Recently on a warm cloudy day in Cancun my husband decided we needed to take advantage of tennis lessons at our resort. Our tennis instructor, Izzy, quickly determined that all the participants were absolute beginners. Balls were going everywhere except to the people and places they were intended.
After some forehand instruction, Izzy had us line up to hit balls that he lobbed to us. I didn’t realize it, but every time I went to hit the ball my face was clenched in scrunched up concentration.
Izzy was not a fan of my tight controlled approach at whacking the tennis ball. Every time I approached the ball, he would take his two hands and make a smile gesture at his mouth to remind me to loosen up. And each time Izzy reminded me to smile, I could feel my whole body and approach shift. I was going with the flow of the ball instead of forcing it with my power.
Later that day, I tried the same smile approach with archery and had my best outing ever. No walk of shame to pick up arrows that missed the target. It wasn’t all bulls’ eyes, but I was consistently hitting the target.
My tight grip on life started early as an attempt to control and manipulate the chaos around me. Decades ago, I became conscious of my controlling and manipulating tendencies through counseling and Twelve Step programs. My counselor, Dr. L, would routinely remind me that I was the “Junior Partner” in my life story because of my intense attempts at control in all aspects of living.
In Twelve Step programs they talk about healing as layers of an onion. Control and manipulation of life has been that onion for me. Now instead of the overt actions manipulating life events, control shows up in subtle ways like my tennis lesson.
Even though it is slight, control is control and I know it negatively affects my wellbeing. Surrender is now a key part of my meditation practice each day. I consciously drop all tightness and grip I have on life. I invite ease and the natural flow of living with a smile.
If you need help with loosening your grip on life, contact me at laina_crew@synchronizeforlife.