The Major Up & Down Forces: Last Part of the Series!
Welcome back mind-body aficianados!
Until now, in regards to the Major Up & Down Forces series, I blogged about emphasizing and practicing the two Up Forces through the spine - the lumbar and the thoracic - and then the Up Force through the top of the head - head suspended. I also gave you some exercises for each part. How did you do with them?
This final blog of the Major Up & Down series completes our exploration of the Up & Down Forces for now but that does not mean that you do not need to keep practicing these important concepts in all of your mind-body exercises.
Remember to add the forces to all of your training and practice them whenever you can. I talked about practicing the Up & Down Forces while stopped at a red light or while waiting for your computer to load. Implementing the forces while sitting in meditation, stretching, practicing the Tai Chi form or for Chi Kung will take your practice to the next level. Keep working on it!
So what is the last remaining down force in the major Up & Down Forces series?
We hold a lot of tension in our face. The face is made up of layers and layers of muscles, like an onion, that connect to the shoulders.
Face dissolving meditation
Ice to water and water to gas….
Sit on the floor on a yoga block cross legged or in Seza or sit on the edge of a chair.
Lengthen your spine, relax your shoulders and suspend your head then breath deeply 3 to 5 times. Relax your entire body.
Then bring your mind to your face. Keep breathing deep, quiet, long peaceful inhalations and deep, quiet, long peaceful exhalations.
Start dissolving the skin on your face.
Sense the corners of your mouth, the corners of your eyes and the corners of your nose and dissolve them;
ice to water and water to gas.
Work on that for a few minutes then move to the temple area, let the temple area dissolve downwards.
Then move to the skin on your face - dissolve it; ice to water and water to gas.
Work on that for a few minutes then move to the first layer of fascia. Dissolve your fascia for a few minutes then the first layer of your face muscles. Move slowly, layer by layer until one day you will reach the skull. Maybe one day you will experience just being a skull - no face, no muscles, no expressions and no persona; enjoy it if you can.
The first time I experienced just being a skull in the face meditation was after a few years of training the face meditation. I remember reaching that experience and sensing no persona, not me any more, and I got a little scared and lost the experience.
I decided that the next time I reach this experience I will not get scared and maybe a year later I was able to reach this state again. This time I was able to stay in that place and it was such a freeing experience - no face, no persona, just being nothing.
Our Persona or Image
The face expresses our persona or our image. Each individual has a different persona but you will be surprised that many of us make similar faces in different or similar situations.
Over the course of our life we develop certain faces or expressions that make up our persona or character. For example, when our parents give us a hard time we come up with a face or an expression that says: Ok, I am sorry or Do not tell me what to do or I understand but I do not care or I am sorry and will do better next time and other ones.
Later on in life we adopt other faces. For example when we meet a potential partner or lover: Hi, I am nice and polite or I am confident and secure or easy going or very serious but funny. Maybe a combination of faces.
Another situation may be when we start a new job or when we are in charge of people.
Then we have the faces we put on in public, in the street or in crowded places like an elevator. For example, we might put on a smiling face to make everybody feel comfortable or maybe we look down at the floor so as not to deal with the people around us. Or maybe we put on a helpful face: What floor do you need? Or a confused face: Is this going up or down?
The faces or the facial expressions we make can make a difference and you know it. That is why, over time and from experience, we learn which face to make as a method for moving smoothly through life. We adapt according to our experience and what we think is the best face to make for a specific situation to reach to the highest success, depending on the goal.
Many individuals tense or wrinkle the forehead or raise their eyebrows to express or indicate surprise or wonder when talking or thinking as part of their persona. Are you one of them?
I have a good friend who, many years ago, tensed her forehead so much that, after a while I could not listen to what she was saying because the tension in her forehead was so strong that it grabbed all of my attention. I mentioned it to her and she was interested in changing it so I told her to put her hand on her forehead and learn to relax the forehead muscles when talking. It took a while but slowly she was able to let go.
Check out some of the ways our Forehead and Eyebrow body language communicates!
After 40 or 50 years we have about 6 to 8 faces that we use every day depending on the situation. Those faces make up our persona. Other people around us become familiar with those faces and they learn how we feel and what we think from the faces we make.
Remember that if you are a sad and down person, most of the time, it will eventually show on your face. You will have a sad face since the muscles in your face will shape into a sad persona, and the opposite is right as well. If you are a happy person, smiling and laughing all the time, in the long run, you will have a happy face. Either way, you can do some face exercises to help. Look in the mirror every day: Smile. Move the face muscles in different directions. Prevent the sad face; that is, if you are interested.
Holding and maintaining your persona is not easy
Some of the faces or expressions we make take a lot of energy but for most people they are manageable and worth preforming since they are our way, or our perceived way, of moving through life smoothly and successfully.
When sick or sad or depressed you may find out that some of your family members and best friends are hard to be with. You may experience difficulty in social events or find that being in public is hard when you do not feel good. One of the reasons is that making faces or regular expressions takes too much effort and energy from yourself, especially in those situations; that is normal.
On the other hand, again when your energy levels are low under certain situations, you may find family members, friends or even strangers who are easy to be around. People who you do not need to make faces with, and people who do not take your energy but actually you feel more energy with them; stick with them they are good for you!
You can find more of my writing about dissolving our persona or image, the face meditation while utilizing the setting sun as well as the 3rd eye meditation during sunrise in my Sunset Tai Chi book in chapter 2 on pages 82 to 83.
Energy Manifested in the Face in Different Ways
A facial expression is one or more motions or positions of the muscles beneath the skin of the face. According to one set of controversial theories, these movements convey the emotional state of an individual to observers. Facial expressions are a form of nonverbal communication.
Here is a list of 6 basic Emotions and Facial Expressions that you might find interesting and educational.
Tense Forehead, Twitching Eye, Clicking Jaw, Biting or Chewing the Inner Cheeks and Lips
Some individuals, on top of holding tension in the face muscles from the persona, facial expressions or from traumas, have extra tension in different specific areas or muscles of the face. This tension expresses itself through involuntary muscle or joint movements. Having the fight or flight system, our body responds to stress by releasing hormones that stimulate and activate the sympathetic nervous system which causes our muscles to twitch and contract. Psychological stress, fear or anxiety in life or self-conscious social situations is another big reason for this behavior. If this happens over long periods of time it could be a chronic condition.
For example, twitching muscles in one or both eyes is sometimes a manifestation of tension in the face or the shoulders. This tension could be because of many reasons but some could be from stress, either physical, emotional, or psychological or it could be a combination of them all. It can also happen from fatigue, sleep deprivation or looking at a screen for long periods of time. Some believe that drinking too much caffeine is another reason. I got an eye twitch for a while from wearing sunglass which weren’t UV protected so I stopped using them and within a week the twitch was gone. Some individuals have what is called TMJ or biting the inner cheeks. Some individuals from different psychological reasons bite their lip.
Many individuals who do any of the conditions I describe often do not even know that they are doing it and the people close to them do not dare to tell them for different reasons. You should be thankful if someone tells you; knowledge is the first step to enlightenment or in this case to at least try and change this behavior. It is true that sometimes some of these symptoms are a medical condition that more than just psychological treatments can solve but the face meditation and practicing the major Up and Down Forces is a great mind body tool or method to reverse or get rid of much of the tension and its manifestation.
Behavior and Energy that Sucks your Energy
Some specific behavior or some faces that other people make around you will suck your energy if you are not careful or sensitive. For example a person who gives you a face to belittle you - You are a loser - that will suck your energy. Or You are stupid or You do not know what you are doing or You are not important. Another face or behavior that can suck your energy is from individuals who you explain or tell them something and they need more explanation, more attention, even though you explained it clear and simple: I don’t understand. Can you explain it again? Or Can you repeat what you just said? I did not hear you.
A third behavior or face is Poor me like It is so hard for me or I do not know if I can do it. Even though you are good at something - I am not good - I am a loser. There are other behaviors that come with certain faces that will suck your energy. Watch out for them and learn to not let your energy get sucked out of you, if you do not choose to. On the other hand, some behavior or faces of other people around you will nourish your energy and will make you feel good and happy.
Were you able to let go of the tension in your face? Did you experience any memories while dissolving?
Were you able to dissolve and reach the sensation of just being a skull?
Meanwhile, if you want more, go to Udemy.com for follow-along videos which teach you how to practice Meditation or how Tai Chi can help you achieve your health and martial goals. Or get my books; first Sunrise Tai Chi and then Sunset Tai Chi.
Until then, Happy Stretching, Deep Breathing, Empty your Mind, Strengthen your Energetic System & Evoke your spirit!