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Mindful : June 2014
Closely related to the grasping patterns many of us find in our visual field is the chronic strain and tension present in the facial muscles. Some of this is caused by the way we use the eyes themselves (par ticularly strain in the forehead). Other patterns can simply be the result of “holding” the facial muscles in cer tain habitual ways. Like the eyes, whenever you notice strain or holding in the face, practice completely releasing the face. Do this many times a day. In par ticular, focus on the following: 1 Let the flesh of the cheeks hang (you can lightly visualize weight pulling them down and releasing them). 2 Allow the forehead to soften (you can lightly visualize the sense of tension draining down as with the eyes). 3 Feel how fine the sensations are in the lips and the tongue (the mouth is the site of some of the most delicate sensations in the body and for this reason has been featured prominently in meditation instructions across many traditions). 4 After playing with these releases for a while, you will notice that they become second nature. Therefore, over time, shifts in attention become coupled with a softening response that has a power ful effect on the entire system. A good reference point for these adjustments is the face of a baby. When you study the facial physiology of babies and other mammals, the complete lack of excess tension, the “receptivity” in the facial tis- sues, and the general sense of equanimity are striking. → Release the Face 2 June 2014 mindful 75