Tension Grows While Relaxation Gently Spreads With Both Being Created In The Mind-Body


“If my mind is tense it spreads to my body. If my body is tense it spreads to my mind.

Relaxing my mind relaxes my body. Relaxing my body relaxes my mind”

by FitOldDog, July 11th, 2012.

Hi folks,

Farside, cartoon,I don’t know how many of you are watching the Tour de France, but I see snippets from time to time (FitOldDog doesn’t like televisions in his immediate vicinity), and it always impresses me. Those guys look as though they are out for a walk in the park most of the time, spinning those pedals at the perfect 90 cadence, even when standing. It looks so easy, but it is not. They are probably putting out over 250 watts most of the time, and the best I can do in an Ironman race is about 160 watts, and I train a lot. There are two keys to the performance of the professional athlete, apart from ideal genetics, I suspect: (1) they live their sport, and (2) they are relaxed. Tension slows you down. So how does one relax? This is an eternal journey.

Chez Ollie Nick (14) and Jess (17) head off for their first SCUBA lesson with Ricardo in Hawaii, and they had a blast – just click figure. The more you relax the longer your air lasts – it’s a fact.

If you look around, you will see tension everywhere. In the way people walk. The way they drive. Even in the way they talk to you. For instance, I was in the pool the other day, and I have a tendency to say ‘Hi!‘ to people, just to be friendly. I have been introduced to some pretty cool people this way, many of them being triathletes. One guy, called Tim, even mentioned me on his blog (Chez Ollie), as a result of such a casual pool conversation, leading to some traffic to this blog. That wasn’t my goal, but that’s what happened. A couple of days ago in the pool, I said ‘Hi howya doing‘ to a guy who seemed normal enough, but his reaction was seriously tense. He looked me in the eye, stuck his face a little closer to mine, and said, “Are you talking to me?” I said, “Yep!” He sized me up for a second, then said, “I guess I’m out of breath,” which didn’t make a lot of sense, but I just smiled, and replied, “I know how that feels, have a fun day.” Now, that’s tense! But how do you become ‘untense?’

Here are things I do to help relax my mind:

  1. Get plenty of sleep.
  2. Don’t take responsibility for other people’s problems.
  3. Be kind and generous (yep, it seems to help me feel good).
  4. Meditate consistently.
  5. Drink tea while sitting with our dog, Scooter.
  6. Learn from the cat (I wish a new cat would find me soon, as I still miss Alobar).
  7. Avoid irritating people.
  8. Read a good book with a happy ending, but not for too long.
  9. Exercise.
  10. Contemplate the nature of the universe.
  11. Take a nice long walk.

Here are things I do to help relax my body:

  1. Jackie Chan, expert in drunken monkey martial arts style,

    Jackie Chan is a remarkable athlete and a master of the Drunken Monkey martial arts style.

    Meditate whilst sitting and seeking tight muscle groups with my mind, and sending them kind thoughts.

  2. Apply rollers to tight muscles.
  3. Slap or shake tight muscle groups.
  4. Work to modify biomechanics to eliminate the things that induce muscle tightness.
  5. Study dance and Continuum.
  6. Think fluid thoughts as I train.
  7. Use a mental image to encourage muscle relaxation, such as a cheetah in slow motion, Jackie Chan doing drunken monkey style martial arts, or Farm Boy’s head movements when he is recovering from ‘being mostly dead in the ‘Princess Bride.’
  8. Apply Feldenkrais techniques to lengthen rather than stretch tight muscles.
  9. Shake my arms and legs as needed, even whilst riding my bike.

The funny thing is, whatever I do I don’t seem to be able to stop the soleus muscle in my right calf from tensing up on certain bike rides. Just haven’t worked it out yet, but it sure is a pain in the butt.

There is always something to work on, which is one of the joys of endurance training and developing a program of ‘safe exercise for better health.’ Underneath tightness (or tension) lies weakness, a common cause of damage to body or mind.

Fix the tightness, if you can, but at the end of the day you must address it’s cause.

-k @FitOldDog


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Disclaimer: As a veterinarian, I do not provide medical advice for human animals. If you undertake or modify an exercise program, consult your medical advisors before doing so. Undertaking activities pursued by the author does not mean that he endorses your undertaking such activities, which is clearly your decision and responsibility. Be careful and sensible, please.