"I think most people carry a lot of muscular tension that they are not aware of; I think that the difficult task of trying to learn Aikido makes them more anxious/tense; I think that this makes them work harder and faster despite good intentions. It takes a while to internalize the concept of staying relaxed while being faced with a strike - even a slow strike from a benevolent partner."
I have heard the words... relax your shoulders and settle in more times than I can count hehe. It truly is difficult to relax when you have a bokan headed for your forehead.
Fore me learning to relax and let myself fall was a very very difficult thing. I think as a newbie I do have alot of muscular tension. I try to hard to loosen up and relax that I believe I make it worse. I just try to take a deep breath and not over-think what I am trying to do. Sometimes I overt-hink things way too much and that causes me to tense up and speed up without realizing it. My sempei has asked me to break a movement down into points and that really seems to help me.
I didn't take ukemi the first couple weeks I was there, It was more of a mental thing than anything,. We practiced ukemi's during one class though and it made me more comfortable with the idea of it.
Also when I do kinda go the wrong way he stops right then in their in mid move and corrects me and explains why and how to correct myself. then he gently demonstrates why. I think I am getting better about not trying to muscle my way and speed up.