The Major Up & Down Forces: Part 4
Until now, in regards to the Major Up & Down Forces, I blogged about emphasizing and practicing the 2 Up Forces through the spine - the lumbar and thoracic spine Up - and the Up Force through the top of the head, or head suspended. I also gave you exercises and mind body challenges for each blog. Next I blogged about the Down Force with your Shoulders.
In the next two blogs I will talk about the remaining 2 Down Forces of the Major Up & Down Forces and give you some more challenges to try and practice.
By the end of the Major Up & Down Forces series you will have learned the 3 Major Up forces and the 3 Major Down forces that are important for both health and martial arts and a couple of different ways to practice them.
In this blog I will focus on the second major Down force which is relaxing and dropping the abdominal muscles as well as deep relaxation and dissolving of tension in the internal organs.
We hold a lot of tension in the abdominal muscles and in the internal organs. Eastern philosophies believe that we store traumas energetically in our abdominal and back muscles, internal organs and other places in our physical and energetic bodies. As you relax and dissolve impurities in those areas you might experience strong memories or flashbacks. Ignore them and keep dissolving.
Dissolving impurities is metaphorically like washing mud off of your body and the memories are like pieces of plastic stuck in the mud which also get washed away. You do not need to go through the mud and understand what each piece of plastic represents, or what each memory means, just keep washing the mud off, and the impurities will wash away, too. In other words, do not get caught on the small details, keep dissolving.
There are many layers of muscles in the abdominal area to protect our internal organs so dissolving and relaxing the abdominal muscles and the internal organs takes some practice but can be highly beneficial for both health and martial arts on the physical and mental level.
It is interesting that in the West when we want to show strength and how healthy we are we flex our arm and point to our biceps while in the East, when symbolizing health and strength the abdominal muscles are tapped and pointed out.
I find it a funny show of strength since no one has ever died from failure of the biceps while many die from failure of one of the internal organs. It makes sense to me for strength and health to be measured by the health of our internal organs and not the size of our biceps!
Strengthening the abdominal area and creating a strong flow of energy through the organs is done through 2 directions, yin and yang. Deep levels of relaxation, dissolving, and massaging while letting go and softening is the yin side of the practice. Strengthening the abdominal area through coordination of the back and abdominal muscles with different methods of breathing while also visualizing the lower energy center is the yang side of the practice. Sit ups, leg ups and other resistance exercises are also an important part of the yang side of strengthening the abdominal and back muscles.
In this blog we will practice the yin side of the second Major Down Forces.
Hint: If you practice every day maybe you will get a Bonus blog in the near future about the yang side of the practice!
The Yin Practice
Preparation: Massage your Abdominal Muscles & your Internal Organs
Lie on your back or in a reclining chair. Elevate your head slightly on a pillow or a folded blanket. Rub your palms together quickly to generate heat and then place them on your abdomen, either one on top of the other or next to each other. Now start circling your palms clockwise. Start gently, massaging your skin then move deeper and massage the fascia under your skin. Keep massaging deeper and deeper into the first layer of your abdominal muscles and then the second layer of muscles. Over time you will feel the layers relaxing and softening. That is when you will be able to relax even deeper. You can massage in a large circle or in a few small circles. If you can find a partner who will do it for you, you will reach even higher levels of relaxation - good luck with that one!
Spend about 5 to 10 minutes every day on your abdomen and internal organ massage.
Practice: Relaxing the abdominal muscles and your internal organs
Ice to Water & Water to Gas Meditation
Sit on the floor on a yoga block with your legs criss-crossed, in seza or sit on the edge of a chair
Lengthen your spine, relax your shoulders and suspend your head
Breathe deeply 3 to 5 times. Relax your entire body.
Next, inhale and bring your mind to your abdominal muscles: the area between your solar plexus and your pubic bone.
Sense the abdomen from your skin all the way to your internal organs and then on an exhalation, relax the abdominal muscles.
Start from the skin and work your way deeper and deeper until you reach your internal organs.
Continue for 3 to 5 minutes.
Next, focus on relaxing your internal organs. Use the metaphor
Ice to Water, Water to Gas
Solid to Liquid, Liquid to Gas
Practice every day.
If you want to challenge yourself even more, try this meditation sitting or standing for either 20, 30 or 40 minutes for two of your practices each week!
Over time, you will experience your abdominal muscles and your internal organs relaxing more and more until some days they will feel transparent.
Were you able to let go of some unnecessary tension in your body?
Did you experience any memories while dissolving?
We will continue to work on and practice the Up & Down forces next time. You have 1 Down Force left to learn and practice, which is Face Relaxed.
Until then, Happy Stretching, Deep Breathing, Empty your Mind, Strengthen your Energetic System & Evoke your spirit!