An Ode to Flexibility

Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape.
                                                               MICHAEL MCGRIFFY M.D

 

Do you ever get bent out of shape?

I certainly do.

I am working on noticing sooner where in life I am rigid, where I am flexible and where I am over-flexible, not honoring my own desires and boundaries, but putting others before my own well-being.

It’s certainly an ongoing task, and in some areas of my life it is easier to pay attention to it than others.

Is that true for you as well?

Flexibility is important. As much as we might like to, we cannot control what is coming into our lives and how it’s showing up. Therefore the question is:

Can I stay true to myself and not be endlessly triggered by life around me?

Can I adjust in the moment, adopt a different stance, see other options, let go of stories and not take it all so seriously?

 

Over the last few years I have found a great teaching ally on this topic: my body.

My body was showing me where I was getting into set patterns and beginning to limit myself: more aches and pains, a few restrictions. So I set myself on a path of daily stretching and a variety of exercises to keep my body in surprise and flexibility mode. This has paid off big time.

I am very aware now how much my body affects the possibility of more flexibility in every other aspect of my life: emotionally, mentally and spiritually.

A flexible body provides me with a foundation to explore that concept in other aspects of my life. I notice that it offers a grounding that the more etherial aspects of my being can trust and relax into.

When emotions like anger and frustration arise, I can use my body to support and express these emotions by adding a few boxing jabs and kicks into the air (in the privacy of my own home, no physical contact recommended –LOL), allowing the emotional wave to move through me freely and harnessing my life force at the same time. Rather than stuffing my feelings and wallowing in the story, I can allow them to run their course, amplified and therefore shorter in duration. At completion, I feel a rush of energy course through my body, enjoy the uplift and get on with my day.

Of course, my mind and personality are where I especially notice how easily I get trapped into lots of rigidity or become overly flexible in order to be valued by others. All the patterns and habits, the cultural and societal indoctrination work on me. Layer upon layer.

Sounds familiar?

Those scenarios could easily get me down and stop my expansive life force. I now have learned that if my body is flexible in a healthy way, feels free and open, these sensations translate into my attitude towards life. I feel more receptive to the world around me. It is as if there is more freedom in how I meet the world through my bodily vehicle.

The more I trust my body to deliver and be ready for my day, the more I can put attention on what is going on around me. I can relax into my body and be present and notice what takes my attention. Rather than trying to control, I receive and act from that place.

Instead of same old patterns playing out, I have more room to notice, if I am ready for a stretch and can move myself into a different point of view.

A flexible body also seems to offers me more courage and curiosity, both of which help release the mind’s stronghold on how life should be done in order to keep me “safe”.

I can look at a situation and determine if I am getting caught in rigidity or over-delivery, or if I am open to receive the situation and potentially come up with a new response that serves me better.

 

So here is a practice for you to explore:

Sit down with a journal and put yourself into a quiet space. Answer the following two questions. Make sure to write down several answers. The 4th, 5th, 6th are usually more true and therefore powerful to know.

An aspect where I am rigid in my life is…

A way I can be less rigid about this is…

Now focus on the next two questions:

An area in my life where I am too flexible is..

A way I can set a boundary is…

Once you came up with a few responses, spend a few minutes stretching your body, slowly and deliberately. Make sure to include your arms, neck, back and legs to the best of your ability.

Then explore:

An aspect where I am flexible in life is…

A way I can support and maintain that is…

Notice what arises.

Being flexible asks you to inquire:

Am I willing to take some time and notice where I am stuck, create friction in relationships, want to make something happen my way, know better?

Am I willing to let go of a point of view, to try new things, to take on a different perspective?

Am I willing to put boundaries in place when I am self forgetting and over-giving?

 

And, can I do so gracefully?

 

Let me know your insights in your comments below!

If you find some challenges in creating this change in perspective for yourself, let’s have a conversation and explore how I can support you in making this happen.

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