December 19, 2015

A Surprisingly Simple Anytime Stress-Buster.


I was streaming down the freeway, kids chattering in the backseat, music playing on the radio, and my mind going through my To-Do list for the dinner party we were throwing that night, when I heard my son yelling, “Mom! Mom! Mooooommmmm!”

I tuned-in to my three-year old saying, “What kind of tree did we just pass with the red berries?”

What??!! I had no idea? I didn’t even see a tree, much less one with red berries!

I took a deep breath and noticed my hands were clenched on the steering wheel and my chin was jutting way out in front of me.

“Be here,” I thought, as I slowly made the shift to draw my head back on top of my neck and said a silent thank you for the tap-on-the-shoulder reminder to come back to the present.

This shift  is a simple thing, but a big thing that affects us physically, mentally, and emotionally!

Right now, notice—where is your head? If you are looking at a screen (like most people these days), chances are your head is out in front of you.

From a physical stand point, when your head (which weighs an average of 10-11 pounds!) is not in the proper place, the muscles in your shoulders and neck are working extra hard to hold up that heaviness and most likely you have (unnecessary) neck and shoulder tension! I repeat—you have unnecessary stress in your body.

Here is the easy fix:

Sit (or stand) tall and make your chin parallel to the ground. Now, retract your chin straight back until your head is sitting directly on top of your neck. As you draw your chin back into alignment, gently lift the back of your head straight up to the sky (to prevent any compression in the cervical spine).

This may feel a little strange if you are used to walking around with your head in front of you. Though, once the alignment is corrected a few times, there will be a feeling of lightness and tremendous freedom.

When your spine has a healthy alignment, your entire being functions better. Information can move through your nervous system without being blocked and your body can communicate what it needs. Bones support each other and your muscles and tendons do not need to work overtime just to hold you up.

The trick is:

Start noticing the way you are in each moment. It starts on the physical level. When you are out of alignment, make the shift to bring your head gently back onto your neck, over and over again, until healthy posture becomes your new state of being.

Okay, here is where this gets good.

This little change will not only help your physical body feel better, but your emotional and mental being will start to shift for the better as well!

On a mental level, when our head is “out in space,” we are distracted or living in the future. Every single time I observe my head in front of my body, I am thinking about something that hasn’t happened yet (and, quite frankly, may never happen), or I am making up some kind of story that may or may not be a true reflection of reality.

When I had this revelation, it changed my world!

Each time I noticed my posture out of alignment, I became more aware of my mental and emotional state. I began to experience that I am not my thoughts! I actually have the power to choose what to think about. To choose how to spend my mental time. And, I didn’t want to live a life where I was floating around in some mind-made reality and missing my actual life.

I wanted to be in this present now moment, so that I have a presence.

In any given moment, I didn’t want my kids to have a shell of a mom that half hears and sees them.

On an emotional level, when the head is in front of the heart, we are being led through life by our thoughts, rather than our heart. The yogis believe the heart center is the place where unconditional love and compassion reside. Yoga teacher, Saul David Raye once said, “It is the deepest level of being where we find the doorway to the connection of life.”

The second I bring my head into alignment, I am able to check-in with how I am feeling and consider my intellect and intuition in conjunction with what my heart desires.

I’ve noticed when my head is “out in space,” I am often in my ego and stuck listening to old tapes in my mind. The shift brings me back to the present moment where my ego has no power. With awareness of what truly is, I can let my ego step aside and then come from a place of love. A place of truth.

For me, this shift  creates a richer moment every. single. time.

That moment in the car with my kids, when I made the shift  back into the present, was not too dramatic. It was a typical moment where I became aware of my state of being and took a second to shift  my physical, mental, and emotional alignment. I turned the radio off and asked my son to tell me about the tree. Both kids started talking about the tree that “looked like Christmas” and soon we were laughing and singing carols together.

It was a fairly ordinary experience that shifted into a magical connection with my children and life in the present moment.

And, that’s the awesome thing about this.

Ordinary times, distracted times, stressful times—anytime and all times, become meaning-full.

They become connected, rich, life-affirming, and beautifully real.





Author: Michele Bickley

Editor: Renée Picard

Photo: Author’s Own

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