What could be better than a peaceful mind housed in a strong, supple body? We can achieve both of these through dropping into what is often referred to as the ‘gap’ while we stretch and breathe length into our muscles.
In our series of ideas of How to Live in Alignment : Physically and Soulfully we will look at the L in the acronym ALIGN for Lengthening. Bring on the expansion, extension and elongation, of our muscles and inner peace, please!
We all have thoughts of worry and fear that create a feeling of anxiousness, adding unnecessary burdens on our mind. When this happens our thoughts run wild streaming through memories of the past or figments of the future leaving the aperture for silence illusive.
So how do we create more inner space to bathe in the luxuriousness of a quieter mind? We practice slipping into the ‘gap’, the space between your thoughts, by creating and observing present moment awareness.
One of the best ways to cultivate presence in the now is by observing physical sensations in our body. We can use the breath as a guide to feel the expansion of our ribs as we breathe, groundedness through our feet, a light breeze on our face, and the beat of our hearts. By drawing attention to physical consciousness in the body we slow down our mind and direct focus to the present moment. This is where the gap happens. YES!
Eckhart Tolle the guru of ‘now-ness’ explains, “When you become conscious of these brief spaces as they happen naturally, they will lengthen, and as they do, you will experience with increasing frequency the joy of perceiving with little or no interference of thinking. The world around you then feels fresh, new, and alive.”
We can practice this lengthening of the space between our thoughts while we create space in our joints and length in our muscles with resistance stretching. Ready to give it a go? You’ll ideally need a medium weight resistance band, but no worries if not available you can use a towel or long scarf too.
- Start lying on your back with the band looped around the arch of your foot of the leg you are stretching. Bottom leg is bent with foot on the ground to help stabilize the pelvis. Upper body is relaxed, end of band in each hand, elbows bent to 90 degrees with back of arms and upper body in contact with the ground.
- Take an breath in as you bend the knee towards the chest and exhale as you straighten the leg into the band feeling gentle resistance. Be mindful to not lock the knee out.
- Close your eyes as you repeat this bend and stretch to help drop into the present moment by feeling the sensations of the stretch. Focus on sending the breath into areas of specific tightness.
Stretching with resistance lengthens while we strengthen our muscles. The resistance of the band helps to support the weight of the leg, freeing up space in the joint allowing it to relax and release. This support, added with a gentle contraction of the quad and hamstrings while stretching, promotes fascia (connective tissue around the muscles) release and muscle elongation. Stretching within this framework creates a faster track to flexibility.
It is truly a moving meditation of breath and stretch creating opportunity to quiet the mind and drop into that beautiful space between thoughts where all the magic happens, intentions can be released and anything is possible.
I hope these ideas to create spaciousness in your body and mind spark inspiration to explore more. We’ll look at the ‘I’ of the ALIGN acronym for Inner Core in our next adventure into the art of living in alignment.