Yoga - for the purposes of this post, I am focusing solely on the physical strength and flexibility required.
Sometimes life feels like trying to do yoga with rigor mortis.
There's just one small catch. I'm not dead.
I can think of two specific life events that have been instrumental in my process of learning to accept change, but really, change is inevitable and dealing with it is a life-long process for all of us. Often one change sparks another - and it can snowball from there.
There are times when I eagerly anticipate change, when I am excited and ready to move in a new direction; there are times when I take an apathetic approach; and there are times when all I want to do is dig my heels in like a rebellious two-year-old and scream, "NO!"
Unfortunately, the latter is not conducive to living a happy, fulfilled life in which I grow. Unfortunately, I have felt that way a couple times recently.
I desperately want to grow. Because to stop growing, learning, changing, is to die. Physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually. And I don't want to just live, I want to live FULLY.
Therefore, no matter how stiff I feel, I must bend... because there are some changes that will happen no matter what I think - and I refuse to let them be my breaking point.
But that also does not mean that I need to sprint toward every change heading my direction with open arms and a huge grin. It's ok for me to feel disappointed or frustrated or sad... for a little while. Change can feel a lot like loss that we need to grieve and that takes time - and that's ok, and depending on the severity of the change, the amount of time needed to accept it varies.
I did some research on flexibility today. One article said this:
"The most practical way to increase flexibility is to get stronger. It sounds strange but according to Pavel Tsatsouline, author of Relax Into Stretch, 'Typically a stronger muscle does not have to contract as hard as a weaker one to exert the same amount of force and it more willingly relaxes into a stretch.'"
Wow. Funny how something so literal can be taken to a deeper level of thought and still hold true.
The article goes on to say (basically) that the more you stretch, the easier it becomes to stretch further. Obviously. But there's a catch most of us are familiar with - stop doing it for a while and you seize up again. So since we can't always control the frequency with which we are presented with change, how do we remain limber so it won't be so difficult next time?
Strengthen ourselves. To relax more willingly.
For me, that means spending time reading my Bible, hanging out with people who know me and will challenge me when I start talking crazy, and ignoring the "stinkin' thinkin'" that (let's be honest) I'm often challenged by. I can be on the lookout for changes that are sneaking up on me and start assessing them and planning my attack when I see them approaching. I can talk it out with other people who are involved or whom I trust. I can look for the positive aspects of the new, rather than focusing on the things I'll miss of the old. If it affects other people, I can tell them as soon as I know so we can discuss our plan of attack together and they too can have time to prepare.
And then I can take action... which means choosing a direction and bending in it. This may even involve moving out of this tiny little box I like to call my comfort zone.
Can you do yoga with rigor mortis? Not literally. But fortunately even the most rigid of us can bend at least a little before we break.