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Relaxing Cranial Muscles

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Relaxing Cranial Muscles
Answer
10/1/14 6:13 PM
I've heard it mentioned a few times of relaxing ones cranial muscles.  I've figured out how to do it, at least to some extent, but I was wondering if this actually has any relevance to meditation?  I suppose it does have a relaxing and somehow meditative feeling to it, but why?  Is it some kind of two-way stream, where if you release stress your muscles un-tense, and if you un-tense your muscles you release stress?

-T

RE: Relaxing Cranial Muscles
Answer
10/1/14 9:45 PM as a reply to Teague.
Teague:
I've heard it mentioned a few times of relaxing ones cranial muscles.  I've figured out how to do it, at least to some extent, but I was wondering if this actually has any relevance to meditation?  I suppose it does have a relaxing and somehow meditative feeling to it, but why?  Is it some kind of two-way stream, where if you release stress your muscles un-tense, and if you un-tense your muscles you release stress?

-T

Cool, it seems you have found another golden key!  Rather than explaining my hypothesis or inserting links, investigate this:

When your cranial muscles are relaxed and remain relaxed does dukkha or stress arise?  When dukkha or stress arises are your cranial muscles relaxed or tense?  And when you become aware of your cranial muscles "tensed" up, what happens to stress or dukkha when you relax them?  Can negative thoughts even arise when the cranial muscles are relaxed?  What about other external tensions around the skull, i.e. "furrowing" of the brow, a slight frown or grimace, firm set jaw, slightly clenched jaw/teeth?  

One could go through other body parts areas, Chest, throat, sloar plexus.  

But it seems there is a mind/body connection here, as above so below, and that the external facial and internal muscle tensioning is a "mirror" of the mind, and also the mind "mirrors" the body.  It seems to go both ways. 

For instance, a happy mind creates a smile, and a smile creates a happy mind.

There are other proofs in scientific studies for this,i.e. "Power Poses"  will release testosterone, and decrease cortisol.....

It also seems that the tightened , or contracted mind has alot to do with the mental formation called the "ego", it seems that when the cranial muscles are contracted, it carries along with it the wanting to change the way things are, or the wanting to not change the way things are, (craving).  Or, in insight terms, not accepting or understanding anicca, dukkha, and anatta.

And, one last note, the tensioning and tightening of these muscle seem to like to tighten up all on their own (impersonal nature), so mindfulness is needed to be aware and release.

Anyway, still practicing and investigating myself....

Peace

Psi Phi

RE: Relaxing Cranial Muscles
Answer
10/1/14 10:44 PM as a reply to Psi.
Interesting.  You're right.  Even the focus required in typing these words tenses the cranial muscles.  Basically even just the act of thinking.  So yeah, there does seem to be a correlation or even causation.  It's funny, the way I figured out how to relax them is by reading posts on here I find myself getting relaxed (unless it's a battleground thread emoticon), and then I feel my cranial muscles un-tensing and once they start I can help them along.  I'm doing it now between typing sentences and it feels like my brain is reclining in my skull with a pleasant zone-out feeling.  I wonder if I can start tapping into the same sorts of feelings in my chest.

RE: Relaxing Cranial Muscles
Answer
10/2/14 12:29 AM as a reply to Teague.
Teague:
Interesting.  You're right.  Even the focus required in typing these words tenses the cranial muscles.  Basically even just the act of thinking.  So yeah, there does seem to be a correlation or even causation.  It's funny, the way I figured out how to relax them is by reading posts on here I find myself getting relaxed (unless it's a battleground thread emoticon), and then I feel my cranial muscles un-tensing and once they start I can help them along.  I'm doing it now between typing sentences and it feels like my brain is reclining in my skull with a pleasant zone-out feeling.  I wonder if I can start tapping into the same sorts of feelings in my chest.


Yes, and more synchronicity, (from other thread), earlier today I had also noticed the tightening when reading words, so I consciously "let go" of reading the words, yet still looked at the words, the mind would sometimes start reading the words and tighten, then I would "let go" of the reading and just be aware of the words(as a sight sensation) and the tightening would release.

Also, I think there are two entries into jhana, and maybe two types of jhana.  

One, the focused concentrative jhana that arises due to focus on one object and hinderances are suppressed.

Two, the open relaxed entry to jhana where one gently "lets go " of hinderances when they arise, and the jhana arises naturally, not through suppression of the hinderances, but through the "release" or cessation of the hinderances.

I think type two is more productive and that the practice also develops skills for both on and off the cushion.

The two types of jhana thoughts arose I guess due to the similarity between the tension of cranial muscles and the relaxed/tranquil state of the cranial muscles, it seems inter-related.  As, in my opinion, in jhana, there is just the pleasant sensations, traditional thinking slows, then ceases, sensations flow from pleasantness(piti) through to equanimity.

And , say one starts with the breath as object of meditation, then as one notices he relaxed state of the cranial muscles, one can move the awareness to the relaxed stae of cranial muscles, and use that as the new object of meditation.  And just like the breath, if the mind wanders, gently bring the mind back to the relaxed cranial muscle state.

This, is also seemingly related to suffusing the body as a soap maker would knead the soap and water together to make soap, all of the soap powder would become suffused with water until it was completley combined and mixed/saturated.

So too, one could work through the bodily and mental formations, tranquilizing each area/sankhara/formation, (just like one did with the cranial muscles) until each was saturated with the tranquility, from head to toe, from inside out.

I think in this way one can utilize the Satipatthana Sutta, and blend together Mindfulness and Jhana, maybe this is Vipassana Jhana, I'm not real good with all the terminology here.

And, I couldn't really tell you why this reply started going on and on...  (my minds impersonal nature , I suppose/ associated thoughts arising)

Anyway, back to my episode of Burn Notice on Netflix, yikes I am human!!

Psi Phi

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