By Dr. Erin Westaway
Try this. Close your eyes. Check in with your body. Notice your back, your abdomen, your face, your neck, your knees. Note anywhere where you are holding your muscles. Notice where your breath feels tight or difficult. Now think of a situation that stresses you out. Did you tense those areas more? Did you tense new areas? Playing with this simple exercise is one way you can start to identify where you are losing energy through the day.
Many of us hold muscles unnecessarily all the time. We do it instinctively, usually when we are trying to protect ourselves from something real or imagined. We do it even when we don’t realize we’re doing it; even when we’re not conscious of being under stress or feeling anxious. It turns out that holding those muscles doesn’t actually tend to protect us from most of the situations we do it in. It doesn’t even make those muscles nice and toned. It mostly just compresses, shutting off the flow of blood, breath, and energy through our bodies and to our vital organs. It sends more signals to our brain that we should be stressed or anxious. It’s pretty much just a literal waste of energy. Imagine what you could do with all the energy that goes into holding those muscles all day long!
Building awareness is part of breaking the patterns of how we lose our energy. We can’t change the pattern if we don’t know it’s there. You can work with simple exercises like this at home. In person bodywork and biofeedback can also be a nice complement to help you become more aware of patterns you can’t even see yet.