Have you ever played with a rubber band? In stretching the rubber band you feel the tension between its resistance to snap back versus expanding. This subtle and playful exercise gives us a view of the act of stretching.
Can you recall going through a series of stretches before some form of physical activity? If you have a consistent workout routine, then stretching is typically part of your warm-up and cool down. If you practice yoga, stretching is a core component. If you play sports, stretching is necessary before the game or practice. Stretching is a physical and symbolic ritual to practice.
Just like in physical activities, life also stretches us. Examples include: welcoming a new edition to your family, moving to a new city, making the leap to begin something new, or transitioning through life’s cycles. In essence, the act of stretching or being stretched is essential for expansion, and it will not be pain-free.
- Mind: When you stretch mentally, you become more flexible and resilient. You then go to new places and try new things; this offers perspective. These moments can feel uncomfortable, but if you are aware of the stretch, you will be able to endure the tension. The more often you draw your awareness to this feeling, the easier it becomes to appreciate the stretch moments.
- Body: Not stretching causes the body to tighten and even become rigid. This can cause a limited range of motion and movement. Given the connectedness between our mind, body, and spirit, this rigidity can show up in our thinking and habits. If you feel your body getting tense, take a moment to perform a few simple stretches.
- Spirit: Like your mind and body, your heart can also be stretched. Maybe in the form of losing a loved one, ending a relationship, or feeling challenged by life’s trials. These emotional stretches are rigorous and painful, yet serve as teachers. These emotions are signals to your spirit that a shift is required. When you feel emotional discomfort be curious. Ask, why do I feel stretched? Find ways to honor yourself and extract the learning.
Take time to notice and value your life’s stretches. They are reminders that expansion is within reach. So, I ask what is your stretching practice? How are you being stretched?