Pressure Points

In times of stress, our breath tends to rise in the chest. The shoulders lift and tighten. The jaw clenches.

Over the past thirty years of kung fu (and other inner work), I’ve devoted a good deal of attention to this. When I watch inexpert students sparring, the signs are always there, and always the same. The students are nervous: they are putting their skills to the test, and they might receive a painful blow at any moment. Their egos are on the line, and they are being watched. I can see the tension in their shoulders, the stiffness and jerkiness of their movements, the quick and shallow breaths, the lack of connected power in their techniques.

When we are under pressure in daily life, we unconsciously react in the same way. Over time the effects are insidious. In particular, I believe that this inattention to our internal posture is responsible for a fair percentage of the idiopathic hypertension that afflicts so many people.

So try this: take stock of your inner state. See if the breath is sitting high in your chest; if so, relax your abdomen and try to let the breath drop down behind your navel. Loosen the muscles in your face (especially the jaw), in your neck, and in your shoulders. Stay with this sensation of the body as long as you can. Do it as often as you can.

I’ve had mild hypertension myself for a while (I’ll be 50 in a month), and I have found that I am able to lower my systolic reading by at least ten points within a few minutes by doing this.

Our posture is an indication of how we are inside, but it goes both ways. By consciously adjusting our outer manifestations, we can make an inward change as well.

Related content from Sphere

One Trackback

  1. […] waka waka waka I go many places… « Pressure Points […]