(This is not a post on how to improve your flexibility in yoga…)
It’s going to be about flexibility though.
I want us all to loosen up.
Remember in mid January when we were all fantasizing about summer and how FUN it would be? How wild, free, and light everything was going to feel in about 6 months?
Well, we’re here now, and the heat is UP. But for many there seems to be a lot more tension in the air than there should be.
Hmm… wasn’t summer supposed to be about fun? How did we get away from that without even realizing?
Ask yourself, truthfully, how much of summer have you embraced so far; have you dived into it yet?
Many of us are delaying it a little. Maybe you’re waiting until you’re physically ON the beach… in perfect bikini shape… out of ‘work-mode’… and then you’ll consider it time to jump into summer.
Look around – it’s happening right NOW. Life. Sun. Light. Music. Flavors. Dancing.
There is nothing to “work our way towards.” Why are so many of us waiting for something that’s right in front of us?!
Fun is the most natural state for us. But we are humans, and ever so vain. So in order to challenge our vanity, we believe we need to ‘earn’ fun through first experiencing difficulty.
Let’s loosen up to fun.
Because pleasure is a profound psychological need.
It’s still summer even though you have responsibilities, work, school etc. I promise you, your responsibilities and your fun can coexist without a struggle.
Summer energy is INTENSE. Ayurveda teaches us that the pitta energy is high, and there is a trend towards EXCESS. It’s a hot, fiery, active time, and we can have a tendency to go too far.
No need to repress it. We don’t need to spend our days trying to lower this intensity with force and fight against it by adding excess structure just because there’s more pleasure. That control creates more tension, and that’s when we crack.
“Notice that the stiffest tree is most easily cracked, while the bamboo or willow survives by bending with the wind.” – Bruce Lee
We need to start trusting that this summer can give us more than just hangovers, ice-cream comas, missed deadlines, and an abandoned gym routine.
We need to start trusting in the radical possibilities of pleasure.
And that’s where flexibility comes in.
Once we are able to really say YES to fun, in whatever shape or form, we drop the need to avoid it with a ‘restriction’ or abuse it with excess. When we are able to accept pleasure without guilt, then there’s that feeling of summer that we all crave; that deep and wild freedom; and its within us. Not in a photo, on a postcard, or in a memory. It’s in our whole being at that moment and there is no need to escape it.
Flexibility is about allowing both structure and openness to happen together. It’s the grace that happens when we allow life to flow through us when we play AND when we work.
In this presence, we don’t spoil the moment by worrying about work on Monday. When we go to work, let’s work. But when we have a moment to play, (and we all have a lot more of those moments than we like to admit), then let’s be there, in the playing.
The practice of Buddhism teaches us there is no place for using effort. Our bodies will naturally know when it’s time to rest. Our intelligence will know when it’s time to step back and ground ourselves, or get back to work. Because being in the present moment rejuvenates our intuition, and we live by instinct, not impulse.
Flexibility begins with the mind, not the body. But there are some physical things you can practice to help get your mind and spirit to show up for summer too:
1. Ground down, and get dirty.
Literally, feel the earth! Get outside, into nature, and feel your bare feet on the ground. Many research studies have shown that direct contact with the earth allows us to obtain an abundant supply of the earth’s electrons that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects on our bodies. When our bodies get back to the same electronic potential as the earth, we can experience physiological and electrophysiological changes that promote optimum health and immunity. Get dirty, get sandy and get back to nature.
Get away from your phone and back into the moment. As terrifying as an hour without the iPhone in hand may seem, it is one of the bravest and most liberating acts we can do today. We need our phones as tools to get things done, but when it’s time to play, technology is the ultimate obstacle to connecting to the present moment. Try dancing to your favorite performers rather than snap-chatting them, and soaking in everything delicious about the sun, the beach, and time with your friends. Be there, fully – even if the internet doesn’t get the memo!
3. Change the plan.
Even if you have to go to work this summer, there are so many ways to practice flexibility. If that means just having an outdoor picnic on your lunch break, getting to work by foot, or skipping your morning spin class to lay in bed as the sun rises – if you wouldn’t normally do it, do it now. Allowing more luxurious and spontaneous moments into your day will actually make you more productive rather than distracted. If you’re already vacationing, release restrictions where they’re not needed. Why limit how much of summer you can experience?! Say yes to trying new and not-necessarily-dietetic exotic foods, midnight swims, long siestas and waking up with no other plan than to feel alive and turned on by every wild thing you do.
Summer is screaming at us to enjoy the light, the longer days and the firey active energy. Jump into it now, and give yourself full permission to show up for every minute of the season. Let yourself flow with the natural rhythm of things.
Take a risk to let summer happen to you!
“If you love life, dont waste time, for time is what life is made up of.” – Bruce Lee