A while ago, while practising a Breath Control System with a small group, we witnessed a peculiar but frequent twist in human behaviour.
A lady who’d never done this before, couldn’t get into it and suggested she should go, not wanting to be a distraction to anyone else. Another lady present, a breathing practitioner, suggested she might just sit and watch and see what went on.
So we got on with it for another twenty minutes or so.
By that time, the lady with the difficulty had got completely involved. She remarked that she was more relaxed, more focused, feeling very much at ease.
I asked her how she ‘d got into it. ‘I just stopped trying’, she answered.
And she reflected a common trait. When we learn something new, our aim is to get it right. And that’s good.
And it can be bad. We want to get it right. Now! This instant! Straight away!
This intention is fine, but it can set unreal expectation. So when it doesn’t get done as well as we want it to be done, we get frustrated, irritated, disappointed. So we try again. Only harder. We get more tense, the body goes rigid, and the mind gets distracted, in which condition the chance of success recedes in direct proportion to the increase in effort.
Tense, fearful and apprehensive, our faculties and abilities shut down and we torpedo the very thing we’re trying to do.
But we’ve been taught to persist. So we keep trying. Only harder. Which brings more tension. More mistakes. The chances of learning, seeing, understanding have by now reduced to somewhere between very little and nil.
We then need to change how we’re using ourselves. We need to stop. Halt. Let it go.
Then start again, from a thoughtful, rehearsed, and practised backdrop. We need to discipline the rate at which we’re impressing on the mind and on the body what we’re doing.
Watch someone else do it. See how they move, stand, or sit, how they appear, what they seem to feel. And then see, in our mind’s eye, how we appear and feel as we do it. In other words, visualise it. Rehearse it, mentally. Then physically.
Begin the actual rehearsal, slowly. Allow the physical movements catch up with the pictures in your head. Take your time.
Let it happen, slowly, smoothly, easily.
When the great racing driver Sir Stirling Moss came to a new circuit at which he’d never driven before, he often drove around it in a saloon car, sedately familiarising himself with the shapes, contours, cambers, fast bends, slow bends, braking points, suitable pasing areas, and so on. He took the time to let his mind and and his body learn the requirements of performance.
Take a tip from Stirling. Practise slowly, learn quickly.
Just like the lady who learned to breathe.