Bob is an IT expert, 36 years old, educated and well-travelled. He has suffered from chronic pain-inducing muscular tension for about 15 years. He has tried various approaches… all to little avail.
I wondered whether he was approaching his situation from the wrong place. His approach was about what to “do” (Pilates, remedial exercises, fix his posture) or else passive (acupuncture or massage). I suggested to him that errant “doing” was actually part of the problem and that maybe there was some information that he was missing. To start with, he was unaware of his habit of tensing his neck every time he moved, something that was happening hundreds of times a day. Once it was pointed out, he was able to start to control this. (Being unaware of this particular habit can become a long-term problem resulting in having a very tense neck, and also inducing compressive tension throughout the back). Bob’s neck-tensing was part of an underlying habit of “trying”, which even extended to the way he looked at his computer screen. Bob backed off trying (to be right, to fix, to make things happen, to do, etc) and started to adopt more of the stance of an “interested observer”. Over a few short weeks, he was able to allow his neck to become freer and also to find a more economical balance for his body, relying less on muscular force (not so much holding himself up) and more on letting his bones carry his weight. Everything started to “relax”; not tense, not floppy, but still toned and ready for action. Bob was in much less pain, and also understood how he had unconsciously contributed to the pattern of pain through his habit of “trying too hard”.