Have you ever anticipated pain and unthinkingly tensed your whole body in response? Tensing in this way is perhaps the worst thing to do in that situation, but our fear and unconscious habits often drive us to do just this.
Usually, it would be far better to relax.
While tensing magnifies pain and may increase injury, relaxing minimizes pain and damage.
Tensing constricts energy flow, the very energy we need to avoid harm, while relaxation enables and frees energy flow and movement.
Tensing and relaxing refer not only to the body, but also to the mind.
A relaxed mind is creative, intelligent and quick. A tense mind is inflexible and has a narrow vision.
It's almost funny how the unconscious response of tensing is so contra-indicated in most situations, but it is so easy to do.
This is where cultivating relaxation and awareness can help.
By doing relaxation practices, we learn how to relax, and then can do so at will.
When we cultivate awareness, we enable ourselves to make choices as to our responses to situations, rather than unconsciously reacting. So, when a situation arises that would normally result in unconscious tensing, we can choose instead to relax.