Ballet is one of my beloved passions. I simply love to dance and love getting better as a dancer. It may sound funny,… as an adult… really????… should, I really still love my Ballet classes as much as a 12-year-old girl? …I don’t know if I should or shouldn’t, but I do.
For the last two years I’ve been studying with one of my all-time favorite Ballet technique teachers, Jackie.
After class, during my weekly private lesson, she stopped me in middle of an exercise and said, “Aileen, you need to find a relaxed concentration. You’re concentrating too hard on technique and it’s throwing you off of your music.” This hit me deeply.
… “relaxed concentration.”
It hit me like a ton of bricks…because, I recognized this isn’t just a ballet issue, this is one of my life challenges.
I tend to be a bit intense. Maybe it’s part of my Chinese Zodiac Ox influence.
In dance class I was so intensely concentrating on the technique (turnout from my hips, straightening the back of my knee etc..) that I was way off musically.
It was like the music was randomly playing in the background and I didn’t hear it. And, you know, that doesn’t make for good dancing.
It came up again, my over concentration, – when I was so focused on the musicality that I forgot the choreography, which again, doesn’t make for good dancing.
When we get myopic and focus intensely on a single aspect we tend to miss the big picture.
In dance, when we do this, we don’t look like DANCERS because we’re not filling the room (the stage) with our presence.
…Same as in life…
When I’m in that relaxed concentrated state, I relax into trust… trust that I can hear the musicality, trust that I know the choreography, trust the technique is in my body.
Now…that’s when the magic happens.
That’s when I actually look like a dancer and not a pedestrian adult trying to dance.
When I’m in that state of relaxed concentration – my movements are fluid and my energy fills the room. I feel confident and free. I remember the choreography because I’m not getting stuck; I’m fluid in mind and body.
It feels divine.
With relaxed concentration, we are aware, but not overly focused. We relax into the moment…we are alert. In this state, we are fluid and able to adapt and maneuver swiftly with ease. It is much more beneficial than being rigidly strong…rigid is more breakable.
So, if it feels great and it is great, then why aren’t we always in a state of relaxed concentration? Well, it’s simply not yet a habit.
Fascinating how old tendencies still come back sometimes. Cultivating new mental habits takes patience. Tiny steps … sometimes 3 steps forward 2 steps back… but we’re still moving forward.
When I set intentions for my day, I’m more aligned with my desired behavior, such as relaxed concentration. On the days that I don’t set the intention… I hop out of bed, chaotically leave the house and tackle the day…those days, I’m not so, “on”. …and everything feels stressful.… Those day’s the ugly habits are in place. I catch my face in a mirror, eyebrows lifted, forehead with furled brow and oh yuck! Hello stress, can you please leave now, because relaxed concentration is coming through, ok?
Today I invite you to celebrate relaxed concentration with me. Let’s take it into our day… ease the pressure a bit and …exhale…with a gentle laser focus, lets look around and take it all in.