Life is either a great adventure or nothing. Helen Keller
Recently I again became aware of how much my mental state impacts my dancing. I previously wrote about uncovering unconscious self-limiting beliefs – and I’m working on that.
Yet, as my dance coach and instructor patiently continually points out, I unconsciously tense up (even when I think I am relaxed) when learning something new – whether it be a new figure, a new routine, a new dance – especially if I think it’s going to be difficult. Geez, not only am I not aware of the tension in my body, I intellectually know that this physical tension is actually detrimental to achieving my goals.
Ah – another journey into self-reflection – what is at the root of this unconscious tensing up? For starters, I am a both a perfectionist and an over-achiever – despite my efforts to allow myself to enjoy the journey. I work really hard when I’ve identified specific goals and I definitely have some specific long-term goals for my dancing. Not to say that the journey isn’t fun – it definitely is!
The upside is that I am finding myself practicing in new and creative ways – both at the studio and at home. However, the downside of my drive to “succeed” gets in the way of better dancing because “working hard” has somehow become defined in my unconscious mind as physically bulldozing my way through. In the course of reflecting, I also have discovered that the “tensing up” – especially in my upper body, has been my way to get focused.
So my question is how do I “relax” my body through the physical learning process – and when I am participating in competitions? I don’t have any answers yet. Sports psychologists have long studied how top athletes approach their mental game. Thus, I have begun looking at what athletes in other fields do – and was reminded of the myriad ways they up their confidence and focus. Great athletes use myriad approaches to get the results they want such as: establishing specific pre-game routines or rituals, using positive self-talk, incorporating a lucky talisman, eating a specific food, visualization, or incorporating known relaxation techniques such as deep breathing.
Not sure which of these approaches will work for me, but I am excited about exploring all the options. Stay tuned!!!