On behalf of May the 4th, we looked deep into the film “Star Wars” for quotes relevant to today’s topic: recognizing tension.
“Hard to see the Dark Side is.” – Yoda (Replace “Dark Side” with “tension” please)
We don’t notice small differences in relaxation/tension as long as it is within our range of normalcy. This is dangerous because most people are accustomed to high levels of daily tension. Some tension is deeply rooted, associated with past experiences, and have had years of development, other tensions are from lingering injuries. We often see students who suppose they are very relaxed but physically display signs of deeply rooted tension.
We must start the day with a Beginner’s Mind. Avoid the temptation of assuming that we are finished progressing, or that we don’t need to revisit the fundamentals. Before we go to sleep at night we stretch and reach a few inches beyond our toes, when we get out of bed in the morning, we can’t reach much further than our ankles. Take it slow and easy or risk injury. We are all beginners.
“Clear your mind of questions.” – Yoda
While practicing internal work is demanding, slow, and difficult to understand, it can only be understood through patient practice. Questions may get in the way, so just go with it. Understanding is obtained over time, in its own time.
“Control, control, you must learn control.” – Yoda
Besides the typical methods of understanding and controlling tension (see Let Every Breath) We also recommend the following exercise: The Mental Movie Method
Lie down before bed and relax your body. Let every muscle grow heavy and still. Think of nothing but the task at hand. When you are comfortable, picture yourself performing a drill that you are unhappy with. Picture yourself enjoying the drill, picture how it feels to be relaxed, calm, slow, and confident. Do not picture techniques; only feelings and emotion. What does it feel like?
Practice this drill for 5-10 min every night until you see progress in your training. When you perform the drill you imagined, or any other similar drill, your body will remember what it felt like during relaxed meditation and try to duplicate those feelings.
Remember that tension is in the head as much as it is in the body. Judge your progress based on your level of comfort. If you are uncomfortable or agitated, that is a good sign you have work to do.
Finally, May the Fourth Be With You