After working with your posture and settling into your alignments for a few minutes your are ready to begin the “art of letting go”. There are numerous ways to practice relaxing and if you have one that already works for you by all means keep on that path. It takes time to soften a habitually tense body/mind so perseverance is the key. Practice relaxing (Fang Song Gong) all the time in what ever situation your in, from your daily practice to your daily life. The affects are cumulative. The more you do it the deeper you go. Like I stated in the last post on Regulating the Body I work from my feet up to my head on alignments and then I smoothly flow down my body relaxing it inch by inch. When I first started practicing I would only be able to relax “chunks” of my body because my awareness was not smooth enough to penetrate the minute details and tensions that I had stored in my body/mind. After awhile though my awareness smoothed out and my attention increased and I was able to feel a deeper relaxation. Remember perseverance is the key, don’t get frustrated you might feel like your “forcing it” at first but your actually just letting go. Also like I explained in Regulating the Body part 1Qigong relaxing is more of a sinking and expanding feeling not a collapsing feeling like you experience when you “plop” down in a chair after a long day at work. Here we go.
After reaching the top of your head with your alignments switch your attention to relaxing downward. Starting at the very crown of your head (Bai Hui) the sensation should spread to all areas of your head from the front, sides, and back. Feel all the tension in your head flowing down into your neck. Feel your neck relaxing on all sides. Your shoulders, arms, upper chest and back are relaxing feel all the tension draining downward. Feel your abdomen lower back relaxing. Feel your pelvis, hips and thighs relaxing. Feel your knees especially behind your knees relaxing. Your calves and ankles are relaxing downward. Feel your feet relaxing, feel all the tension draining out your feet. Repeat from the top of your head as many times as you wish. Perseverance is the key
This is the path I take for relaxing after adjusting my structural alignments. You can go as fast or slow as your awareness can handle with still having the ability to relax. Some days I breeze through the sequence and I feel relaxed and lighter, other days I go painstakingly slow and relax every nook and cranny on my body. Which gives me moments of deep relaxation. One thing I have learned over the years is when it comes to relaxing just go with how you feel in that moment. If you “try” to hard to relax you will just tense up more. So if one day you skim through your body and get minor relaxation don’t stress about it maybe the next day you can spend a greater amount of time on relaxing and you might release some deeper held tensions that have been there for years. Play with relaxing, don’t turn it into a chore have fun with it. In the next post in this series we will be discussing Regulating the Breath, see you then.