I was trained as a doer: an architect, exhibit designer and project manager. As part of a team, and often I was the manager of that team, I was hired and paid to manage a group of people to envision and design an experience, exhibit or building. We would design something that would be built of real materials, with the intention of it standing for a long time. At the beginning of every project, an opening date was circled on the calendar, and the clock started ticking.
I was part of some excellent teams. As good as we all were, we also knew there had to be contingencies in the plan because something unexpected WOULD happen. The graphic designer would get pregnant with twins, the system of aluminum selected for the exhibit structure would no longer be available or the painter, while doing one last tiny touch-up, would spill a bucket of paint on the newly installed carpet. Then, that particular carpet would no longer be available, you would be on vacation at a place with no address to send new carpet samples and the opening of the museum would be just days away.
These are not examples. They all happened. It was stressful at the time, but I learned some valuable lessons about intention, trust and ease.
The big question is how is it possible to envision, plan and manage, and then trust the course of a project, and life, to unfold with ease.
You are a responsible person. You need to make things happen. That is your role at work and home. Right? Let go? Trust? Ease? Seriously, Alice? Okay, hear me out. You’ve read this far.
What if you did everything possible and you expected that everything could go as planned, AND you also knew there would absolutely be some unexpected twists and turns?
What if you allowed the idea that these unexpected changes might even shift things, and make things better? (The new carpet was actually nicer than what we had originally picked and it all got installed on time!)
What if you had an attitude of curiosity about how it might all unfold, like going on an adventure, and a sense of trust that no matter what happened you and your team, or family, would figure it out?
What if you trusted it all to work out with ease?
What if you could flow with all that happened, suspend judgment as to what was good or bad, and even enjoy the journey?
Hmmm…does that feel like a stretch for you?
I continue to scour the books on neuroscience and the research in the fields of mindfulness, positive psychology and a whole slew of other related topics. We are in an exciting period where technology has given us better measuring devices, including fMRIs and a test called a SPECT scan. More and more mind body practices, like meditation and yoga, are being studied and documented as to what specific brain activity is taking place with the different practices. I am blown away by what I am reading and beginning to understanding. (I’ll be putting together my Best of 2017 book list soon!)
Yet, I am a skeptic. I must test for myself and see how these practices work and feel in my life. What I am reading, and confirming for myself over and over again, is that the body and mind are a 2-way street. They are both continually shaping the other in ways we previously had never imagined.
How you think shapes your body and how you move and hold your body shapes your mind.
The mind and body thrive under certain conditions. When we are young we are like a puppy, innocent and soft. Puppies need to walk and run at regular intervals and learn some basic practices as they grow so they can live with you and be social, and civil, with other animals and humans. With these solid daily habits, you can have a wonderful, furry friend for life.
You are clearly not a puppy or a dog. But what if you too need practices as you grow in your life? What if these practices built your physical strength AND your neurological muscles and capacity to live with intention and ease. I am here to share the best news yet. This is exactly what is happening with the practice of yoga.
Let’s take a look at the pose Warrior II. Even the name implies strength. Most often we think of building strength through repetition and movement, lifting weights or running. Those certainly build strength but you can also build strength in stillness.
What I love the most about Warrior II is how stillness, holding the pose, and softening into it, breathing long and deep is what builds the strength and power of my body and mind.
Not pushing or forcing. Standing in one position, perfectly still. With courage, breath and trust.
Even just standing in Warrior II for 1-3 minutes, you can feel your legs, wake up and calm your mind, wrestle with the discomfort and build the confidence to know you can handle it. These are all powerful tools to be used toward that life of intention, trust and ease.
There is one other thing the research is confirming. It’s not just “doing the pose.” One of my yoga teachers used to call it, “phoning it in,” when you go through the movements, but your attention was somewhere else. It won’t work. If your body is doing one thing and your mind is not on board, it is not worth the effort.
You have to connect them, body and mind. Yoga is this yoking of these two with presence. If you are open to the possibilities, get mind and body on board, you open the gate for real changes. It is how your brain works. It is up to you.
On many of my early projects, I tried to control everything. If I anticipated every possible hiccup, I thought it would all run smoothly. It never worked that way. I just kept running faster and faster. The snowball chasing me kept getting bigger and bigger. Finally, it rolled over me. I was absolutely exhausted and burned out. I had to surrender; I had nothing left.
Then I was ready to try a new way? Are you?
Warrior II…are you ready to dig in?
Warrior II has many health benefits; building strength in the legs, opening the hips and nice heart opening to name just a few. I have a few ways for you to explore Warrior II.
Here is a 5-minute video practice with Adriene that will walk you through how to do it and give you some nice options to build from.
Want a bit more of a challenge? Join one of my favorite yoga teachers, David Magone, a Midwestern guy in Boston. I had practiced using his videos for a while and loved his metaphors and building of poses. Join this 27-minute practice and just work where you are.