Do you notice tension?
There is a lovely cycle path near me where you can just bowl along with only the occasional pedestrian or dog as a hazard. To get there I need to go along a main road, where potential hazards have my full attention – cars don’t always give you room, or even notice a cyclist. Pedestrians on their phone might just walk out in front of you. Etc etc. So, I have little spare brain to worry about how I’m cycling and to be honest it’s just not a priority – I need to stay safe.
But as I turn onto the cycle path I instantly relax a little and enjoy the blossom. That’s better…but hang on, I’m still hanging onto the handlebars quite tightly. To be honest I probably didn’t need to be holding them that tightly at all, but I definitely don’t need to now. Here I have the mental space to give what I am doing some attention: how lightly can I hold the handle bars and still have good control? There was no way I could think about that on the busy road. But here in a peaceful environment I can, and still appreciate the view, and say good morning to others, and enjoy the sensation of cycling on a lovely flat path.
The beauty of this is that practising not tightening my muscles unnecessarily will make my habitual level of tension less, and mean that I won’t tense quite as badly in the more stressful situation. And if I do, I will notice I’m tense more quickly and not carry on holding it for the rest of the day.
What causes you tension? Where could you practice using yourself more “gently” to help you with this?