Have you ever made the opposite decision that you thought you would make? What happened to contribute to your reversal? Did someone issue a challenge? Was it self talk that changed your mind? Or did something just become easier or more clear?
The last option is what happened in my case: I learned, as I have many times before, that I was holding myself back from my potential--a realization that summoned the energy of change the moment I became aware of a limiting, untrue belief. Read on to learn how my belief that the stiffness and discomfort in my back while cycling was inevitable or possibly age-related--was not only untrue but unsafe!
Photo by Marie Westphal on Unsplash
After weeks of indecision about whether I wanted to buy a road bike, I found myself easily convinced this past weekend that I am ready to commit to cycling. I had engaged in numerous talks with Rick, my husband, about whether such an investment would work for us. Rick cycles an average of 30-40 miles a day and is only increasing his speed and endurance, however, I am more of a basket-on-the-front-ride-through-the-park kind of bike person.
Until this past Sunday during our mid-morning ride, I doubted that I was going to be able to justify getting another bike. I have long had safety concerns about sharing the road with car-drivers.I have had a few accidents and close calls in my life, so I consider safety more than I used to. Would I ever feel in control enough to settle in and really be a cyclist in the way that Rick and I were trying to imagine? Using a loaner road bike from a neighborhood friend, I have been putting myself to the test this summer, going out once per week with Rick, checking out how it feels to be on the road in this way, trying to find comfort, noticing my body and mind's response.
Though I generally enjoy exercise, I remained unconvinced. I did not like the feeling of having to strain and push myself, and I was unable to feel really safe while riding. Why was I not able to realize that the two were related? I blamed the bike, I considered whether I was getting too old to begin something new like this (that is hard for me to admit but I did quickly tell myself no way!). Our minds make up all kinds of limiting beliefs and we convince ourselves that they are true.
Imagine my surprise Saturday when I felt instantly better connected with the bike than on previous rides. I felt powerful from the first few yards of the trip, confident in my navigation, and fully comfortable during the ride. I could turn and see better in many directions while maintaining control. Several miles in, I felt I had not begun "working" as the ride was smoother than any had been prior to this day. This was a faster, longer ride than any we had taken together.
Four days prior to the ride, I did an Awareness Through Movement® lesson that reduced muscle tension in my back in significant ways, giving me dexterity and a nimble feeling that left me free and comfortable on the bike. Without the stiffness that I had felt on earlier rides, I was able to keep a faster pace while still enjoying the scenery.
Though I did not need any outside advice to know that it was going to be a good day on the bike, it was still satisfying when Rick, coming up from behind, said, "You look a lot more comfortable on the bike!" Yes, others notice these details more than we realize.
The teacher is also, and always, a student.
I take an ongoing class with a Feldenkrais® trainer, a teacher who has been teaching others how to be practitioners for almost 40 years. Not only is this weekly commitment an excellent form of professional development, but it also just feels really good to be led through a lesson and supported through my own growth/awareness process.
We recently did this specific Awareness Through Movement® lesson while lying on the stomach, and it was a challenge for me. In fact, through most of that day's class I felt unclear about what I was doing. As a trained teacher, I can recognize when a lesson is good for me despite its challenge. In fact, I accept that when I am confused, unclear, and having to stop myself from straining, it means I have stumbled into a perfect lesson for my particular ingrained habits.
As is often the case when we can let go of striving, remain playful and unserious, I felt wonderful at the end of the lesson, and obviously for days afterwards.
There is a movement option that is somewhere between rest and exercise. Mindful movement means that you learn how to pay attention to what you are doing. You discover ways that you can help yourself move and feel better. As you do that, you discover that you have possibly been accepting limitations that are not necessarily true. As you learn new options through practice, your entire self may open to new possibilities.
I am living a beautiful dream of sharing this work that has made such a difference in my life. My students attend class for different reasons, hopes, and needs, but it is great to be with them as they learn and discover for themselves what possibility and potential feel like.
Photo by Nick Lacy Photography