Flexibility Keeps You from Getting ‘Bent Out of Shape’

A medicine wheel ceremony

Photo by Norbert Braun on Unsplash

Stuck at Chicago’s airport due to high winds, this is where I would have been last weekend. Instead, I found myself in the good company of friends at a medicine wheel ceremony.

Here’s what happened ….

After spending half a day at the airport, and being deeply moved to get to where I was going, my inclination to persist had me leaning toward the following option: To get on the next flight with a layover where the storm was in hopes of getting to my final destination at 2 AM (storm depending).

Fortunately, at this fork in the road, I was reminded of something I’d recently shared with my students:

The tree gets to tell the wind to stop blowing, but if she persists long enough she’ll likely become exhausted, and break.

So, I redirected my affinity for perseverance to my desire to develop the skill of flexibility. To be clear, by flexibility, I’m referring to a state of mind similar to the one experienced by the physical body. The journey from stiffness to suppleness requires that we meet what is and allow a breath in there to dissolve any constriction found.

Precisely because what was happening was not what I wanted, I was being called to become even more present. So, I committed to simply paying attention to the signs around me, which included meeting my mental tightness in as neutral a way as I could manage.

In other words, I redirected my tendency to persist from “ I’ve got to fly today” to “Like a bamboo tree, let me remain centered on the inside and willing to yield on the outside.”

Not that a reward should come beyond the opportunity for practice itself, but in this case, it did. Voila! I found myself in a space so sacred and safe that I got to ask and receive healing for someone I dearly love. After this, I went to sleep on my bed and flew the next morning with a smooth layover taking me to my destination on time.

So, next time you catch yourself at that fork in the road where one way tells you: “Persist, go on, you show them!” and the other gently reminds you that “the prize is in yielding to what is”, experiment with favoring “the other”.

And, if you’re still here, like me, you have earned this great mantra:

Flexibility keeps you from getting bent out of shape*.

*In hearing what had transpired on my end, Sue, one of the friends at the circle, shared these wise words she’d once heard from a woman who adopted and raised an astronomical number of boys.