5 simple steps to unwind tension
Updated: Dec 25, 2017
Whether you're trying to soften your own trouble-spots or facilitate therapeutic change for your patients, these simple steps can help.
All change is challenging, even in the right direction.
Right down to the cellular level, our systems can be in either healing + growth mode OR protective + bracing mode, but not both simultaneously. When you consciously facilitate that shift into healing mode, the system can soften and unwind, with a more profound ability to release stored tension.
Follow these simple steps next time you're trying to facilitate change - whether in your own system or for a patient - and notice how everything becomes a bit easier.
1. Establish Safety: Since the body can be in either bracing/defense mode OR growth/healing mode and not both simultaneously, the first step must be to help your system identify the environment as a safe environment in which to unwind. This is most often accomplished simply by turning attention to your breath, establishing mental presence, quieting the chaos of life, and consciously focusing on reassuring your body that it is safe in this moment. This step may also include activities to create a safe space in which to unwind, including adjusting lights and sound, moving to a room where you already feel safe, establishing communication boundaries for uninterrupted time, and clothing or blankets for sensory comfort.
2. Facilitate Softening: A continuation of the breathing and focused presence, this is where your system begins the unwinding process. You may notice that softening begins immediately upon establishing safety, and can be further facilitated with specific visualizations. This step is really about allowing the body to soften and let go of whatever it’s naturally able to do without pushing.
3. Expansion: In this step, we start to “yawn open” the windows bit by bit, assisting the body in opening and moving through the stuck places as much as possible, but – and this is CRUCIAL – without pushing into a “guarding” or “bracing” mode.
4. Re-Establish Safety: Before barreling through opening everything at once, we want to re-establish the sensation of safety, even with just a small pause and check in to give the system a moment to recognize that the newly opened space is safe. All change is challenging, even in the right direction. So, it’s crucial that we take these moments to re-establish the sensation of safety and reassurance before trying to open and release deeper tension patterns.
5. Integration: Repetition helps the brain create a new pattern so it’s less likely to regress into old bracing habits. We want to practice moving through the newly opened setpoint with ease and fluidity, without trying to open further just yet, so everything “gets with the new program”. Think of it like riding a bike: at first, you have to think about all the moving parts, but once you’ve practiced over and over it becomes second nature and apprehension dissipates entirely as the brain establishes an autopilot program running in the background.
6. Concentric Repetition: From this place, we can come back to repeat steps 3-5 concentrically bigger + deeper, unwinding and expanding additional bracing patterns. In this way we build greater fluid ease over time in a way that is truly long-lasting and builds resilience along the way.
To dive deeper into the Integrative Therapeutic Resonance framework, visit resiliencereset.com/videos for a free mini-training with specific visualizations + tools to unwind from chaos to calm.