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Mindful : June 2019
PRACTICE place,’” she recalls. But just two sessions later, he told her he couldn’t continue. “He was overwhelmed with the possibility of what real relaxation would mean for him,” she says. He told her, “It’s going to make me lose my edge. If I relax too much, how am I going to have the command and respect that I need to do what I do?” She was able to convince him to continue, but she recognizes how difficult it was for him “to get over to that place where relaxation didn’t mean surrender, loss of power.” Instead, she says, he learned how it could help him be “more deliberate about how he used his energ y, and how he took his rest, so he could be less reactionary and more purposeful.” Uncovering Tension Whether we consciously choose to hold tension or our bodies and minds do it for us, when we do, Pran- sky says, we feel in control. “ When we relax, we feel vulnerable.” Tension becomes our armor, holding the fear, worry, and vulnerability at bay. But eventually, inevi- tably, it fails us. With stress hormones coursing through our bloodstream, as we hold ourselves so tightly to stay “safe” that we forget to take a deep breath, we’re just one fender bender, one work crisis, one sad and senseless loss away from falling apart. That’s when we get sick. Or stop sleep- Open Sky Use this reset practice while looking at an open sky. Stand outside or in front of a window, or gaze at a photograph that features an expansive sky. Pause and sense where your body meets the ground. Soften excess gripping in your face, neck, and shoul- ders. Feel yourself landing completely. As you bring your attention to the flow of your breath, gaze into the openness of the sky. Follow your next three breaths as they come in from the space around you and expand into your body. Follow them as they move from the space inside you back out into the world around you. Notice the continuum of your breathing flowing from outside in and inside out. Feel how your breath connects you to the space around you. To finish, notice your feet on the floor and imagine your head—and your hear t—in the shape of the sky. Move into your next moment grounded and open. — Jillian Pransky PHOTOGRAPHLUKEMATTSON/STOCKSYUNITED 62 mindful June 2019