I teach all my students to use the Constructive Rest practice daily as one method of their self-care. Personally, I have found this practice immensely beneficial over the past 20 years. And my students who incorporate this into their daily lives find it really helpful too.
The time when I most need to stop and do my Constructive Rest practice is when I am thinking “I don’t have the time to do this now, I have too many things to get done!”
When I am having these thoughts I may not look exactly like it from the outside but inside I feel like the cartoon below:
When I am in this state I personally feel excess tension in my neck and shoulders, the front of my chest, and my armpits (yes, my armpits!). In addition to the fact it feels crappy, it isn’t good for my posture!
Do you ever feel like the cartoon above? If so, you are in good company.
If I can choose to stop and give myself a 10-minute break lying on my back on the floor, knees bent and head supported by a short stack of paperback books I can arrest some of the tension I have built up and this pulling forward in my body.
We tend to be overly forward-oriented just because of the fact that most of what we do all day is in front of us. Then there is the tendency to be future-focused on all the things that have to get done instead of being present with what you are doing as you are doing it. With these two things in mind, you can easily understand how you can lose a sense of the back of yourself as you get pulled forward.
For me being poised and balanced upright is a lot about the practice of being present with what I am doing as I am doing it. Not getting pulled forward with future thoughts of stuff to do.
When I lie down on the floor I am reminded that I can literally come back. Gravity is inviting my head, neck, and back in that direction (toward the floor) so it’s easy. I can accept gravity’s invitation for 10 minutes and stop over tensing and pulling forward. I feel the contact of the back of my head on the books and my back on the floor so using that sense of touch I educate myself about where they are in space.
This is what I call practicing my Back Consciousness.
Focusing on my contact with the floor immediately brings my mind to the present. It is your mind that is the time traveler. Your body stays in the present. So simply being aware of what your body is contacting will…boom! put you into the present moment, just like that.
When I get up I take some of my Back Consciousness with me for a while. When I notice my tasks or my mind is pulling my body forward I remind myself that my head, neck, and back can literally come back so I can find my balance again.
Cartoon used under permission of DIRECTION Journal