Let's revise the basic principles of conditioning:
Many years ago, Pavlov referred to physical stimuli that precede biologically significant events as the First Signal System. Such stimuli allow an organism to anticipate biologically significant events and thus deal with them effectively when they occur. For example, we avoid hot stoves, and we salivate when we are hungry and see food. Pavlov called the first signal system "the first signals of reality". In addition to learning anticipatory responses to physical stimuli, however, humans also learn to respond to symbols of reality. For example, we become fearful when we hear words like "fire", "danger", or "enemy". Likewise, we feel good when we hear the name of a loved one or hear such words as "love", "peace" or "friend". Pavlov called the words that symbolize reality "signals of signals" or the Second Signal System.
Some disorders are initiated from the mental then triggered by environmental factors including anticipatory responses to words or other forms of language.
As part of our human society, we are daily in contact with potential sources of conditioning (language and method of communication largely used in advertisement.), intruding our life, our emotions and even in our decisions.
All these sources are incessantly growing in number and in intensity. A classic example is the fear of stress and anxiety which was clinically studied with its associated body responses (especially during surgical shocks) such as sudden death or ulcers. To decondition our Central nervous system, the best alternative is to use simply our most natural response: deeper mental relaxation due to the supportive action of further muscle relaxation and its positive effects of optimism and psychological well-being. By persisting in Zhan zhuang, you will acquire progressively beside a better physical condition but also a stronger mental which helps to fight again many disorders directly or indirectly induced by these environmental factors such as stress.
Expression relaxation is another method of mental inducement in Zhan zhuang. As an application of the principle of "second signal system" explained previously you can recall happy memories, situations, impressions, emotions .all which help you to be in a good mood and relaxed. Externally you should be smiling but not exaggeratedly (inward smile).
Why do we request this? From an anatomical and physiological point of view it gives us more rational and obvious explanations. Our Cerebral Cortex will receive signals from facial muscles/nerves which as usually triggered in circumstances of happiness or any expression of good mood including laughing. This is also the reason why one's may involuntarily laugh when we are seeing others laughing during stage performance or hearing a joke. This laughing behavior is in fact a situation when your mental and spirit reach a state of freedom and lightness, at that time you feel your body also very comfortable and relaxed.
By adopting an "inward smile" you will be able to adjust more effectively your mental and your muscles in their relaxation process but also to reach faster comfort and relaxation.
During Zhan zhuang, shoulders' muscles are easily submitted to overexcited nerves. To verify it examine your shoulders if they are rigid, local muscles are stimulated. Check if your breathing is deep and natural, if your chest if feel suffocated, etc. If it is the case, first inhale slowly until your lungs are filled to capacity, enlarging your thorax, and after stretch your spine vertically and straight upward, and slightly swaying sometimes leftward or rightward, exhale slowly, at this time shoulder muscles are following the contraction of thorax during exhalation and just naturally relax.
You may use this method every interval of 4-5 minutes and take 2-3 times deep breathing (exhalation relaxation).
V.1.4 Jiggling relaxation
Jiggling relaxation method requests all joints into tiny movement as to relax muscles.
In Zhan Zhuang although you are requested to maintain a non-moving posture, but in order to check relaxation in your body, differentiate, compare and understand if local muscles are overexcited, you may use, after an interval of 5-10 minutes, your four limbs into very small upward - downward, leftward - rightward, forward - backward movements, relaxing local muscles and easing respective muscle/bones position within your overall posture alignment.
In Zhan zhuang exercise maintaining your posture during 10-20 minutes, part of working muscle may start to feel acid, tingling, swelling and painful, being progressively unbearable: at this time you can drop down your hand, straighten your leg, and slightly clench your fist several times, or rotate your wrist, moving other working joints, changing into another posture before resuming your exercise. This method can be applied by the practitioner accordingly to change in his internal body, adjust actively his posture and relax his muscles.
Passive posture adjustment relaxation method needs the guidance of ZZ experts/medical professionals to check, at any time, correctness of ZZ posture, correcting in time any mistake, and who can also interact with the practitioner by shaking, quivering, supporting, touching, swaying, pulling, etc. as many possible techniques to help him reaching "passively" relaxation. The practitioner may also be guided through vocal instructions.
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