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Relaxation vs ROM: Interesting Article

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  • 2 months later...

Hi! The subject is very interesting, I'd like to share my thoughts about it.

I think the key point is " What about being less tense in daily life?" 

In my daily life, I don't have a lot of time left for relaxing tecniques. But I need to be less tense.

For this reason, I changed my approach to movement (or stillness). I continuosly direct my attention to my body, trying to locate excessive tensions. Once located, I release the tensions one at a time.

It is very hard and energy consuming at the beginning, but now I comfortably do it 24/24. Great form of meditation, to me.

After developing this kind of awareness, I tried a "do everything as if for the first time" approach.

So now, when I move, I do it without preconceived ideas about the movement, the tension needed and my body's ability to move. No pre-tension, no expected necessary tension. I try to "feel" the movement in the very moment. Like a baby, exploring the world.

There is another kind of tension, which I call post-tension. After an injury or a hard, demanding exercise, my body remembers some tension. The point here is to continuosly forget this "history" of the physical body. I'm not there, yet :)

I hope this can be interesting for somebody,


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  • 2 weeks later...

Corrado: thanks for sharing; this is my approach exactly, as you may know. For me, the gateway was the lying meditation/deep relaxation practises, pursued daily for years; now it's natural to me. Relaxation is a habit; it can be learned and cultivated, and endlessly refined. There are many paths, most likely, but awareness of the feeling/state is essential. To actively feel what not doing feels like is the key.

Evolution of, and refinement of, a speedy elicitation of the fight or flight syndrome got the human race into its current state (and we see this everywhere around us); relaxation's time has come and it is now. Relaxation is the parasympathetic nervous system's role (the opposite to the fight or flight response, mediated by the sympathetic nervous system, the opposite system) and we live in an era where, perhaps for the first time in the history of the species, the capacity to relax when the s$%^ is hitting the fan will confer tangible advantages on to the practitioner. I wrote about this in Overcome neck & back pain, BTW.

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DW and I just recorded the second "Coffee Shop Conversation"; I may be able to edit this and get it up on Vimeo tomorrow. We expand on this thread (especially the learned relaxation part) in this conversation.

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Excellent topic and very insightful posts.

I feel like the paradigm of trying to rationalize this concept is partly to blame for it's evasiveness.

Let me elaborate, from a practitioners point of view. He/she has had a profound experience in for example laying relaxation. After the dissociation we immediately recreate tension by trying to rationalize what had just happened (how, what, can I recreate this etc.). When in my opinion we should let the feeling linger, maybe gently lapse back into it, basically let the feeling be present throughout the rest of the day.  Also having preconceptions of what is supposed to happen, how this is supposed to feel makes us evaluate our own experiences and can hinder our progress. 

And from a teachers point of view. You might have it perfectly understood, but trying to convey it via language is always prone to misinterpretations. There's the practitioners ego, preconceptions and cognitive abilities, so the interpretation is always individually subjective. For example I read the story of the samurais on the last page, and my ego immediately told me "I wanna be a master too", and I utterly failed to grasp any deeper meaning to the story. 

I feel like trying to understand first and then do is a western thing. In the time I've spend with eastern teachers they rarely explain but make you do. And I am a strong advocate of learning by doing, if there's profound insights to be had, I am sure they will come to me in time by letting them when the time is right. 

Also thank you Kit for letting me on this forum (and pointing this conversation). I'm also quite conscious about my skills in english (it being my 3rd or 4th language depends how you count), so I hope you all can understand me (these concepts are quite challenging language wise).

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This fascinating thread is quite technical. I'm going for an anecdotal response.

What I have noticed in babies is they experience life from a pure place. If they are upset their bodies stiffen and you can literally feel the wail well up inside them before they release a vocal blow wave. When they are happy there is a palpable softening in the body as they contentedly nestle into your arms. A baby doesn't pretend, it's experience is purely in the moment. So if you are tense, they will sense it in a hot second. Hold a baby, they are a marvelous barometer, giving instant feedback on your state of being. Go soft.

"More Suffering is Necessary"

My teacher's, Lawrence Graziose and Kit Laughlin have uttered this many times but it wasn't until recently that I truly embraced my own 'suffering' as a means for growth. I initially lived my life avoiding suffering, "Kissing off," full immersion in life.

This year, IMMENSE financial stress could not be glossed over, I had to face losing everything from home and hearth. Facing trouble/unhappiness head on, versus suppressing/depressing, meant it's negative affect/effect dissipated. Opportunities revealed themselves. Tension dissolved. The reality was the 'thinking' of possible suffering was worse than the experience of what was real.

So my point is maybe until you have a strong enough impetus to change, you don't. When you feel you don't have a choice it's because you don't like the choices you have. So embrace a choice and see what happens. Changing your attitude to gratitude changes your mental state, and therefore muscular tension.

Big Bob, "Don't you hate the cold winters in Canberra?"

Greg Laughlin, "I LOVE all the seasons!"

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"So my point is maybe until you have a strong enough impetus to change, you don't. When you feel you don't have a choice it's because you don't like the choices you have. "
This - I think overcoming this hurdle (changing out of choice rather than necessity) is a huge upgrade necessary for basically everyone to overcome if they want to progress their self cultivation. Dave calls Canberra the "purgatory of comfort" and this couldn't be more accurate, but applies to many more people and places than Canberra. It's when people have enough average "comfortable" choices that they can hide away the discomfort, and only decide to make progress once all the comforts have been removed and they have no choice but to face the discomforts. The comforts are actually limiting in this way, preventing people from doing the necessary work, because it is quite uncomfortable to get started, mostly in facing aspects of ourselves that we are not comfortable with but have tucked away.  Why would we face these when we can instead hide them and enjoy a nice evening out with friends or watch a movie?


On a related note, Patrick described quite eloquently the concept in Buddhism called "dukkha" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dukkha) often translated as suffering, stress, anxiety or un-satisfactoriness.  All of these translations fall quite short, and it's quite obvious that if you ask many people if they think their life is full of suffering, stress, anxiety or un-satisfactoriness, that most people would answer "of course not, I'm very happy". Patrick's description of the concept would yield very different answers, however.  He asked the group (let me paraphrase here, I don't remember the exact wording): "if you had unlimited magical power to change any aspect of your life, would you?" - answering yes to this question means you are bound by dukkha. Of course, I doubt there is a single person among us who can answer no to this question without lying to ourselves :) Freeing oneself from dukkha is the entire point of Buddhism, and obviously this is a giant task. (on a side note, Patrick was of the opinion that we should borrow this word rather than trying to translate it, I tend to agree!).


Relating this back to the original idea - we can only get to work on this if we are first dissatisfied enough with our current predicament to do something about it.  We must acknowledge that we are in fact *not* deeply relaxed enough before we can do any real work towards un doing it. Unfortunately, we often put up with the discomforts in our own body and pursue other things such as contortion like flexibility, strength, and other things that provide outer/shallow comfort because it is outwardly visible to others. 


One last thing I'll add is what Dave talks about, that often people don't know that they *can* be more deeply relaxed than they have ever been.  They shift from majorly tense to not-as-tense-but-still-very-tense, and equate this to relaxation as they have nothing to compare their baseline to.  An experience of relaxation is necessary to understand this.  Unfortunately this is kind of a catch 22, to get the experience, one needs to do the initial work, to do the initial work, one needs to want the experience, but how can they want it without knowing about it?  In this sense, Kit and Dave's current work with the Coffee Shop Conversations are of absolute importance in giving the stage to these ideas in the broader community. 


Dave's signature line is auspiciously related to this subject, so I should quote it here:
"In the meantime remember one thing only: A man must be sufficiently disappointed in ordinary ways and he must at the same time think or be able to accept the idea that there may be something - somewhere." P.D.Ouspensky.



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  • 3 weeks later...
On 7/5/2015 at 8:28 AM, Kit_L said:

perhaps for the first time in the history of the species, the capacity to relax when the s$%^ is hitting the fan will confer tangible advantages on to the practitioner. 

Kit, I'm not sure I understood this. I train to be able to shift from relaxation to tension and from tension to relaxation, quickly, effortlessly, carefully. Do you think we need to avoid tension even when we have to fight or fly?

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Hi Corrado,

I believe what Kit means is that more often than not, our stressful situations no longer require a flight or fight response. 99% of the stress we face in the modern era is of the mental type (bosses yelling at people, bills overdue, people cutting you off in traffic, etc etc).  In these cases, it is much more valuable to learn how to provoke the relaxation response, as the flight or fight response in the nervous system gears you up for vigorous movement (at the cost of higher mental function), and when you get a big dump of hormones and tension that doesn't get used for anything, this becomes toxic (habitual patterns of tension, both physically and mentally, hormonal imbalances, emotional issues, etc etc). 


I think we still need the fight or flight response, however we need to understand when to use it (building on fire, etc). Even in these cases (even more so in these cases perhaps?) we want to eliminate mental panic and be able to consciously draw on physical capacity if required.  Gone are they days here we get jumped by Og from the other camp, or a bear, and have to mindlessly fight him to the death (a useful skill in the past for sure!), even with physical confrontations today, our society has made it so that this is not the best option - there are too many easily branded lethal weapons around, and too many consequences to "seeing red" and turning into a ball of super powered physical rage. Perhaps the only true example I can think of here where that state would be useful is the urban legend of the mother lifting the car off her child after a car wreck, these are surely a rare if ever encountered scenario for most of us.  

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To further elaborate on what Craig said and in regards to the question:


The beginning stage of this particular practice is simply to experience being relaxed (or more relaxed is more accurate). When you have done this practice (my guess is that Kit will recommend a lying relaxation practice) for an extended period you should hopefully be able to draw on that experience in daily life, which of course is where the true gold is at, being able to modify and adapt your response to the situation as it arises. A very good way to do that is simply to listen to the lying relaxation mp3 that are available for free on this site.

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Hello Craig, thanks for your answer. I still do not understand and sorry, maybe I did not express well my question.

I try again.



Do you believe that to be relaxed during a necessary "fight or flight" reaction can bring me an advantage?



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Yes, great advantage. (with the caveat that at any necessary moment you can express power/strength in any part of the body where needed...my point above is that the necessary moments these days are few and far between and no longer require the instinctive physical reactions they once did)

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I feel silly saying this now after so much discussion, here it goes.

i'm, after going through the frustration of "why didnt i do this sooner!?",glad I started stretching as an adult with injuries, stiffness. having that as a starting point to have as a frame of reference to what has so far been created with using ST methods in stretching and lying meditation when I make the time for it, which is usually in bed before I go to sleep.

anyway, I started off stiff and every new gain has been a magical feeling. touching the floor with fingers in a forward bend. how crazy it felt to have my palms on the floor cold...next on the list is the neccesary flexibility to press HS. frequently when I stretch, I hear the echoes of things people have said on the forums and one echo I keep hearing is "your mind creates tension and it ripples through the body, i have no point of reference for X position, which is one of the reasons my body can't do it, be it strength, flexibility, etc. what i dont use, i dont lose."

so....is the reason i'm beginning to feel so good about my body because I have a frame of reference of where it once was? is this "checkpoint" or focal point to my experience influencing how much tension I have in my body? after hanging around you guys for a while, im beginning to feel comfortable looking at this question.

in a martial arts sense, i have frequently heard that "to know violence, one can effectively live and defend ones peace" so is this perhaps why people with "more" than one can be "bored" (to go with the vein of the recent conversations videos between Dave and Kit) with their attained level?

this is a dimension of the whole discussion that keeps popping up in my mind. I also bring this up because i have had an excellent upbringing opportunity to have been a professional surfer, yet I feel most at home in the water than over it, so i joined a swim team when I was younger and felt pretty fulfilled even tho i was never a gold medalist and my surfing is crappy, yet it doesnt affect me.

so, how much of "the perfect formula" is wanting to do something and being suited for it? could this be, and i say this from an observational pov posed as a question, one of the reasons why Olivia is an excellent example for mobility but she somehow doesnt feel a level of "soft body" or suppleness? because her level of flexibility is so high(similar to how a water containment unit can be quite large) but her perceived experience of it not as fulfilling(even tho the vase can be quite large like 20,000L it doesnt seem that all full even with 5,000 L of water)?

I say this because i was inactive from martial arts for a while and only practiced what little material I kept up with at home or at the gym I work at. ever since I started practicing a martial art again(BJJ), I feel this overwhelming joy to be moving again, either doing drills by myself or rolling with a partner.

could it simply be that her level of flexibility is so high in relation to her capacity to relax that it frustrates her? im asking this because i am one who kind of lost the love, fire of why i began doing GST and ST in the first place until I started doing martial arts again....it also helps that im now doing a MA with less dysfunction than before, which shows me that my body is healing which enriches the experience of why to invest in training.


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also, the whole reason i am posing this question is because, like Kit, i've had to work through my anger. it stems from my upbringing, how unfair i feel it was/is, it set the conditions to develop a superiority complex.

fast forward going through the distilation process of sports, martial arts, helpful teachers and nurturing friends, i am noticing that i am less offended or peeved by things. sure, i know i can well up with emotion if i allow it to snowball, but i feel much more supple now than I did before....i've asked people and people also have commented to me that in this stage in my life i'm much more chill, even with the overwhelming experiences i've gone through these past 3-4 yrs.

idk. just something I wanted to run by you guys since I find this aspect of developing myself or others so fascinating and if it can be brought down to simple concepts could aid me in healing myself and having options for people to heal, as well. thats what MA and training has been for me, at least. an enviornment with conditions that have simply allowed whats inside the seed to germinate and grow.

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looking at training through the lens of a matrix is something that has absolutely changed the way i experience life and id be thrilled to get to know how you guys look at it. it all started with kung fu and eventually, it became everything.

btw! the other day i filmed a transition from sitting to xie bu via the single leg squat that i wanted to share with you, if you didn't already do. i thought it was pretty cool. :) #nerd

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  • 4 weeks later...

...the idea that a person can be pretty flexible but at the same time very tense: good or bad or indifferent?


Depends on the goals one has and the position seen to be needed to get there. The efforts needed relative to the stress/' to coerce one's mind/body/self to where one wants to be. I say coerce because the relation is a tough dance.
Not really related to anything specific, here's a good question to go through "What assumptions are being made, and are they valid". A handy tool to get around the cognitive bias' and patterns that our brains like.

The mind must be involved in the experience for change to have happened. 


In the sense of taking ownership of the mind, consider it a structure. Balanced structured fall any which way relative to the push.
Imbalances that were in place already (conscious of them or not) or the use of a controlled demolition always has a pattern to the fall. I'll put this into context in a moment.

For someone like myself for whom anger has always been a problem(tension is always involved) and internal and external muscular tension was always high, these experiences were a revelation.


Flipping that one around, the mind relates that tension to being angry,or even to cooking an omelette (if you cook omelettes always when you happen to be/have-been angry). So things get re-enforced whenever the pathway of cooking an omelet is taken.


Myself I'm more of flight or flight or perhaps fight. So my body's tension is associated with pulling away. A lot of my overcoming has been from using new pathways with the awareness I have now. New pathways such as humour/entertainment/fun, and projection/copying a behaviour/mindset of another (found though reading and observation). Those are the ones that work best to me. Seems Kit has found belly breathe decent enough.Since our body likes to be efficient/lazy I think it's a good call to use methods that rings true on multiple levels (one stone to hit two-three-five birds).


So using myself as an example... Goals: to have fun, find better platform to do so (AKA find improvements), find ways to project amusement. Keep in mind fun for me is different from the fun for you.


So Liv mentioned being soft *while moving*, i.e. in day to day life. In my experience, there is only one way to achieve this, and that is through proper coordination and harmony of all of the body and mind. This concept is called "six harmonies" in the tradition that I am from.


It sounds like a lot if you look at it without application. Take Kit's que for example. The belly breathe. He reminds the body subconsciously of conscious softening within the space of a few heart beats.
After all, Kit's massive on belly breathes during his physical conscious practice of, as he puts it, "stretch therapy".

... Even though some muscles may continue to work hard, the position turns from something that is a struggle to something that is relaxing.


Even though the body takes some time before something does turn into function, I wonder if that arousal helps the learning process. I can point towards an extreme example, PTSD or a more moderate one, a kid being bite by dogs.
Cherie mentioned seasons and change. There is enough evidence pointing towards the error in thinking that the human experience should be homogeneous. That's on every level of our existence. I guess the lazier way to say that is, there are many things that factor into one's experience
Back on Kit's mind's effort must be made, here's some maths to illustrate just that.
A(y)+ B(B*Y)^2 > A(y)+ B(B*Y)^2 - B(B*Y)^2
A subconscious effort
B conscious effort
Y cognitive bias'
^2 is to put in the fact that basically we can write something down and move on. That wisdom can be applied on itself.
subconscious effort(cognitive bias') + conscious effort (conscious effort * cognitive bias)^2> subconscious effort(cognitive bias') + conscious effort (conscious effort)^2 - conscious effort (conscious effort)^2.
I only put in a few factors so it's easy to understand the concept but if you wanted to you could break that down further or change what it reflects to say... what it would be to evolve mentally or how to create "deeper" experiences (A(y)+ B(B*Y)^2 - B(B*Y)^2 = W) Consider the image below where everything is = W but logic is applied to try to disprove (thus prove) it. 


... bringing my point to it about balance and mental structures to it would bring in new elements into the formula.
Recognizing the mental structures one has (foundations), how different things affects them (tools, including controlled demo's) and meditation (constructing/improve new foundation) has help me evolved.
2 things help me check myself (before I wreck myself); lowing the likelihood of overreaction; having quick go to "brush off" tools.
That which manages sensitivity/overreactions... Maintaining a decent level of sleep and a having a nap is vital for me (I've experimented with laying meditation, for me a 30 minute nap works better and has me sleep an hour less a night. If I don't have nap time as little as 2 minutes meditation makes a difference). I can work with lack of sleep but I have to be aggressive with the brush off tools.
The other sensitivity tool is blood inflammation. This one is quite the dance. Diet, work-outs, and injuries affect this. Level of gut inflation (tid-bit: look into Cox-2 Inhibitors anti-inflam drugs and cucumin and on that of subject, I love how the Indians have been in on the turmeric AKA cucumin train for generations). Being on top of that as well as drawing out daily sweats or hot epson salt baths
Brush off tools: Re-enforce fun that gives me an extra breathe. A small laugh combine with a double check to ensure it's just not a nervous reaction (because that has happened). or I'll make a little joke (verbal or non verbal, to myself or the audience).
... All attempts to retrain the association of anger and cooking the omelette. The anti-fragility bastardised to coerce personality...

So yeah, the TLDR is: There is more to Olivia's question than just to be "flexible" and even mountains are malleable.

(I feel like I should of hired a proof reader for this post)

Edited: Related to what I'm saying... www.youtube.com/watch?v=jyFaBK3mqNw&t=18m35s

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Hello everyone. Been reading throw the thread. Alot to digest, I will have to go back read it over again a few times to get my head around everything. 


In regards to the state of ones internal nature and our ability to effect change on it; I feel Wim Hof's method to be very complimentary towards Stretch and many other approaches/disciplines. He is able to consciously effect change on his autonomic nervous system. Has climbed Mt Everast only wearing shorts. Im posting the Vice piece that was done on him. Its Long but well worth the watch if you are not familiar with his methods. Ive purchased his system and Im incorporating it along side the rest of what i do.


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  • 2 weeks later...

Can you reduce what you are trying to say to a number of simple, concise statements? Even though I worked in post-grad logic for years, I have to comment that, for me, even after reading your post twice, I do not know what your point is.

A side note: trying to put words into maths symbols does not add anything to an argument; it can only formalise it—precisely because of the precision. Words are looser, and potentially richer tools, but are like the Zen finger pointing to the Moon; they are not the Moon. Doubly so is this the case for maths symbols trying to evoke experience.

It is likely I have missed your point, so can you have another go at it, please? And simplifying one's arguments means more people can share in the insight; our purpose here. Note: make more simple, not more simplistic! Fred (looking over my shoulder as I type!) has just mentioned an Einstein quote that's relevant here: http://quoteinvestigator.com/2011/05/13/einstein-simple/

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Cheers for the honest response. People don't talk about this stuff so I'm not surprised. Reading it back it makes sense to me, so either I'm a nutter or there is a miscommunication

With the maths thing, I was just having some fun hoping to illustrated the interplay of effort without writing a wall of text. The link was to show how one statement needs compound of multiple statements. Like how a valid scientific sentence is derived from a paper/study (title, abstract, etc).

What I was trying to talk about one's body's response to things, creating alignment in responses to meet the direction needed to get to where you want/need to be. Mentioning examples from Kit and myself.

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  • 1 month later...

If mind and body are one, does muscle tension come from the mind, or does mind tension come from the muscles. or is it circular?


ST works on the mind 'from below' versus trying to work the body through the mind ('top down')  


Neither direction is foolproof but some have felt (like A Lowen) that for our present Western culture, bottom up is more effective.


In my flexibility work I have noticed increased equanimity. However I am noticing an increasing gap between passive range of motion and active ROM. Perhaps active ROM involves more integration with the brain and mind? (needing more involvement of reciprocal inhibition?) And therefore active flexibility is more associated with emotional or interpersonal qualities. Circus people and ballerinas have such performance demands that perhaps the ego armors somehow against the flexibility? Now I have noticed that Pilates enthusiasts almost to a person seem well adjusted, and that is all about active stretch

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