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IMGCA Article - Stress Management


A Subtle Stress Solution

Marissa Perez

I have been seeing the same chiropractor for years now. He has this fancy table with hydraulics to help maximize the adjustments he performs. It is effective but it also makes some loud noises that can startle a person, especially when combined with the earsplitting cracking coming from my back or neck! I have learned to adapt to the situation, though, because the positive results are hard to dispute. In fact, I have even learned a technique that helps me in other aspects of my life where I may be nervous or anxious in anticipation of something that may cause discomfort or pain.

My chiropractor uses a trick to help me relax before he performs an adjustment. While I am laying on my back waiting for him to adjust my neck for example he can clearly see that I am tensing up. He gently says, "Wiggle your toes for me." As I concentrate on moving my toes, he instantly adjusts my neck. Even though I know the trick, it still works every time! And it always makes me smile. It is a way of surrendering when resistance has no constructive purpose (as if it ever does).

I have started to see that if I "wiggle my toes" in other situations, it also helps me relax. For example, if I am donating blood and waiting for the technician to insert my blood-drawing needle thing (this is a no jargon zone), I focus on happily wiggling my toes, remembering which socks I am wearing, noticing where my feet feel warm or cold, and so on. Before I know it, it's in and I am past the scary moment in the alienating clinical setting and feel at ease in spite of the surroundings.

I have also used it when I am in a meeting and I am not sure when to jump in or say something and I have that generalized feeling of, "How am I going to contribute here? What can I add?" I wiggle my toes and remember to breathe. This helps me actually listen to what others are saying versus constructing my hopefully brilliant commentary. Wiggling my toes helps me feel grounded and remember that sometimes the smartest and most powerful thing you can do is to listen attentively with 100% presence. And if you manage to do that, the odds of saying something brilliant, or at least relevant, greatly increase!

Eckart Tolle has said in the Power of Now series that the body loves our attention. By bringing our focus back into the body and really being present in the body, we feel more energized and more peaceful. Ideally, you would do a deep meditation or visualization that involves mentally going through your whole body, being aware of all sensations, cherishing your cells, blood, muscles, and brain synapses while inhaling the aromas of lavender and rosemary. But if you don't have time for that, wiggle your toes! Your body will thank you for it and so will your overactive mind.

Copyright 2006, 2007 Relational Sensibilities

Marissa Nordstrom Perez is a freelance writer in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Visit

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