Week Three: Muscular System
One of the most commonly known systems of the human body is the muscular system. Unfortunately, that also means it is one of the systems most often unintentionally abused or misused. Even today, many healthcare professionals and trainers do not fully comprehend the natural functionality and responsibilities of the muscular system, but rather focus on visibly re-shaping the muscles and isolating muscle groups independently. Your muscular system is not only responsible for physical appearance, movement, and mobility, but also plays a significant role in digestion and the circulation of blood (and other fluids) into different parts of the body. Supportive of posture, including emotionally and physically protective postures that can become habitual, your muscular health can also reveal much about the health of your emotional body. This means you can work with your muscular system to release emotional stress and tension or work with your emotional body to relieve chronic physical pain.
The musculoskeletal system covers the entire body, head to toe, with multiple layers of musculature enfolded within. The deepest and most powerful layers are often responsible for integrating movement of the appendages (arms, legs, neck and head) with the stability of the core (hips, shoulders, and torso). When properly activated and balanced, all muscles work together to create efficient and coherent motion that does not easily cause fatigue or joint damage. For most people living in today’s world, the deepest layers of the muscular system are locked in perpetual tension (exacerbated by excessive sitting and deep emotional holding), leaving only the superficial muscles to perform body movements. This leads us to chronic muscle and joint pain, feelings of exhaustion and weakness, and difficulty expressing ourselves physically and emotionally. Fortunately, strength, stamina, and a feeling of expansiveness can be gained by simply unraveling this deep-seated muscular tension. Methods for releasing this tension will become more apparent as you connect with your whole being on every level. The reward of lightness and freedom within your body is well worth the effort of exploration.
Focus your awareness on your physical posture during your daily activities. Often, observing your movements and physical sensations will require you… to… slow… down.
Your muscular system is always communicating with you through its language of internal sensation and postural alignment. If you don’t slow down and listen to its whisper, eventually the unpleasant sensations become much more noticeable, communicating with your nervous system in a firm voice of muscular discomfort or a yell of chronic pain.
This week, focus on learning the language of your body. Notice and acknowledge any physical discomfort. Add to your day the simple, gentle daily stretches your body asks for. Consider adding a session of gentle yoga or massage therapy to your weekly schedule. With tender care, physically touch and mentally acknowledge the parts of your muscular system that need attention. As deeper layers of your muscular system wake up and start communicating with your nervous system, new sensations that may be mildly uncomfortable will present themselves and ask for attention. Acknowledge these signals and act mindfully to address them. As with all practices in this book, consider researching the subject more deeply, taking a class, or asking an expert as needed. While the interactions of the muscular system are complex, every step gives an opportunity to mindfully master your muscular understanding and control.
Duration and Frequency:
Try to become aware of your posture as often as possible during your daily activities. Get up, move around, and stretch after every 20 to 40 minutes of sitting. Continue any additional daily or weekly physical practices and therapies for one to six weeks or until you start to feel your muscular awareness expanding naturally.