Awareness heals. Awareness is the ultimate surgeon, mender, therapist.
Growing strong is a challenge that requires focused determination and action.
So does growing soft.
Massaging the body's knots with foam rollers and balls is not enough when the tension is mental.
After years of chronic built up body tension, relaxing is a challenging task in itself. The whole body feels like one big tension knot, contracted and tight - not tightness of muscular strength, but tightness of tension.
I lie down or sit in a chair, and bring my awareness to the body as a whole, with curiosity and care. Awareness is integrated: body-felt sensations, together with mental pictures, together with verbal thoughts. At first, the body is one tight blob, grey, dark, with shallow, quick breathing and conflicting thoughts.
I take one breath in, and on the exhale I loosen up whichever muscles are first to cooperate: the belly, the pelvic floor, the jaw. Another breath in, and on the next exhale the cooperative muscles soften a bit more, creating spaciousness and luminosity. Breath and thinking slows down. The dark, grey blob lightens up in some areas. I notice my thoughts, but pay attention less to their content, and more to their quality. Mental arguing dissipates and thoughts become more peaceful.
The head, neck and shoulders are the least cooperative in releasing tension. The front of the body lightens up first, at first in waves of warmth, and then the occasional muscle jolt of spontaneous release, followed by a sigh of relief. The mental images are more luminous, as if the dimmer's turned on brighter light. The belly and chest, more spacious, and the inhaling has become softer on the top, deeper, and more fulfilling.
The head begins to soften, at first the right hand side. The left side of the face and head, by comparison, feels dark, small, contracted, heavy, stuffy, the left eye squinting. The trick with Awareness is that it must be caring and non-judgemental, so instead of the old, habitual self-deprecating internal dialogue "Why the fuck can't I let go of tension?", I regard all of my feelings as being equally lovable parts of me, of the Self, some of them parts that I am aware of (the soft, bright, spacious ones), and some of them parts that I am not (yet) aware of (the tension, pain, gray heaviness).
Loving, caring Awareness washes over the entire self, dissolving whatever it's time to dissolve, accepting that which lingers, and then the stretch reflex kicks in, a sure sign of relaxation, and I stretch, and smile, and sigh with an audible 'Aah', and bubbles of energy percolate down the limbs, and I am a tad softer now, a bit lighter, brighter and more spacious.