Posts Tagged ‘mind’

Stretching Feels Good, Once You Get Past the Uncomfortable Part

December 14, 2010 Leave a comment

When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be. ~Lao Tzu

Last week while I was practicing a really intense stretch to improve my back flexibility, I got a cramp.  I quickly backed out of the stretch. My body wasn’t used to working in such extreme ranges of motion and my mind’s tendency is to resist against such new and unusual requests. Whatever the mind thinks, the body takes as direction.  Stretching shows me where my current limits are and reaching beyond those limits is always uncomfortable, extremely uncomfortable.

I needed to convince myself that I was okay, that nothing bad was going to happen to me and that my body was safe from harm.  I had to earn my own trust, physically as well as mentally. Even though it was totally counter-intuitive, unless I leaned in to the discomfort, relinquished some control and believed that I was doing the absolute 100% correct thing, not only would I miss out on achieving my goal of becoming bendier, but I would also risk injury. With that in mind, I performed the stretch again. Every time I thought the stretch was becoming too intense and I got uncomfortable, I instructed the muscle that was threatening to tighten up to relax and then I waited for it to release the tension.  Once that happened, I was able to move deeper into the stretch.  By acknowledging the discomfort of the stretch and letting go of the resistance to the discomfort and practicing a great deal of patience, I had earned my body’s trust and cooperation. We were on the same team, working toward the same goal and it felt amazing.

I can apply this lesson to other areas of my life as well and I need to. I sometimes hold on tightly to an outcome and muscle my way through the process, even when it’s clear I’m making things worse and more painful by doing so. I lose my patience when things aren’t happening quickly enough and that delays my progress. I let myself get distracted with minor annoyances and forget to focus on the greater goal. Admittedly, once I step outside of my body and into the real world, the scope of the challenges and skills I wish to master can feel overwhelming at times, but they don’t have to. Instead of backing out of the discomfort I feel when I’m challenged, I can move into it. I can find the one issue or area that is most uncomfortable and sticky and be committed to unsticking it without distracting myself with drama.  I can wait for that moment when patience and persistence subdues the resistance and then relax into the solution that has been waiting for me to discover all along.


Cleaning Up the Mind Mess

February 15, 2010 Leave a comment

A man is what he thinks about all day long ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

No one will ever accuse me of being a neat freak.  I derive very little pleasure from the act of cleaning, and it sits fairly low on my general priority list. At some point, however, the stacks of paper piling up around my work area, the kids’ toys overrunning the house and the general chaos and disorder resulting from not managing my stuff really gets to me.  Eventually, cleaning up becomes the more attractive option to just being irritated at the mess and stepping on small sharp LEGO pieces that hurt like a &*%#@!

A messy house is bad, but a messy head is worse.  This week I had a pile of crappy thoughts that were really getting in the way of me bringing my best self forward.  They were so distracting and painful that I had to do more than just swear at my mind LEGOs.  There are times I look forward to cleaning up the mess in my head, and, at other times, it seems so daunting—like taking on the task of cleaning out a house inhabited by hoarders.  This week it felt like a chore.  I had somehow recently convinced myself that I was too busy to tidy up my thoughts on a regular basis, but I know way better than that.  I know my mental hygiene is at least as important to my well-being—if not more so—as my dental hygiene.  It would never occur to me to just skip brushing my teeth, in fact, as I think about it now, I’m thinking ew, gross.

Before I knew anything about mental hygiene, I would have had a crappy thought like, I am not good enough, hooked-in to that stressful thought, sought evidence to support it and spiraled down into a funk with it. It’s the mental equivalent of seeing a pile of garbage, choosing to lie down in it, piling even more filth on top me and complaining about all garbage surrounding me.  It’s totally insane. I will most likely never completely avoid crappy thoughts (master meditators back me up on this one), but that’s okay because I have learned not to believe every single thought that pops into my head—especially those icky ones.  Just catching the thought gives me power because I know that once I’m aware of it, I can challenge it.  By questioning the thought, I see its blatant flaws and eliminate the suffering that is caused by believing a lie.  Do I really believe the thought I’m not good enough? No, I really don’t.  In fact, I can find tons more evidence to support the far better feeling thought, I am the best me there is.  It’s true. I’m the bomb when it comes to being me.

Thankfully, both my house and my head got cleaned up this weekend, and I know if I want to keep things clean, maintenance is required. I’m so on it. Going through my thoughts one by one, I keep the helpful ones and replace the ones that don’t serve me in any way.  Pretty soon my mind is tidied-up, organized and I have a nice place to spread out and get on with the work that only I can do in the way only I can do it.  This is way more fun than wallowing in filth.

Spring is just around the corner. If you’re planning a major house cleaning, and you notice some clutter collecting in the corners of your mind, consider a head cleaning, too.  You may spend anywhere from a few moments to many hours in any room of your house on any given day, but you occupy your headspace 24/7—creating a hospitable environment there makes all the spaces that you occupy outside of your head more inviting, too.