by Tara Stiles | December 14, 2020 5:29 pm
Use what you need. Rest what you don’t. We are familiar with this concept and practice when it comes to our environment. We know about best practices when it comes to conserving, recycling, and reusing. We hopefully do our best to participate. Even if we aren’t involved as much as we’d like to, we understand the concepts and know how to get started. It’s wild that the same principles apply to how we are in our bodies and minds but they are much more foreign to us. We are so used to accepting stress as a sign of success. We strain and struggle our thinking and force and push our bodies. We break down, burn out, and we accept it as part of life. The reality is we work quite differently. Graceful, efficient movement accomplishes much more than force, whether the challenge is simple or complex. Clear, open thinking leads to more possibilities than strain, no matter the problem. Improving starts with having a good look at our bad habits and being ready for change.
STOP “DOUBLE DOING”
We all have some funky habits and body positions that we fall into, most of which we aren’t even aware of. When I get excited about something, I know I tend to hold my arms and hands out and use big, exaggerated gestures. I’m not necessarily going to injure my- self with my overly excited hands, but this way of moving builds tension and takes away from whole-self harmony. Tai chi describes alignment as moving in harmony with your whole self every moment along the way. Any action that isn’t necessary to complete a movement essentially blocks chi. I don’t want to have blocked chi, so I practice relaxing my hands when I’m excited. I feel better and more relaxed, and find it easier to communicate when I’m relaxed as opposed to when I’m doing my tense-handed habit. I call this extra-hand-motion habit of mine “double doing,” because I’m emotionally excited and worked up in my mind, and I “double” that with my body. Many of us do the same thing. When we are excited, we show excitement with our physical gestures. Likewise, when we are frustrated or tense, we double this with our physical gestures. Similarly, double doing can occur when we are exercising—we clench our muscles instead of allowing them to move naturally and efficiently in ways that will benefit our bodies. When I notice that I am double doing, I make a concerted effort to drop my arms, shift into a more relaxed body position, shake things out a bit, and reconnect with my breath. When I come into alignment and harmony, I accomplish more. It’s extra motivation to understand that when you “double do,” you will experience fatigue more quickly because you’re working inefficiently, not because you’re building strength so well. It’s a useless kind of tired. Dropping the double doing will free up trapped energy and allow your body to gain more strength and a healthier range of motion.
Try this yourself. The next time you are walking along, or hanging out chatting with friends, take note of your body position. Stop whatever you are doing, stand with your feet apart in a wide, grounded stance, soften your knees, and take a few deep breaths. Notice in this simple standing position how your inhalations lift you, and how your exhalations relax you. Drop your shoulders and your arms, and let your body relax. These adjustments should be so subtle that the people around you don’t even notice. Your friends shouldn’t even notice that you are doing anything like tai chi or exercising. The secret is moving more efficiently, in a way that will allow you to look and feel more like you, and dissolve bad habits that have been sapping your energy and wearing you out.
Have a sense of humor about discovering your bad habits.We all have loads of them The quicker we get over ourselves and tackle moving better, just like we would recycle that glass bottle instead of tossing it in the trash, the easier we move into harmony. Heal ourselves, heal the world.That’s the practice we’re all working so hard for anyway, we might as well be working toward progress, instead of stressing ourselves out with no results.
From Clean Mind, Clean Body by Tara Stiles. Copyright © 2020 by Tara
Stiles. Reprinted by permission of Dey Street Books, an imprint of
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