Monday, December 22, 2014

Relaxing, revisited

So in my post here I talked about looking at how relaxed you actually are.

After my first chiropractic session (nothing major, but interesting), I started thinking about how difficult it is to truly relax, to rid tension in the body.  A couple of times I wound up tensing a split-second before an adjustment, even though I wanted to stay relaxed and nothing ever hurt.

It made me think that even if you sit down - or lie down - and feel relaxed, there's no telling how much tension your body is holding onto.  I wonder if the only way to make yourself be relaxed is to be exhausted and force the body to release that tension.

If you've ever gone through Roy Drills, you know what I mean.  Roy Drills (named after Roy Hirabayashi, one of SJT's Founding Members) are meant to tire you out.  Straight beat, doro tsuku, don tsuku, other patterns over and over and over from slow to fast to slow to faster.  The long sessions can go around 40 minutes and if you're on naname or tachi-uchi (horizontal stand), you're going to hurt.  After a while, if you're not pacing yourself (and you shouldn't be), you're going to get tense.  Tight.  Sore.  Stiff.  And the only way to survive is to relax!  You'll still hurt, but you have to find a way to relax because you simply can't stay tense.

Relaxation is a skill that most of us don't practice.  It's not easy to relax when you're trying to play, but can you really relax when you're at rest?  The body is a great compensator.  It works itself into knots and mis-alignments to deal with pain and tension that you may not even be aware of.  So when you think you're relaxed, you may simply be in a "holding pattern" where the body is adjusting so you don't feel all the things that are tense.

Even if you can get a massage or an adjustment or have yourself looked at in that way, take some time to practice relaxing.  Maybe look into something like meditation or simply take a physical inventory of your body while still and taking some quiet time.  The important thing is to take care of yourself so that you - just as much of an instrument as your bachi - can continue to perform to the best of your ability!

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