Tai Chi can address pain from “clenching.” But how? Here’s one thought for practice.

I sometimes see pain as a sign of the body or brain talking to you, trying to get your attention, telling you to listen. If you have a painful joint or muscle, it might hurt because it’s doing more than its share of the body’s workload. It’s doing the work of other joints or muscles. One or more of these other parts might be holding back, either reacting to tension or stress, or creating tension and stress.

I trace some of this back to the influence of emotion, often a low-level, under-the-radar sort of fear that we barely notice. Sometimes it’s knowledge-based from needing to know more about what’s holding us back. Sometimes it’s a lack of clarity on how to respond to some force that you don’t quite understand enough about in order to act upon.

I’ve heard of one reaction called “clenching,” which I suspect is a subconscious attempt to “control.” But the opposite effect results: i.e., no control. Or perhaps more accurately, it causes undue control of other parts of the body by hindering their movement and reducing their contribution to the movement of the whole. In other words, trying to hold back the inevitable: movement.

If and when you discover yourself doing this kind of thing, tell yourself to listen in a different way than you’re accustomed to:

“Change View. Shift. Release.”

Flow with the compelling force of the mind and body and spirit that is always present whatever we may, or may not, be doing consciously or unconsciously. Move and adapt with the ever-fluctuating force of life.


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