Relaxing and Loosening Up

"True relaxation is always a dropping into ourselves, a movement toward our core and very center of self. In addition to distorting what we can see, hear, and feel, the inability to relax and release tension will inevitably fuel the involuntary internal monologue of the mind. As we become more enmeshed in the drama that our mind is scripting about ourselves, our ability to relate in a wholesome and relaxed manner with the current condition and circumstances of our lives becomes further distorted. ... The relaxation of tension in our bodies melts the armoring that keeps our bodies hard and inflexible. This hardening of the tissue creates a layer of numbness that keeps our awareness of the rich web of shimmering sensations concealed and contained. Relaxation allows the armoring to begin to soften and melt away. The inevitable result is a much greater awareness of sensational presence and a diminution of the ongoing involuntary monologue of the mind. Learning how to relax by surrendering the weight of the body to the pull of gravity and remaining standing at the same time significantly catalyzes the practice of mindfulness."

 - Will Johnson, Aligned, Relaxed and Resilient, 2000, p. 55

"To be relaxed means to release tension, but not to let go of substance. There is a quality in-between stiff and loose which is stable, yet flexible, that has fullness without being rigid, that is calm in motion yet conveys a vigorous presence. For lack of an equivalent English word, I refer to this concept as flowing within firmness, firmness within flowing. Flowing and firmness do not gain support from a rigid skeletal posture or strength from muscular tension. Rather, their integrity comes from expansion. Expansion is the ability to spread out in all directions. This is the key to relaxing without collapsing." - Ting Kuo-Piao, Understanding Flowing and Firmness, 2000

"Relaxation of the whole body means the conscious relaxation of all the joints, and this organically links up all parts of the body in a better way. This does not mean softness. It requires a lot of practice in order to understand this point thoroughly. Relaxation also means the "stretching" of the limbs, which gives you a feeling of heaviness. (This feeling of heaviness or stiffness is a concrete reflection of strength.) This feeling is neither a feeling of softness nor stiffness, but somewhere in between. It should not be confined to a specific part, but involves the whole body. It is like molten iron under high temperature. So relaxation "dissolves" stiff strength in very much the same way. Stiff strength, also called "clumsy strength," undergoes a qualitative change after thousands of times of "dissolution" exercises. Just like iron which can be turned into steel, so "clumsy strength" can be turned into force, and relaxation is a means of gradually converting it into force. Our ancestors put it well: "Conscious relaxation will unconsciously produce force." There is truth in this statement." - Yang Zhenduo, "Yang Style Taijiquan", p 16

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