Relief For a Stressed-Out Jaw

Relaxing the whole body can help keep the jaw relaxed, too

Q:

Other than basic stress-reduction techniques, can you suggest an imagery script for the relief of

Temporo-Mandibular Joint

Syndrome [TMJ], and its jaw joint pain and clicking symptoms? Is there a way to keep stress away from the mouth/jaw area?



A:

I think this is one of those times when the trick is to monitor yourself and learn to place your attention away from your jaw, but in a sequence that looks something like this:



1.

Notice when your jaw is tight.



1a.

Do not become critical of yourself for doing it.



2.

Breathe into your jaw, actively releasing as much tension as you can.



3.

Use imagery to soften and loosen the muscles in the jaw. For example, imagine the heat from warm paraffin soaking into your jaw or envision loving hands massaging it. To encourage more general relaxation that would then also loosen your jaw, image a favorite time and place, or that you are surrounded by a cushion of protective energy, one that is filled with love and care, prayers and good wishes, and favorite people. You can also use progressive relaxation or a yoga stretch--just make sure that whatever you do relaxes your whole body.



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The main thing is to become more present and aware, of yourself and your body, and have something kind and nourishing at the ready to give yourself to do when you notice that your jaw is tense.



I hope this helps a little. It's a matter of retraining yourself. (That's why those mouth appliances they give you aren't such a bad idea. They force awareness, and they interrupt your established pattern with a new one.)



And it wouldn't hurt to do some bodywork or some yoga therapy and get massages. Or take up a moving meditation practice, such as ch'i qong, which would afford you even greater benefits way beyond a looser jaw!


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Belleruth Naparstek
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