If Wounded Peacock (a very impressive yoga move for those who aren’t familiar) is your jam, then hooray for you. But, I’m talking about flexible thinking.
I once worked with a man who had a precise 4-step routine to leave his house. If anything interrupted his routine, like someone asking him a question, he would need to start from the beginning. He couldn’t sequence the actions in any different way. He wasn’t O.C.D, it was simply that he had a single strategy that offered no options for flexibility.
In brain injury, we call that cognitive rigidity. But even without a brain injury we can have tendencies to become rigid and inflexible. Flexibility is a about resilience, spontaneity, readiness. An effortless transition to a new thought, the ability to see things from different perspectives. It is the single most important skill in negotiation.
Flexibility isn’t just about reacting, it’s about anticipating and creating. Flexibility is a power trait I desire more. “Bring on the flexibility,” I chant in my morning mediation. And the universe responds….
Suddenly every appointment I have wants to change, shift the time. Arrangements are continually being negotiated and reconfigured. My daily routine, once predictable and uh, “routine” takes on a lava-lampish morphing. I admit this pokes at me, irritates me, ruffles my smoothly stroked feathers
But isn’t that the point?
The universe laughs, be thoughtful of what you wish. You see you can’t develop flexibility unless you have opportunities to practice it. Not so ironically, I know this from yoga. Yoga is called a practice, because everyday we stretch ourselves into unnatural positions. My yoga teachers might disagree, but seriously how often do I pop into Wounded Peacock in my everyday life?
Maybe just the whining sound…
So here it is:
When I decide to develop more patience, I will get opportunity after frustrating opportunity to PRACTICE.
I will spend more time in lines at the grocery store and in traffic.
I will wait on hold in an endless phone tree and then be disconnected.
I will order something and the wrong thing will arrive requiring an extra 6 weeks for delivery.
If it’s generosity I want to grow, I should jump at the chance to fork over the cash when everyone forgets their wallets at lunch. More happy occasions to buy presents for babies, birthdays, graduations and weddings will abound. I will receive more bills and more donation requests.
There is nothing WRONG here—It is the answer to my request!
In the same way muscles develop— by applying a load of stress greater than what my muscles are used to, developing a new behavior requires “a load” of practice. Small, but persistent steps and consistent practice.
How could flexibly seeing something from a different perspective enhance your relationship or help you solve a problem? What if you were more likely to take a risk and do something as scary as telling someone you loved her first? What if you were willing to apply for a job you dreamed about, but thought you weren’t qualified for?
If all this “practice” feels like another rigid rule, why not try something fun? How’s that for flexible thinking? I took improv classes that loosened me up, giving me permission to be terrible and stiff and keep going, till I opened up a vein of spontaneity.
Flexibility is the trait of great leaders, not because they’re malleable, bending to what’s popular, but because they have more tools and capacity to solve problems, tolerate ambiguity and uncertainty, and switch readily between practical and non-practical thinking. They simply don’t break under stress. Flexibility is a feature of strength, both structurally and metaphorically. It’s what keeps buildings standing in earthquakes and hurricanes. Engineers call it ductility, but the concept is the same, it’s the opposite of rigidity.
How do I know I am practicing flexibility? Because just today, my plans unraveled causing me to switch two different events that got cancelled and sold out altering the entire day’s schedule. Next, I heard about a friend in financial crisis and paused to consider my judgment from a different perspective, and finally, I looked at Wounded Peacock and searched for the baby steps that lead to achieving this epic posture.
Child’s pose is the first step to mastery of Wounded Peacock.
Will I ever get to a full on Wounded Peacock?
Maybe, but for today I will rest in this pose knowing it’s one more step in flexibility.
Make Belief ~Make Belief Affirmation: The more flexibly I think the more expansive I am.