Bodies are amazing.
Think about all the things they do without us really having to think about it. Hearts beat, food digests, white blood cells fight wars, skin regenerates… all this with only our intermittent awareness.
Until something stops working.
In the past, I’ve lost range of motion without really realizing it. This week, that same pain in my neck and shoulder reappeared but worse. A doctor visit revealed that my subscapularis – an interior muscle in my right shoulder – is knotted and hard with tension, radiating problems up my neck and across my clavicle.
Upon discovering it, the chiropractor said “Holy sh— um, wow, this is really tight.”
The massage therapist said, “Well, if you were an animal, that section of meat would have to be stewed a LONG TIME before it would be edible.”
You know what caused this hidden tension?
Holding a mouse.
Repetitive strain from sitting at a desk, maneuvering a little piece of plastic for hours, days and years. A simple action that, stacked up moment after moment, year after year, has locked up a muscle I didn’t even know I had.
I think we all have these hidden tensions, not just in our bodies, but it our hearts and minds too. The memories we think are long gone, but are hard and calcified in our hearts. The biases and assumptions that lie underneath our gnawing worries and resentments. The limiting beliefs that keep us from even looking for a better solution.
Therapeutic interventions exist for your spirit and intellect too of course, to help reveal and resolve these tensions. But injuries, stiffness, or immobility that took years to create probably won’t be resolved with merely an insight or directive.
Just like I can’t just tell my subscapularis to relax, you can’t just decide to let biases or assumptions go and be done with it. They are hidden, supporting other beliefs, subtly creating other pain, without you even being aware of them.
Two good questions I’ve been using are these:
“What’s going on here?”
“What am I unwilling to feel right now?”
When you’re feeling disgruntled or afraid, and you’re aware that your response is overblown for the reality of the situation, try, if you can, to ask yourself one of those questions.
Be curious. Be gentle. Be patient. Hidden tensions are hidden for a reason, and they’ve likely been buried for a long time.
Patient inquiry and attention to your habitual reactions, emotions and thoughts may show you the hiding place of your real hurt. The hard, hot tense rock that everything else in your mind must make space for.
Being someone who believes in a mind-body connection, and being someone who’s meditation practice has featured shooting shoulder pain for the past several weeks, I’m asking those same questions of that muscle too. Is it just repetitive stress, or is that muscle, so close to my heart, part of the structure that helped an asthmatic little kid breathe, on the side of my body that represents control, holding on to an even deeper hidden tension? Can I resolve that belief so that this muscle can finally let go and move freely?
What’s really going on here?
What am I afraid to feel?
Ergonomic exercises for our souls.
What do you think? Does this resonate with you? Let me know in the comments below. And, if you like what you read, consider subscribing to my blog using the subscribe link at the top of the page. I’ll never share or sell your information, and you’ll get the latest posts delivered straight to your mail box. Thanks!