Relaxing at a Red Light

About six years ago on a Monday morning, I was on my way to work and stopped at a red light. While I waited, I could see myself looking at my hands. They were gripped tightly around the wheel at ten and two. My hands had probably done that countless of times before, yet this time felt different. I tracked the tension in my fingers wrapped around the wheel, then up into my forearms, through my upper arms, and finally into my shoulders where they held tight and close to my ears.

If my hands had words, they would say “anxious”, “worried”, and “uncertain.” My body was bracing for something in the future. To be fair, my body knew what a Monday at work would be like; chaotic, fast-paced, and many other unknown variables. Thank you body for watching out for me! However, as I experienced this body awareness moment, I also sensed a choice point emerging. I could continue to ignore what my body was telling me or I could listen and respond in a caring and supportive way. I chose the latter.

To begin, I slowly and gently began to ungrasp the wheel and then wiggled my fingers every so slightly. The small movement sent a flood of information through my arms to my shoulders that it was okay to let go and relax. The light turned green and off I went to work, slightly more at ease and a lot more aware.

For the year that followed, I took small steps that allowed me to move in a direction with work that was more aligned for me. I valued my mental, physical and emotional health, a sustainable career, and most importantly, my body’s wisdom. With each step I took, I was communicating back to my body, “I’m listening and I trust you.”

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