I recently had occasion to reflect on how it feels to go back to what we do after a break. The first emotion is fear. It’s been a while. You’re not sure how it will go. Last time wasn’t too great. You feel tentative and rather self-conscious. Just getting started is a struggle.


Every time you make a move, it seems rather strange. A bit uncomfortable. Clunky. You are very aware of how easily you could slip, especially at the start. You tighten a bit. You can feel the tension. Breath. Relax. Flex the muscles to release a bit of that apprehension. Remember, it’s not just about you. Others feel the same.


Gradually, it comes back. You had a good teacher. She emphasised the importance of having a really effective default method. She was right. You can improvise all you like, go off piste as it were, but you need to know the basics. And be able to implement them in practice. All those practical sessions back on the initial course. Wonder how the rest of them are doing? How many took it further?


It’s all about balance. Poise. Plus technique. The best are able to find the balance between too much structure and too much flexibility. You have to know when to slow down, even to stop and have a breather. But there is often pressure from others to get a move on. You can give in to that and it might go well for a while but….you can also crash badly. If you do, it can take just as long to get back on track. And if things do go wrong, you need a recovery technique. One which you have worked on and is likely to get you back on your feet quickly. Remember your coach, insisting that you practice those "what happens if…" moments?


Interestingly, the more you pause and take stock, and the more mindful you become about what you are doing (without becoming so obsessed with the technical aspects that you forget to go with the flow), the more likely you are to have a good run at it. After a good run, the next stages are easier. But live for the moment. The more you think ahead, the more you forget about the present and tend to anticipate things that might not be there or might never happen. If you do that, you might take your eye off the ball, off the important present moment. You might miss something really vital. So, try to stay in the present.


There is the related danger of getting it right and feeling that you have recovered mastery. And that now you can demonstrate your mastery to those who are observing. That can easily lead to a fall. You may need to take a few risks of course but remember about balance and poise.


There is another danger. The closer you get to the end, the greater is the tendency to speed up. That could lead to a big crash at the wrong time and it’s usually not just you who will suffer. That’s why the signs "rallenter/ralentir/langsam/slow" are so important at the closing stage. Indications like these, and all of the other advice, combined with a good pair of boots, should mean that your day on the ski slopes goes really well.


John Sturrock wrote this on his return to the ski slopes following a four year break. He wonders if mediators sometimes feel the same?

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