Watch Your Ass: an unusual shortcut to full mind-body relaxation
Over the past few years I’ve become well acquainted with my inner asshole. I don’t mean the metaphorical part of my psyche that’s a jerk, I mean my literal, physical, anatomical butt. I’ve been observing how the state of my rear affects my communication, sex, mood, and life. Let’s start with the basics:
We subconsciously clench our muscles as an attempt to gain control over our situations.
When we see someone whose shoulders are permanently hiked up, we can make the educated guess that their mind is stressed. Same goes for when we see someone repeatedly clenching their hands.
Mental stress and physical tension are co-variant. An increase in either typically increases the other.
When we feel overwhelmed, clenching muscles gives a false sense of control because of the feeling of exertion. (Even if we’re not exerting against anything but ourselves.) The hardest part about learning to ride a bike as a child isn’t balance, it’s learning to not clench our bodies against the prospect of falling.
We all know that the more we can stay relaxed physically, the more we can handle mentally. The anal sphincters get clenched most often unconsciously because they are hidden from view. They are also one of the most important muscle groups to keep relaxed.
The anal muscles are like the master valve for sensation in your body.
When I started paying attention to my rear, I realized I clenched my butt every few minutes. Just about anything uncomfortable caused it to contract:
- Emotional dismay: irritation, annoyance, judgment, embarrassment.
- Intellectualizing: trying to figure out problems or organize convoluted information.
- Physically Exertion: awkward yoga poses, high rep exercise.
- Sex: pulling for climax, whenever sensation gets really high.
When someone is a “tight ass” we already know that means they are rigid or resistant to spontaneity. This is more literal than many realize.
Sphincter muscles are like valves in a water system. They are designed to open when our body wants something to pass through, and close when our body doesn’t.
The only good times to clench our rear sphincter is 1) to hold in excrement, or 2) prevent something unwanted from entering. Any other times we clench we are reducing circulation and reducing the flow of sensation.
It’s a final attempt to resist our circumstances: if we can’t control them, we can stop ourselves from feeling them.
My clients who have had sexual problems almost always realize they have been unconsciously clenching their rear almost all day. Clenching is a way to literally reduce your feeling in your body.
Just as it’s near impossible to run slowly while pumping our arms quickly, it’s difficult to do anything gracefully with a clenched butt. An acting teacher told me: “The ability to relax the sphincter in performance leads to more freedom and availability in one’s work.”
Learning to keep that muscle group allows us to feel more and move and think with more flow. Here’s what we ought to know about the anatomy:
We have two sphincters back there
If you were a good student in 9th Grade Bio, you may remember that our anus is made of two sphincters that permit passage through the colon like the alternating locks of the Panama Canal. (Which you’d understand if you were a good student in 8th Grade History.)
The Outer Sphincter is well within our control. We contract it to hold in a fart. We relax it to take in a thermometer (hopefully.) Most don’t realize the Inner can continue clench even after the Outer has been relaxed.
Your visible anatomy seems open, but you’re secretly closed on the inside.
Relaxing the Inner Sphincter feels much more vulnerable. To truly relax is to truly all the world in; to surrender control. It requires a level of faith and trust in your circumstances. It’s far more psychological than physical, (and perhaps more spiritual than psychological).
Consider your anus. If there’s one thing you can focus on today that would benefit your mind-body performance, it’s relaxing your rear. Watch the video above if it seems difficult. Don’t be surprised if it becomes an emotional challenge. Who knows what you’ve been resisting?