I was listening to NPR one morning and there was a discussion of relaxation. A comment was made that a way to relax that people never think about is relaxing the jaw, and relaxing the tongue off the roof of your mouth. I did a moment of self reflection, and found that my jaw was grinding together, and my tongue was trying to push itself through the roof of my mouth in to my sinuses. In that moment I worked to follow the advice. It has has been one of the most difficult relaxation techniques I’ve ever tried. The first 2 days I worked at it I didn’t quite know where to put my tongue in my mouth. It didn’t seem to fit without gluing it to the roof of my mouth! Over the next several days I would bring my attention to my mouth, and find my teeth clenched together, and my tongue on the roof of my mouth.
I have practiced relaxation for years. I teach meditation, I practice yoga, I practice deep breathing daily. I have never noticed how much I clench my jaw and keep my tongue on the roof of my mouth. I am about a week in to a new practice. I don’t grind my teeth as much, but 90% of the time when I bring my attention to it my tongue is on the roof of my mouth.
My tongue actually feels like it fits when I relax it, and I am surprised and grateful for that 10% of the time that I find that my mouth is actually relaxed. I have found that through this practice my neck muscles have released some, and my jaw actually feels a bit better. I never thought that there would be a relaxation technique that would give me such trouble, that would take so long to do with ease. What it means is that I have been clenching my jaw and keeping my tongue stuck to the roof of my mouth for years.
I look forward to mastering this new relaxation technique, and finding one day that I haven’t been clenching my jaw and using my tongue to try to push my head in to the heavens. Until then I will practice what I preach, and practice relaxing.