I just started riding my motorcycle again after a very long time off. On last week’s ride I was working on remembering all the things I needed to do. I found myself working very hard to turn the bike and then recalled a very important lesson I had learned just before I stopped riding. “Relax into the turn”. When I’m trying too hard, one hand is fighting the other and the bike doesn’t know where to go. Without going too much into the mechanics of steering a motorcycle, when you’re turning, one hand is doing the work while the other hand could just as soon be off the handle. You simply relax into the turn – lefthand turn, left hand pushes on the handlebar and you relax to the left. As I remembered this, I felt exhilarated as I glided into the next turn.
I started thinking how universally the need to relax into a difficult task really is. When I was learning how to ski, I was often told that I was working too hard and I just need to relax into the turn. The same was true in snow boarding. When I stopped trying so hard and just leaned slightly forward and back, I seemed to float on the snow with ease.
When I am working with a dog, if I bring into the session a sense of urgency, of preconception or stress, the dog reads and feeds that back to me. I find that if I take a deep breath, calm my energy and relax into the session, the dog will do that too.
Recently I was lucky enough to watch renowned trainer, Sue Sternberg, give a workshop on how to calm stressed shelter dogs. She actually had the local shelter bring her three dogs she had not previously met. The thing I was the most struck by was that before the dogs were brought to her, you could feel her energy level palpably drop – not her enthusiasm, joy, emotion, just the overall energy. When the dogs were brought to her they were wound up and excited but, within moments of the two of them in calm communion, the dogs also noticeably calmed and 2 out of the 3 actually fell asleep.
When I’m trying to pray, it is the same. If I’m struggling to find the right words, to express myself eloquently, I feel stressed and unable to connect. My favorite form of prayer is through song where I simply relax into the moment and feel the feelings that the song evokes inside of me.
Even when I sit down to write, I’m often stymied by writers block if I’m thinking too hard. I usually have an idea of what I want to write, and those ideas often come to me when I’m in the shower, or drifting to sleep or on a long road trip, when I’m in my quiet moments. However for some reason, I jolt myself out of my quietness when I sit down at the computer to put those thoughts into words. My best verbalizations come when I allow myself a stream of consciousness and simply relax into the words, into the meanings. Editing can come later.
What will you relax into today?