Choosing To Yield


Yield, such an amazing word. We don't often think about this word unless we are driving and even then there is some apprehension in the action of yielding. I suppose this could be because there is an element of uncertainty, of vulnerability. And yet Yield can be such an interesting word - soft, generous, intentional, purposeful - while ultimately taking you where you want to go, though perhaps a little slower.

 So yield in our driving, in our striving? Not only can we yield in our actions but also in our bodies. Softening the tensions in my shoulder blades, quads, between my eyes. So many places that tend to grip in Anticipation, as if putting the brakes on. Yield is a generous gesture that is inviting flow, not braking, and when approached from a mindset of cooperation can be a graceful movement forward.

 Augusta Moore, my Feldenkrais teacher, asks us to consider yielding in our cells. On a cellular level to soften, to be receptive and curious, to stop our habitual responses for just a minute and see how our bodies might respond in a different way than what might be predicted. To encourage this deeper yield it is helpful to be in a safe environment, reflective, mindful state.

Vidyamala Burch, the founder of Breathworks, has a meditative practice of leaning into your difficult situation as if leaning the weightiness of the situation onto a bale of hay, noticing how the bale yields a little under your weight, softens the hardness of resistance. I find this helpful in letting my imagination understand what it means to yield on a cellular level - because really who knows how to do that?? It's something worthwhile learning and experimenting with.

Just for a moment consider "What part of your body wants to yield?" Is there something in your mental, physical, or emotional being that would benefit from slowing down, stepping back, taking a deep breath, and yielding to the sweetness of the moment? What is calling you to pause and soften? Could it be a warm ray of sunlight on your face, a tight sore back that lets out a little complaint each time you move, or a sense of overwhelm that feels just so darn uncomfortable. The signs are all around us and we get to choose our approach - screeching brakes, distracted confusion, OR gently, with full intention, leaning into the situation and yielding into the flow.

Often we find ourselves stressed out in overwhelm and the yield signs seem to be screaming at us to pay attention. But wait I don't have time to soften, what about my responsibilities? My To Do list? The many expectations I carry on my shoulders? So it seems easier to ignore those yield signs, go into overdrive and before you know it - Crash !! Lots of drama and disappointment to go around. Stopped action and possibly some collateral damage.

The roller coaster of surge and crash with little yielding might be an exciting life for some or satisfying for a short period of time and then sooner or later the accumulative effect on the body says no more. Think about your car, or your spine, or your gut - just how many crashes can they go through before they no longer function in the ways you need them to? The mind too grows weary of constantly pushing upstream with little respite, sheer will power only goes so far and how pleasant is that?

 So where in your life is there the opportunity to experience the Yield?  It could be in yoga class, during a work discussion, figuring out with your partner how to manage a difficult situation, or even right now - check in, is there anywhere you are holding tension or notice tightness in your body? Let your breath find and soften this place, imagining your muscles and skin giving in a little to the weight of gravity.

I think that sometimes we worry "If I slow down I might just stop, or worse I might fail." And I would like to suggest that if you give it a try you might just find yourself right in the middle of that easy flow of life you've been dreaming about.


Letting Go - What Are your Options?

The season is changing and spring brings many wonderful topics to mind, but honestly I need to write about what is happening for me in real time and that is healing.  Healing from the insertion of a new ceramic hip - wowza the things they can do these days!

And wrapped into all of this is the word pain and opening to the vulnerability of feeling pain - emotional, physical, material.  I have realized for years that my body tightens as a natural response to pain and intellectually I know this is not all that helpful. It cuts down on circulation, prohibits full range of movement, blocks instead of opens, for starters.

Last week I had a chance to zero in and experience this so clearly for myself. My body was swollen everywhere so I bravely scheduled a lymphatic massage with Dusa, a gentle healer from my past.  With very gentle pressure in all the right places and in all of the right directions I mentally went with her as she released built up pressure and blockages.  I had to focus in on what was most painful and then.... I had to let it go!  I had to turn toward the pain on a cellular level and imagine it draining away.  I was not passive or avoidant, I was an active partner in healing my own body.

The letting go felt like the floodgates crashing open as far as releasing so much fear and allowing so much creative movement.  And it was not just physical. I was aware of letting go of expectations - why didn't they reach out to me, how come they don't seem to understand?  Could I open up my understanding of their capacity, of their individual styles and not expect others to do it my way.  Were these emotional blockages mine? Theirs? Belonging to both of us more likely as receiving or letting in, is deeply connected to letting go.  And irritability, another reaction I watched replay over and over again, as I desperately wanted something different to be my experience. Aware of this response is my first step in being able to choose to instead, let it go.

The great irony is that by holding on so tightly we actually bring what we fear or avoid that much closer. There is no chance that the thing- physical, emotional, material - could possibly move on while being gripped so tightly. The only choice is that it becomes a weighty burden to carry around, possibly for years?  If not a cognizant burden then a visceral confusion, an inner conflict that tangles the senses and there is not a lot of free flow in that!

So... If you were wondering what is that image at the top of the page, or if all of these words around pain, vulnerability, irritability, are just not doing it for you, there is the very physical option of literally letting go of some of your material burdens.  A very tangible, real experience that gives a hint of what more is possible.  Decluttering the stuff you've been clinging to so tightly, not really sure why, is about to get easier with the new app letgo, kind of a cross between Craigslist and Instagram, helps open those floodgates and you too can experience the freedom of letting go - why not give it a try? 

Healing comes in many possibilities.