How to use breath work to undo physical stress

Posted on April 13, 2010
Filed Under Breathing practices, Buddhism, meditation, Taoism, Taylor Ellwood | Leave a Comment

I’ve been feeling some physical tension in my shoulders and neck lately, and decided to do some breathing meditation to help me undo the tension and stress. I’ve found that using meditation to do this has been very helpful in allowing me to undo a lot of physical stress. The way to utilize meditation to undo stress is to focus on feeling the physical sensations of stress, while also focusing on your breath. The normal inclination is to avoid pain, or ignore it. But ignoring pain or avoiding it isn’t really a solution and ultimately can lead to further problems.

Learning to sit with pain seems to go counter to every instinct we have, and yet by sitting with your pain, and feeling it, you can actually begin to undo the cause of the pain. I breathe in and as I do so, I bring my attention to a focal point. When I breathe out, I guide my attention to the stress point, and begin to massage it, visualizing whatever I needed to visualize to help me understand the tension I feel. I breathe in again, drawing more attention and energy to a focal point, and then breathe out, releasing it to that place of tension, where it continues to work to untie the tension I feel.

Within a few breaths I can feel the pain begin to loosen it’s hold as muscles relax and unclench. I feel the pain, but instead of letting it define me, I define its healing with my breath. It continues to loosen up because the breath work provides a rhythm to approach the feeling and releasing of it. Memories and emotions may arise with the release of physical tension and stress, and I will sit with them as well, acknowledging and feeling them, so that I can learn and let go.

This is how I undo physical and sometimes emotional/mental stress. I use my breath and consciousness as a tool. I choose to feel the pain, to embrace it, and thus release it, because I no longer feel compelled to be held down by it. Instead of avoiding it, which actually increases its hold on me, I surrender to it, and in surrender come to understand it, and thus come to peace with it. And all it involves is breathing and focusing your awareness on the tension you feel, so that you can gradually loosen it and let it go

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