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Newsletter no. 51 – Wednesday 17 January, 2024

This is the web-based version of Stretch Therapy Newsletter no. 51

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Thank you, everyone.

Just over a year ago, we wrote, "It's been a tough few years for everyone, and we think the old 'normal' will likely not return.” Another year later, it does not look all that different.

Yet we are alive, something we are grateful for, every day. All of us will need to be even more resilient in this changed era, and learning how to relax, and how to remove tension from your body and your mind, will only be more important. Increased resilience will simply make us more useful to the people around us. We can be more like the eye in the storm.
 
We thank you sincerely and deeply for your support of Stretch Therapy,

With love,
Kit and Olivia

relax more

Many students and a number of teachers have written to us in the last year asking, ‘what is the best way to deal with stress?’ We don’t need to look past today’s headlines to know the reason why: you can't look at a news feed without seeing evidence of truly worrying events. Each day seems worse. We are all feeling pressured on many fronts—what can we do?

Stress is anything in the internal or external environments that causes a reaction in the body—felt in the tummy, and experienced as tension somewhere in the body. This is why the one event may leave one person unmoved, and another be frightened. In other words, ’stress' is constructed internally. Anxiety is the mind’s reaction to stress, and tension is the body’s—and they are are inextricably intertwined. If you experience stress, your resting muscle tonus increases (tonus is Latin for tension). And this happens across the whole body. Whatever the reason, if your muscle tension increases you will experience this as increased anxiousness. And if you are already holding tension in various places around the body (and who isn’t?), then those places increase in tension even more—increased tension affects all your existing patterns equally. This phenomenon is one reason why so many people complain of neck tension in the modern era. And as your muscle tonus increases, so too does your mind’s experience of anxiety increase: these processes feed into each other, a positive reinforcement loop, in other words.

There are two ways we know that will work to break this loop, if you’re prepared to put the effort in. One is stretching, in the ordinary sense of the word, because stretching simply reduces muscle tension. The mind experiences this change, and the perception is, ‘I feel better’, or ‘I feel more relaxed now’, and we all know this is true. But if you want to make this process much more effective, then take on the ‘relaxation 90-day challenge’.

Nothing could be simpler: download one of the many free relaxation audio scripts from our site onto your phone, and set aside 15 minutes or so every day for practice. Just listen, and follow the suggestions (sometimes we will be visualising parts of the body; sometimes we’ll be breathing in particular ways; sometimes we will be feeling different parts of the body). All require no effort, and all will be showing the body and the mind how to let go of tension that we usually cannot let go of voluntarily. And keep doing this for 90 days—many traditions have sayings like, ‘if you want to change a habit, do something different for a month. If you are serious about change, though, do it for three months’. This is true—if you do relaxation practices for three months, you’ll be a different person.

To round out this brief note, all I can say is that there is no greater gift than you can give yourself than learning how to really relax—not as an idea, or a goal, but an actual lived experience. Never in the history of our species has this been more important than now.
 
Warm regards, Kit

Online consults now available

Kit is now available for Zoom or Facetime consults, in any area of his expertise that you think might be useful to you. Write to him at kit@stretchtherapy.net with what you’d like to talk about. The consult will cost AUD $250, and the consult is open-ended. He will do one a day only, and in the morning (but not before coffee!).

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