One of our greatest challenges at total relaxation (song, pronounced soong) comes from a simple visit to the dentist. I always laugh when they take my blood pressure, because what is normal in a dentist is office - 160 over 100?
But dental pain is no laughing matter. It is easy to relax in the chair until the first time they scrape your gums or drill into a nerve. Then, watch out! I find it easier to relax in rush hour traffic than in this chair. That said, it is possible to relax, and the practice will make it much easier to relax in other adverse situations.
In many ways it is easier to relax in the chair (at least until the dentist enters the
room) than when standing. You don't have to hold
yourself in a perfect stance; you can relax any part of your body as easily as any other,
even more easily than lying on a bed, because on a bed gravity tries to unnaturally
straighten the spine.
But once we've felt the first pain from the dentist, it is hard to mentally relax, so start
with breathing. Take long, slow, thin, deep breaths. Make the breaths quiet and soft.
Feel your body settle and relax with each exhale. It is soothing.
As you feel your body generally relax, mentally search typical sources of tension - shoulders,
chest, lower back, hips, feet. As you discover the tension, mentally let the tension go, as
if you had been gripping something and then relaxed your grip. The relief is palpable.
In case you're wondering, this missal is not simply about relaxing at the dentist's office:
it is about figuring out how to relax no matter how adverse the circumstances. Not only
will the relaxation do you good, but the process of figuring it all out will provide
cognitive stimulus as well. Learning this trick can take your practice of Tai Chi Chuan
to a new level as well.