On Flexibility

Things that are flexible don’t break.
People who are flexible don’t break down.

A few summers ago I started playing volleyball- one of my favorite sports. I’d played a lot earlier in life, but not much in the past 8 years or so. It started as recreational, but by Fall a friend and I had organized a competitive indoor league. I had been playing for about 6 months at that point without any physical issues, but during my first competitive game I popped a rib out of place. Anyone who’s had that happen knows how fun it is (if you haven’t, I assure you it’s awful). The thing is, I didn’t do anything that game that was unusual. I didn’t twist my body in the wrong way or collide with someone. I didn’t forget to stretch or push myself too hard. Nothing was different that day from any other day- except this time it was competitive. There were stakes: I wanted to win.

It took some reflection (post-chiropractic adjustment) to understand what had happened for me that day. The introduction of competitive energy had created an emotional state for me that was inflexible. There was a specific performance and outcome that I was attached to, which left no room for anything else. And I didn’t enjoy myself as much that day. I don’t remember if my team won or lost, but I do remember being grouchy with myself while on the court (and then in quite a bit of pain for a few days after).

The importance of flexibility

There are two distinct ways in which we use the word flexibility. For a physical object, flexibility is the quality of bending easily without breaking. To be emotionally flexible is to have the willingness to adapt, change or compromise. But are they really that distinct? Or are they really mirrors of each other? When we are emotionally and mentally inflexible, our bodies follow suit. When we hold onto, or are unwilling to let go of, something (a perspective, an opinion, a result, or being “right”), our bodies do the same and become become tight, immovable, and rigid. Perhaps if we are willing to embrace the flow of life, to be pliable and be open to the possibilities outside of our current perspective, we can become able to adapt both emotionally and physically to our surroundings, our circumstances, and even the relationships in our lives. Perhaps we can become more flexible.

Where can you begin to notice potential resistance in your life, and consider the mirrored physical sensation or condition it creates in your body? Or where in your body are you “holding on” that may be connected to an emotional need that you fear letting go of? Opening up your perspective can be both emotionally and physically liberating and freeing. Is there anywhere in your life where being more flexible could lead to less resistance? To a greater sense of ease? To more harmony, pleasure or freedom? Or maybe to a healthier, more flexible body?

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