The Fine Art of FlexibilityJune 12, 2018
Practicing the fine art of flexibility in your body, your mind, and your life will allow you to stretch beyond your fears and limitations and towards your goals and dreams. Let’s talk about cultivating and finding strength in flexibility.
“Stay committed to your decisions, but stay flexible in your approach.” ~ Tony Robbins
“The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.” ~ Albert Einstein
“Nothing is softer or more flexible than water, yet nothing can resist it.” ~ Lao Tzu
Find Strength in Flexibility
Webster defines flexibility as “the quality of bending easily without breaking; willingness to change or compromise.” I describe flexibility as a “fine art” because I believe true flexibility requires an artful, delicate balance of the mind and body.
I was recently talking about flexibility with a friend who has a black belt in the martial art of Aikido. In Aikido, flexibility is much more than the ability to touch your toes or do a split. It’s about flexibility of the mind, the ability to quickly perceive and respond to each moment, particularly when things are changing. Instead of being on autopilot, you learn to adjust your response based on what will be most helpful in a given situation.
Perhaps you fear being flexible will make you look wishy-washy or uncertain — leading you to take a rigid stance against life’s inevitable curveballs. Inflexible behavior and reactions are often the result of trying to control too much, from circumstances and outcomes to other people. But, it’s not only impossible to control the world around you — it’s also exhausting and futile.
So how do you develop the flexibility to respond actively and positively to change? One word: Stretch! The more you stretch yourself — taking on new challenges, learning new skills, and opening yourself to new perspectives — the more flexible you’ll become. And just like in the body, being flexible in life can protect you from pain and injury and increase your resilience.
Life’s ups and downs often feel smoother when you are flexible, allowing things to flow rather than trying to force outcomes. Develop greater flexibility by opening yourself up to possibilities and allowing your mind to remain childlike and curious. Flexibility in thought and action is a skill you can practice and improve upon — and with flexibility comes strength, freedom, peace, and connection.
Tips to Become More Flexible
- Let go of assumptions. Mental rigidity often flows from life bumping up against how you think something “should” be. Release “shoulds” and “musts” from your vocabulary to become more open to new ideas and possibilities.
- Take it slow. Flexibility increases incrementally over time. Pushing too hard or too soon can result in injury and set you back. Instead, gently push your boundaries a little at a time. Mental flexing — like physical flexing — can be uncomfortable at first, but in time the discomfort will ease, resulting in new-found elasticity and growth.
- Consider multiple perspectives. A common couple’s therapy exercise practices describing a topic of conflict from different perspectives: your own, your partner’s, and that of a neutral observer. This helps you be more open to others’ viewpoints.
- Pursue creative endeavors. Creative pursuits, especially ones that are new or challenging, help develop mental elasticity. Try painting, dance, or creative writing as a way to think outside the box and see the world in a different light.
- Practice physical flexibility. When your body feels stiff, tight, or “locked up,” your mind may be as well. Similarly, when your body is loose and relaxed, your mind will often follow. A quick morning stretching routine, or ending the day with a simple yoga practice, can help you feel more open, agile, and relaxed.
At Leap Forward Coaching our process will help you achieve your goals and build a joyful and fulfilled life!