Unhinged by Beth Blair

December 20, 2016

Recently, I read something very simple that brought me to a new perspective.  I was reading about relaxation verses meditation. Many people use mediation as a way to relaxation.  The Ah-ha moment I had is that relaxation is a practice in and of itself. Let me repeat that…Relaxation is a practice. Well, this opened a can of worms…what am I practicing? I did a very simple relaxation technique, working my way through the body, bringing awareness to each part and relaxed it. What I found was an unbelievable amount of tension in my body and a pattern of holding that has been literally holding me back! When I, actually, relaxed my body, my mind relaxed and I went into a very (unplanned) meditation.

This little test drive has created this practice I am calling “Unhinged”. The place I found the most tension was in my jaw. Now, the practice of relaxation can be useful to aid in a meditation (as I discovered).  The greater value is in the moment by moment practice of relaxation.  It is not sitting in a relaxed state for 30 minutes that brings the power.  It is the relaxation that comes with noticing where tension is being held as an old pattern, practice or posture. As people think about practices, most think of it as something to do to improve, change and grow.  What I would like to shine the headlight on is the blatant fact that we practice many things in our lives…we practice tension, fear, worry, anxiety, hate.  We practice holding, shielding, stoic stances and hiding as much as we practice yoga, Tai Chi, exercise, meditation and the other “good” things.

My jaw has been my sentinel for many years.  Holding me together. Showing to the world I can get through the preverbial “shit storm” that has been my perspective of my life of loss, limits and frustrations that have me pushing through life. I have literally held a stiff upper lip for the better part of 40 years. My exterior has been held together by my jaw holding up my body when I haven’t wanted to go on, when I had to move to another town, when I have lost loved ones in broken relationships or to cancer and death, when I have felt failure in business, career changes, and fear of being successful. My jaw has shielded my heart from lost love, unrequited love, self-loathing, judgement and so many things.

I hold my jaw when I concentrate.  I hold it when I work or paint or clean and even when I shave my legs (is that really necessary???!!!)! It has become a deep-rooted PRACTICE.  I am a Master at holding tension in my jaw. There is a powerful fascial line that connects the tongue all the way down to the toes.  When I hold my jaw, my tongue pushes to the roof of my mouth, lifting my jaw and then the masseters (the chewing muscles) lock the jaw down all the way to my toes! So, the practice of becoming “Unhinged” is very simple…place your tongue on the bottom of your mouth and feel the difference…start noticing the holding…practice relaxing the jaw. See how you become “unhinged”.

Unhinged has been defined as without hinges, unsettled, disordered, upset or unglued. So, as I use it as a practice, I am wanting to free the holding patterns I have created…removing those things that have created the unsettling, the disorder and the upset.  As I practice being “Unhinged” new sensations are showing up that are unsettling as well, but they are healing this 40 years of holding.  This is a relatively new practice for me. What I am learning is that I hold my jaw A LOT!!! By “Unhinging” I am softening my physical affect, and my internal affect. It creates a softness and strength.  It creates balance by letting go of tension. I can actually settle and relax!

I have been working to heal a case of tendinitis in my elbow for the better part of 2 months.  As a massage therapist, there is little rest for the elbow and forearm, if I am wanting to continue to make a living.  What I noticed in day two of my “unhinged” practice is that my elbow hurt less.  As I work to relax my jaw, it is creating a domino effect on my arm, my posture and my state of mind. It is an unwinding of more than fascia. It is simple and complex…it is a discipline and rest…are you ready to be “unhinged”?