Brushing Away Tension


My arm was bent at the elbow, my fist clenched tightly. Moving my attention to the shoulder, I noticed the bicep was also contracted. Why in the world was my left arm so tense when I was brushing my teeth using my right? The day was just beginning.

In that moment it was difficult to catch the thoughts or feelings that were there before I was thinking about the tension. Tension and restriction of movement is easy to notice when I expect my body to respond in a certain way, and it declines. But I am building the capacity for curiosity with Minute Mentastics and simple daily routines. I know the important question is not ‘why’ or even ‘what was I thinking?’

The Minute Mentastics question to ask at the moment of awareness is, “Well… how could it be easier, freer, lighter?”

This question has become so habitual for me over the past thirty years whenever I notice body tension, that almost immediately my left bicep relaxed. The arm straightened, my hand dangled free.  I do not imagine myself as supremely coordinated when asked to pat my head while rubbing my stomach, so I pause mid-brushing.

Dangling free I can feel the weight of my left hand. I barely flex my wrist and let it go, imagining the feeling of warm sand gently scooped up on the sunny beach and falling back out through spaces between my fingers. It’s a pleasant sensation. I do it again.

Curiosity increasing, I wonder if I can continue this exploration of movement with my left hand while also brushing my teeth with my right. Electrical impulses flow across nerves in response to my thinking. Soon both arms and hands move in harmony doing different tasks. Accomplishment feels good. I smiled.

In less than a minute of Mentastics movement, my day had changed.

Minute Mentastics:
– Use the daily routine of brushing teeth to become aware of the arm and hand not doing the work.
– Explore the question ‘how could it be easier?’