‘Relax, relax, relax”.
These are the 3 words my Thai boxing instructor constantly reminds me.
So I relax and straight away, I notice that my focus becomes more clear.
I can see the punches and kicks he is about to throw and react with blocks. It is almost as though I am reading a book.
But then I start to overthink the next combination of punches and kicks I am going to throw and the next thing I know, he has landed a punch or a kick that I wasn’t expecting.
I have tensed up and lost the flow.
“Relax, relax, relax”, he says.
And as soon as I do, the focus returns and my blocks, kicks and punches flow naturally and effortlessly.
Anyone who is a martial artist will know that it is hard to stay relaxed when you have someone throwing punches and kicks at you.
Which, let’s be honest, is not surprising. We are trying to defend ourselves and so the brain naturally puts us into the fight or flight response.
But it is not just martial arts where you can see this happening. You can often see it in team sports such as rugby or football when a team is under a lot of pressure. They tense up and make mistakes, whereas a confident and relaxed team appears to almost effortlessly dance around their opponents.
Because when we are relaxed, the mind ‘flows’ with whatever is happening around us and as a result, we tend to react in a calm and controlled way.
But as soon as the mind worries or we become tense, we tend to misinterpret things and let our previous thinking or thought patterns get in the way.
This clouds our judgement and leads to mistakes.
But how do we relax when stressful events are happening around us.
We quite simply focus on the body relaxing.
Drop the shoulders, relax the face muscles, breathe more slowly and smile.
We bring our attention into our body, notice any areas that feel tense and relax them.
We can also take some deep breaths into the abdomen and slow our actions down which also helps us engage in the present moment and flow naturally with the situation at hand.
And in this state of mind, we are far more prepared to tackle anything that comes our way.
For as soon as the body relaxes, the mind relaxes and when the mind is calm, the biggest problem in the world feels like the smallest,
But when the mind is agitated, the smallest problem can feel like the biggest.
This is the power of relaxation.
But when we are stressed, our minds tend to forget these gems of wisdom and we get drawn into our emotions.
So here is a great tip to help you remember.
Set your phone or watch to chime once every hour.
And every time you hear that sound, check in on your body. Notice how you are feeling and take a few moments to relax.
After a while, this becomes second nature and you find yourself checking in with your body and relaxing constantly throughout the day.
The results are that you work more efficiently, communicate more effectively and experience more pleasure in everything that you do.