Physical Relaxation – Let Weight Fall

Relaxation is normally defined as “the state of being free from tension and anxiety.” From a physical viewpoint, a more useful definition of relaxation is “letting weight fall”. In contrast, physical tension is “holding weight up”.

If you’re a people-watcher, you can see tension. For example, some people hold their arms up with the neck. In turn, necks become crimped in back. Shoulder blades move up. The head is pushed forward. Most likely, the neck hurts, and frequent headaches arise.

The human head weighs about the same as a bowling ball. Carrying it in front of the centerline is tiring, and correlates to later-life nursing care (further front indicates earlier admission). This person would feel relieved by letting the shoulders and arms drop and hang freely. Don’t worry. The arms and shoulder blades won’t fall off.

Others try unconsciously to pull themselves upward out of their feet. This clearly doesn’t work because there is nothing above to hold onto. Pulling out of the feet has no practical value; it simply creates tension throughout the body. Calves and upper legs become stiff. In truth, we stand up because our feet distribute weight to the ground. Relaxation is supported by letting the feet do their job.

A starting place to increase relaxation is acknowledging the principle of letting weight fall. That’s a mindset change. Conscious understanding eventually leads to habitual use. Investigate yourself with a body-length mirror. Do you see examples of pulling upward? If so, decide to stop. There’s a lot to gain, and the choice is yours.

Regardless of where you observe “holding up” tension, begin the unraveling process with the feet. Feet are the foundation for everything above. The healing process is circular and iterative. It’s like the chicken and egg question – which comes first? Balancing the body over the feet is easier when the body is aligned with gravity. And, aligning the body with gravity is easier when the body is balanced over the feet. Go back and forth based on what the mirror says. Both aspects will improve together.

Alignment alone is a recommended goal for everyone. Ideal relaxation arises from good alignment coupled with “letting weight fall”.

A variety of well-established bodywork programs are useful. Yoga, Tai Chi, self-healing, jogging, Pilates, Rolfing, dance, movement exercise, weight lifting, Qi Gong are examples.

It all starts with the correct mindset. If your sense of relaxation is mostly mental, keep going. There is only one you. Mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual relaxation travel together.


Jack Menear