On Pressure or, How Tightly Do You Hold Things When Only Lightness Is Needed?

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On pressure or,

How tightly do you hold things when only lightness is needed?

I was sitting on some bizarre exercise machine whose official title I do not know to name, when the words were said to me that changed my relationship to my body and my horse from that moment forward.

‘You don’t have to hold the handle like that’, my teacher said. ‘You don’t need to use any pressure. If you just understand the direction that you want the movement to take, then you can just allow your body to follow. You don’t need to force or push.’

I sat for a moment, stunned by what probably appears to be a fairly run of the mill observation. Little wires inside my brain started buzzing with the creation of new circuits. I finally ‘got’ something- not as a basic understanding, but in the cells of my body awareness of my relationship to pressure. Sitting in a beige and boring room, no horses within sight, and yet everything about how I would approach them moving forward being changed.

I realised: I had a habit of applying pressure, in everyday situations, in life where it absolutely wasn’t needed.

I repeated the exercise again, this time without the force. My body flowed. There was no restriction or compression. I had been adding energy to something that didn’t result in an addition but only ever took away.

Since then, I have become obsessed with noticing our everyday use of pressure. How lightly (or tightly) we grip a pen. How we hold onto our mug. The sound of other’s footfalls when their going up the stairs. The type of grip a person uses when holding onto the steering wheel. It all matters. It’s all energy consuming (and energy conserving when we start to reconfigure our habits and movements a different way).

It all flows through. How heavily you hit the stairs correlates to how much pressure you put into the stirrups in the rising or posting phase of the trot.

If you hold a pen with a lot of unconscious force, what is the pressure you’re applying down a lead rope?

Do you grip your tea the same way that you hold onto the reins?

I’m convinced that we would have so much energy at our disposal, would find ways to make so much of what we are challenged by more easeful by examining the ways in which we push. By looking at what force we are using when no force is needed. By looking at what we are gripping onto, when it would lie easily in our palm if left alone.

Take out your pen and write. Can you create a new story, but use less pressure to bring it to the page?


❤️ Jane

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