Techniques to help you reduce tension in your body – Focusing

Tension word cloudWe all have tension in our bodies from time to time. Some of us carry tension most of the time, so that we may even accept it as part of who we are.

And we often use techniques to reduce the tension, without addressing the causes. So we exercise, practise yoga, have a massage, practise relaxation therapy, watch TV – and this is all great, and can work very well.

Sometimes we know or guess what is causing the tension. It could be long periods driving, or sitting at a computer, work or relationship difficulties, or a myriad of other things. And sometimes we know that these things might be causing tension and that there might be something else as well – something that we can’t quite put into words.

I think it can help if we can accept that the tension may be trying to help us, to tell us something.

To look at this in a Focusing way, I suggest that you settle yourself comfortably. If you look here, I have written a short script which might help you to bring yourself into the present moment, and bring awareness to your body, and there is an audio file as well to help you do this without having to read the script.

Now bring your awareness to the part where you perceive the tension – it might be your shoulders, your back, your jaw, your abdomen – or anywhere. Stay here for a while and be curious about this place. Is there a word, an image, a metaphor, or maybe a colour that describes what you’re feeling here? Test out, in your mind, anything that comes to you, to see if it really ‘gets’ it. If you are Focusing with a companion, see if it feels right to say this aloud. As your companion says it back to you, check if the word, phrase, etc, still fits.

Then if it feels right, you might ask your body if there is another part that is linked with this tense part. It might be that this is is a part that wants to be heard. It’s not always immediately obvious, so it’s worth spending some time here, being curious about why this part of your body has a connection with the tension.

Be kind to yourself, and patient – felt senses (for this is what they’re called) don’t always come straightaway. Sometimes they do and we sense connections quite quickly, and it can feel like – ‘Well that’s so obvious why didn’t I realise before?’! And sometimes we might need to just stay with it while the sense forms. When this word, picture, phrase is right, the whole felt sense stirs and eases slightly – a sort of ‘Ah, yes, that’s it’ feeling. It sometimes is a sort of ‘remembering something that you thought you’d forgotten’ feeling.

It’s good to stay with this for a while. It may change, and you may become to be aware of the link between ‘it’ and the tension.

Sometimes it feels right to lay your hand on this place; or there might be an emotional quality about it. You might choose to ask your body to show you how it would feel if everything is alright. If it feels right, you might ask this part of you what it needs.

Whatever comes, be curious about it. Take time to get to know more about it – even say ‘hello’ to it – it will often change.

And be curious about the changes too. Keep checking how it feels in your body, and take time – sometimes these parts of us show themselves slowly.

After a while, you might feel that the time is right to stop. Do check within you to see if your body wants to make you aware of anything else before you end, and then give yourself a few minutes to get used to being in the everyday world again.

Recently, the person who was Focusing with me had tension and discomfort and it was preventing her from noticing much else in her body, and she was finding it difficult to settle into Focusing. I suggested that she Focus on this tension and discomfort.

She could feel the discomfort, describe it and where it was, and then not much else. It was only when she said ‘hello’ to it, that it began to change. This proved a turning point in her Focusing session, and other things arose that she had not realised were linked until then.

When you learn Focusing, you are re-learning something we have all had within us, and many of us have forgotten. For some this re-learning comes quickly, and for others it takes a little longer – and that’s okay.

I would love to hear your thoughts on all of this, and you can comment below, contact me here, or sign up for my newsletter here.

I offer Focusing 1:1 and in small groups – face-to-face and by Skype.