Posted on May 23rd, 2006

When we go about our daily lives without conscious awareness of how things are affecting us physically, mentally and emotionally, then we are experiencing stress and tension in a way similar to white noise. It’s there, but we’re not actively aware of it. It’s irritating us, but we’re not quite sure where or how. We can begin to free ourselves from tension by tuning in to this "white noise" and then making some simple adjustments.

Becoming Energy Efficient

If you furrow your brow when reading or concentrating, grip the steering wheel tightly when driving, or hunch your shoulders when sitting at the computer, you are exhibiting physical tension of the kind that burns your energy reserves and can lead to physical discomfort.

The ancient Eastern traditions of soft martial arts, such as tai chi, teach that there is a way to use the body to perform any physical activity in an actively relaxed state. Texts on the nature and flow of vital energy in the human body encourage us to explore how we move and work and to find a way of using our bodies in a flexible way that has stability, but not rigidity. It is when we become stiff and rigid that tension builds and we become achy and tired as a direct result.

It doesn’t need to take time, or get complicated. It’s simply a matter of becoming aware of how you do things, and then seeing how you can adjust to do them with minimal physical effort and strain.

Here are three simple steps to releasing tension modelled on the ancient art of active relaxation:

1. Get Conscious
The first step in reducing tension is to become consciously aware of it. Once you’ve done that, you can begin to do something about it. Practice mentally scanning your body regularly throughout the day and you will begin got notice key areas affected by tension.

2. Notice and Stretch
Now you’ve found the areas where tension strikes in you, take a deep slow breath and stretch them out. Adjust your posture and see if you can find a way to get more comfortable.

3. Play the Lightest Possible Touch Game
How lightly can you hold the wheel of your car when driving, and still feel perfectly safe and in control? How lightly can you hold the phone, a pencil, or a knife when you are cooking? Tension makes us grip things tightly. We don’t need to.

Tension is the underlying cause of most physical pain. Simply put, if we can reduce tension, we can reduce pain. It may take some practice and perseverance, but the rewards are quickly felt and well worth having.

Check point: Remember to check in on your neck and shoulders regularly. Give them a stretch and see if you can drop and relax your shoulders while working. Many of us hunch over our desks and end the day feeling unnecessarily achy as a direct result.

Ananga Sivyer is a contributing editor and health consultant for LifeScape magazine and the author of the self-help workbook: The Art & Science of Emotional Freedom

For more articles likes this or to sign up for her free "Energy Points" E-zine, visit her web-site at:

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