These words came to me a few weeks ago while observing a newcomer in one of my classes struggling up front to cope with extreme self-consciousness while maintaining a strained smile. When I asked if she was willing to take some coaching she nodded “yes” and I suggested “let go of your face.

Her strained smile instantly dissolved, her eyes softened, and she breathed deeply as relaxation began flowing into her body and her being. The transformation held as she continued her turn. She had no idea that she’d been rigidly holding her face, and my words were all she needed to notice and let it go. At the next class she talked about how letting go of her face had been extremely beneficial in sensitive communications with her family.

I have come to recognize “Let go of your face” as a foundational coaching for my work in authentic expression, and I mention it at the opening of each session. The phrase seems to make instant sense and transmit something directly to the body without having to be understood or resisted by the mind. When you release your face you “get out of your head” and are better able to source your essential knowing.

Right now as you are reading this, what happens when you contemplate the suggestion to “let go of your face” as you take a deep breath?

Do you feel something drop away, as I do when I just typed it and every time I think that phrase?

What I’ve noticed is that I do not have to give any further explanation about how to do it. Everyone has their own way of holding their face and when given the suggestion knows instinctively what to do to relax it.

Why does this instruction work so well? In this world of appearances, which are deceiving, humans tend to identify with our face as if it is who we really are. On it we carry our image, our reputation, who we take ourselves to be. When we’re the center of attention we may unconsciously hold subtle tension around our eyes and mouth, and it becomes a Bermuda Triangle of constriction.

The organic process of dissolving self-consciousness and coming into one’s power in the world can start with the small surge of relief that results from noticing the habit of holding tension in the face.

Test this out now — go to a mirror and asking yourself eye-to-eye (out loud or within) to “let go of your face“? Take a full breath with this mantra in mind. Let me know what you discover!