I first noticed the tension my body was holding some time ago while brushing my teeth. I'd been doing some work on awareness and conscious relaxation and as I stood at the sink performing a daily task that requires minimal energy I discovered I was holding my toothbrush with white knuckle tension.
I took a deep breath, relaxed my vice like grip on my toothbrush and dropped my shoulders. The sense of relaxation was immediate.
This got me thinking about other areas in my life where I was using excess energy to get things done. I found that driving was a definite area for adjustment, but it wasn't just me that needed to loosen up. I started spying on other drivers on the road and I noticed people with screwed up faces gripping their steering wheel and hunched forward in their seat everywhere I went.
I knew I'd made progress when a friend recently told me after a motorway journey "You look so relaxed when you're driving, like you're just sitting in an armchair."
I believe it's anxiety that makes us use excessive force where little energy is required. It's a similar thing to a person counting objects to gain control and order. When we're scared to let go and let flow we grip. But it doesn't make us drive any better, or do anything any better for that matter. Research consistently shows that we do all things better when we do them with relaxed awareness.
We don't need to be cracking nuts with sledge hammers, doing daily tasks with a lighter touch saves energy and reduces stress and muscle tension.
So today's Simple Act of Calm is this: start paying attention to your grip and see where you can loosen up.
Photo by emdot