Breathing Through Resistance

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In disciplines such as yoga and Makka-Ho, which require stretching, we are often guided to breathe into the places of resistance, tension and tightness.

This is a gentler and more respectful means of meeting our limitations and bringing in patience without forcing the stretch, which can cause damage.

The other day, for no apparent reason other than that I was stretching at the time, I was thinking about this wisdom for use in regular life.

Having a moment to step outside the perspective of what was right in front of me, and looking at my life from a broader place, I could see areas that were open and spacious and flowing freely, and other areas that were stuck ... maybe even triggering discomfort when I thought about them.

But I knew from already testing this, that pushing against those areas only created more pain, more contraction and discomfort, and that 'doing' anything, or at least doing the things that I could only see possible in that moment, was not helpful.

So, I thought about approaching a stuck place like a difficult stretch. Just breathing into it. Accepting it as it is for now ... not necessarily letting it go, but when my mind would settle on it again throughout the day, as it always would, just breathe into it and let go of the irresistible need to push against it.

Somehow seeing a stuck problem as a tight hamstring helped lessen the magnitude and urgency of the situation, and reminded me that it's just something I have to work on slowly and with forgiveness to myself for getting into that state.

Are there areas of your life that you can reinterpret as tightness? Perhaps you can try stretching as you think about the stuck places, while you make the associations, and play with the difference between trying to push against the resistance, or just relaxing and breathing into it.

In the next post, I'll share an interesting way of gaining more flexibility by tapping into the proprioceptive system.