Your eyes have a surprising amount to do with the level of tension in your body. Follow these simple body hacks to get a little relaxation at your desk or with whatever you are doing.
1. Focus Less--How hard are you focusing your eyes to read this right now? You might be surprised to find that the answer is quite intensely. If you think of relaxing your eyes a little bit, tension will drain out of your neck. This is because of strong neurological connections between your eyes and your neck--the postural muscles of the neck tighten to orient to wherever the eyes are looking. If you are over-focusing (as is very common when looking at computers or smart phones) you might be putting stiffness in your neck that will make sitting for several hours at the computer that much harder (this is why bright colors can also be aggravating)! An additional affect of this is that it slowly leads our head forward off our spine, causing us to collapse. If you are attentive to keeping your head on your spine, you might have more success in avoiding your workday slump!
2. Focus More--Are you daydreaming while you are reading this? What happens with your eyes when you are in your internal world? For most of us, we find that they have become unfocused or glazed over. With this, there is a good chance that if you 'zoom out' and pay attention to your whole spine, it has collapsed a bit. This is because the lack of focus takes the tension necessary for good poise out of our neck. Over time, this slump makes us feel fatigued or gives us tightness and pain because our spine doesn't have the shape to support us. It's about balance--not too much focus, and not too little.
3. Crazy Eyes--When we go into problem solving mode, our pupils dilate, our eyes engage, and our neck tenses. If you do this for too long it literally locks our body up--this is part of why we characterize it as 'thinking hard'. If you are prone to anxious thought, your brain switches from thought to thought quickly--this registers as small, highly engaged back and forth moments with our eyes. This quick effortful switch speeds up our breathing pattern and deepens feeling of panic that might already exist. A good antidote to this is a classic meditative technique--light a candle, and have a soft focus on it with your eyes. The gentle focus it evokes helps to keep your brain from flitting from thought to thought without over-concentrating. Try it next time you have an anxious moment (you can also use other focuses such as a picture of nature or art and lightly concentrate on it instead).
4. Eyes Lead, Body Follows--Because of the way the postural muscles orient from the eyes if you turn your eyes slightly before your head your body will be primed for the movement. Try a simple experiment--look to the right with your eyes, but don't move your head. You will feel a pull from the postural muscles leading you to that side just from moving your eyes, and if you give into it, turning your head will feel like a release rather than an effort! The head will then lead the body into a gentle twist that goes all the way through your ribs (fun fact: your lumbar spine doesn't twist: sorry Yoga teachers). Without this turn of the eyes, we have a tendency to push our head off our spine as we turn, distorting the shape of our spine and forcing us to either collapse or over-engage the back to compensate. The same principle works for looking up or down. This is especially useful for Yoga movements, as well as turning as you walk or ride a bike--you might even find if you look slightly to once side while biking, the bike will slowly move in that direction without you turning your head or steering!
5. Insomnia Hack--Do you have trouble falling asleep? We know that when the eyes are hyper-engaged, tension comes into our body, and when we are thinking too hard a similar thing can happen. When we are falling asleep, we sometimes fail to notice that even with our eyelids close, our eyes can still be over-focusing. Next time you are tossing and turning, see if you can use a gentle un-focusing of the eyes to relax your thoughts/energy level; or use a technique similar to the one listed for 'crazy eyes' to relax yourself before you turn in for the night.
More info at Freedominmotionat.com
Thoughts on what is going on in the work and the world right now. Many posts to come.