Trapped and Tense: How Mental Rigidity Creates Physical Disfunction

Imagine a life bursting with possibility, a constant sense of exploration and growth. Now, picture the opposite: feeling confined, stuck in a routine with endless rules and regulations. Which scenario feels more energizing?

Our bodies crave expansion, just like our minds. While mental rigidity might not seem connected to physical health, it can actually have a surprising impact. When we feel mentally restricted, it can translate into physical tension. Think about how holding your breath makes your muscles tighten – that’s a small-scale example. Chronically feeling trapped by mental rules can create similar tightness in the fascia, the connective tissue that weaves throughout your body. This, in turn, can impede the flow of lymph fluid, a crucial waste disposal system.


There is a fundamental need within all human beings. Nature sets all animals to follow the same innate need: the need for expansion. As with all living beings, confinement is unnatural and deeply disturbing to the psyche. Chain a dog to a tree, and it becomes mean; cage a bird, and it longs for flight. Put animals in a zoo, and they suffer. Expansion is the innate striving for freedom, and total freedom is the most natural state desired within the heart and mind of man and beast.

Expansion meant being free from taxation without representation, and religious rules were the very foundation of our country.

You will long to get out when confined within any space for some time, regardless of the size of that space. Stay in your bedroom for a week, and you will wish to get out into the rest of the house; stay there for a month, and you will want to get outside into the yard. Stay in the yard, and soon you will wish to walk in a park. The need for expansion has catalyzed all exploration, including diving into the depths of the oceans and venturing into the farthest reaches of our planet, our solar system, and beyond. Constant physical and mental expansion is the natural calling of our very being. Physical, cognitive, and spiritual expansion is a quest for complete freedom; it is the soul’s birthright and instinctive need.


When natural expansion is withheld from a person, the result is sadness, anxiety, anger, resentment, and mental and physical atrophy. The most significant punishment we give is imprisonment, where expansion is all but completely taken away from a person. An imposed sentence of death is the complete end of possible expansion within life before its natural end.
Weight lifting is permitted in prisons in an attempt to elevate the emotional stress and physical atrophy that accompanies confinement. A prisoner’s day is filled with physical confinement and psychological rule-following. You are told when to rise, eat, work, shower, sleep, exercise, and how you must behave. The military is much the same in basic training, instilling unquestioned rule-following.

If we think back to our school days, we can see that confinement and having rules placed upon us caused, more often than not, rebellious behavior. Place rules on children; the first thing that comes to their mind is how to circumvent them. Think of any rule that has ever been imposed on you, such as bedtime and what and when to eat, and I am sure you will find that you looked for a way to get around it. Why? Because regulations are confining and human beings long for expansion.

We have been conditioned to think that following someone else’s rules is good. Don’t rules keep us in line and on the straight and narrow? If there were no rules, we would fall into chaos! Rules teach us how to learn and how to be. That has been propagated as truth, but it is not the truth; it is but confinement and control. The truth is that when people are taught to be in touch with their intrinsic humanity, rules are unnecessary. Do you need a rule to be kind to others? Do you need rules in order not to steal or lie? Do you need the Ten Commandments if you know that you are not just your brother’s keeper but that you are, in fact, your brother?

Misbehavior carries its punishments; nature sees to that. Should we believe that without rules, we would all be evildoers? How many rules do you follow today? Do you always drive the speed limit? Do you happily pay your taxes without looking for every deduction? Do you adhere to every mandate set by the government? Or do you long for the freedom to control your behavior and destiny? Do you mindlessly follow the rules just because they are the rules? We all break rules that we feel are unfair. Do we not strive to be better, do better, have, and achieve our dreams? When rules get in the way, we break them. When governments impose harsh rules upon the people, the people rebel and are often seen as heroes seeking freedom.
Rules, in fact, may help create misbehavior, and the confinement that rules create impedes natural creativity and the genius that is within all people. If old laws and regulations had never been broken long ago, we would be without many of the conveniences we enjoy today.


With expansion and freedom comes responsibility, and teaching responsibility has no rules, only consequences. The more responsible we are, the more we can naturally expand and feel the freedom of living without rules. We build a prison for ourselves when we eat, drink, think, and abide by self-imposed rules and regulations, and our personal life will shrink with the instilling of more and more rules. If we let cause and effect, self-awareness, consciousness, and our internal humanity guide us, there is no need for external rules. When we learn that what we sow is what we reap and that karma is the functioning universal law, manufactured rules will naturally fall by the wayside.

Collecting more material things, using drugs and alcohol to alter the mind, overeating, viewing pornography, and many other ills that humankind suffers from are all feeble attempts at experiencing the need for internal and external expansion.

We are social creatures, not herd animals. We must blossom into greatness and refrain from being reared like cattle into compliance with rules. We are all deeply conditioned to believe that rules and regulations are necessary and that without rules, our children will misbehave, be unproductive, and turn evil. Without rules, we all would find our more profound humanity, creativity, kindness, genius, and purpose that lies within. Those things can be taught just like rules are taught. Rule-following becomes unnecessary when we instill into our children that kindness, truthfulness, responsibility, awareness, self-control, not harming others, and love are the way to a successful life. A free person in body, mind, and spirit is a whole and holy individual.


Find a simple rule you have been living that will cause no harm to yourself or others if you break it, and break it. See how it makes you feel and how conditioned you are to follow the rules. See how it makes you feel to be a rule breaker. It will feel strange and most likely also freeing. You can work at becoming a safe rule-breaker with practice. We all possess the keys to the cage we have built for ourselves with the rules we accept and place on ourselves or have accepted the rules others installed upon us. There is only one rule: do no harm to yourself or others. Beyond that, continue to seek expansion and become a free rule breaker.

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