We’ve had the treat in the UK of seeing Roger Federer play tennis every few days for the 2 weeks of Wimbledon.
His ease and grace playing tennis seem to belong to a superior being – so much so, that even if you don’t play tennis, you can be lost in admiration (and probably a touch of envy) for the beauty of his game.
That so many people admire these qualities in him, even when he doesn’t win, is remarkable. Somehow it doesn’t seem fair that Federer is able to perform in this way, while the rest of us suffer in awkwardness and stiffness, with aches and pains, struggling to achieve even a fraction of the ease that Federer seems to have. And that’s more and more of a concern as we reach middle age. It really is unfair.
Yet we’ve all had that ease and grace before, when we were toddlers of 2 or 3.
And we can re-learn it.
An experiment in ease and grace
Let’s try a little experiment in the creation of ease and grace.
Bring your mind into your right foot. Really get inside your right foot. Feel the pressure it puts on the floor, and the pattern of that pressure on the different parts of the sole of your foot. ‘Be’ inside your foot.
Now wiggle the toes of that foot, and let your attention centre on your wiggling toes, and the sensation of that wiggling.
Stop after about 10 seconds.
Make a mental note of how that felt.
Now, bring your mind up to the top of your head.
Keep your attention there, and see the space around you with an interested eye.
Notice everything that lies within your visual field – include your peripheral vision, both to the sides and up and down. Maintain as much awareness of your whole visual field as you can.
Keeping your mind in your brain in this way, and your vision alive, try wiggling your toes again for a few seconds. You may find that you need an extra few moments to get started, if your mind is properly settled in the top of your head.
And then stop.
Did that feel different from the last time? What was the nature of that difference for you?
There’s no correct answer to these questions, as every person experiences this differently. For me, with my mind in my brain, the movement feels lighter and freer than when my mind is in my foot; but for some others it will feel more solid with their minds in their brains. It depends on where you start from when you try this out, on what your habitual pattern is.
But whatever it feels like for you the first time, the ‘mind in the head’ version is the one that will have more ease and grace when consistently applied.
The ‘mind in the brain’ version is the Federer version – although he is probably not aware of it, as it’s just his way of being.
But the point is: it is possible for those of us not so lucky as Roger Federer to choose our manner of being, and to practice a return to the ease of toddlerhood in all that we do. It takes an exceptional gift and a lot of hard work to play tennis like Roger Federer, but we all have the possibility to learn to move in his ease-ful and graceful way.
Part of this comes from being aware of, but not over-focused on, our body. Which is what this little experiment was about.
I’d be really interested to learn how you’ve found this experiment, what your observations are about the difference between the two different toe-wigglings – and to learn who your ease-ful and graceful hero or heroine is, if it’s not Roger Federer. Leave a comment below to let me know.
Let’s explore more together…
If you’d like to hear more ideas for exploration of the way you move, and more ideas for achieving the ease and grace of your hero or heroine, sign up to receive notice of my blog posts (every 2 weeks); or go all the way and give me a call to arrange some ‘Toe in the water‘ lessons in the Alexander Technique!