing training. If you’re not there yet, just keep working in this direction and don’t worry about achieving the ideal in any given timeframe.
As you practice, however, you want to transition from focusing more on your nerves and less on the muscles. For students who have begun training to open the entire musculo-skeletal frame simultaneously, you want to back off from stretching as described in my previous post.
Instead, you want to play with your range of motion, looking to stay within a comfortable stretch in physical motion so as not to activate any resistance in your nerves. The range of motion that is comfortable for your physical tissues (muscles, tendons, ligaments and fascia) may be far greater than that of your nervous system.
Energy Exercise for Releasing the Nerves + Increasing Relaxation
To find the sweet spot for your nerves, spend 10 minutes or so lying down on a comfortable surface doing focused breathing. Allow yourself to become as relaxed as possible.
Once you achieve a very easy, relaxed state, slowly and gently stand up and do the first move of your qi gong or tai chi form. (I don’t recommend practising bagua as it can fire up your bodily systems.)
As you do the form movement, focus on one or two points—both, if possible:
- Releasing your eyes; and
- Directly releasing your nerves.
The eyes and nerves are inextricably linked, so the eyes serve as a doorway to the nerves—either exciting or helping to calm nerve signals.
Repeat the qi gong or tai chi move several times, maintaining as much internal content as you can without allowing your nerves to become excited. You don’t want to fire up your nervous system at any part of the movement. If your eyes start to harden or your nerves or muscles start to contract in any way, you know you have gone past your two-thirds comfortable range.
Once you feel you’ve practised enough repetitions that you have the idea—without hitting any kind of internal resistance in body, mind or energy—take a break.
Then, practise the same qi gong or tai chi move several more times. However, this time return to your normal, larger range of motion and degree of intent.
Notice what happens to your nervous system. Does it harden or tighten to some degree? Do your eyes become fixated or intense? Do you find your breathing is intermittent or erratic?
Whatever the differences are, just make note of them. In the future, you can use these indicators to determine the appropriate range of motion for your tissues versus your nerves.
Finally, return to either a sitting or lying down position to release any tension you may feel in body/flesh, mind or qi from exceeding your two-thirds of effort.
Once released, practise your qi gong or tai chi movement while staying well within your nervous system’s comfortable range. Try to maintain as much internal content in your form as possible.
I’d recommend devoting at least a whole month to practising while staying within two-thirds of what your nerves can handle (in all the internal energy arts you train) to release lodged tension in the body, layer by layer. It’s a great way to increase the capacity of your nervous system and train your body to let go of—rather than hold onto—harmful stress and tension.
Continue on to Lesson 3 when you’re ready, which includes more specific methods for going even deeper inside to release bound tension and use the space you have created in your body with energy exercises for a healthy body and mind.