It’s simple to reduce muscle tension
Just pick a muscle group or limb, flex all of the muscles in that group as hard as possible for a brief period of time, then relax. While on the surface this technique may seem simplistic, even counterproductive, it works well when practiced properly.
There are two principles which make the technique effective. First, high tension caused by clenched muscle is discharged when the flex is relaxed. By forcing muscles to clench as hard as possible, the meditator is artificially introducing more tension to the muscles; when the clench is relaxed, the difference between clenching and relaxation is felt with relief. Secondly, setting a mental intention to clench muscles and then relax them helps to focus the body and the mind on reducing resting-state muscle tension. Whereas conscious control causes the muscles to clench and relax, the intention of the task provides support for further relaxation after flexing is concluded.
To put the technique into practice, first settle into your chosen meditation area, and then close your eyes. Take a few breaths of normal depth, and quickly identify points of tension in your muscles. Set a mental intention to reduce the tension. If the points of tension are spread out across multiple muscle groups, you’ll have to repeat your clenching process multiple times. Don’t try to clench more than one muscle group at a time.
Once the tense muscles have been identified, clench all muscles surrounding the tense muscle, as well as all others in that group. For example, if your forearm is tense, you’ll be clenching all the muscles in your hand, arm, and shoulder. Clench as much as possible, building tension. Mentally scan the muscle group’s individual muscles, ensuring there are no remaining points of relaxed muscle. If you find an unrelaxed muscle in the group, clench it to the best of your ability. While clenching the muscle group, keep all the other muscles in your body as relaxed as possible.
Clench for a full five seconds, then relax all the muscles in the group simultaneously as much as you are able. Repeat your mental scan on the muscle group, this time identifying points of remaining tension or clenching. Be sure to unclench any remaining muscles you find. Imagine the tension evaporating from your muscles into the air around you, or perhaps draining into the floor, away from your body. Savor the release, and move on to the next muscle group.
As always with meditation, conclude your session with mental appreciation of your efforts. The muscle flexing method of tension reduction should be practiced three times a day in a preventative fashion, as it’s not always possible to reduce muscle tension that has had a chance to build. Pay attention when your body tells you that it is stressed, and remember to lead a healthy lifestyle in order to minimize chances for tension to build.