Thursday, January 21, 2010

Stretching Beyond Limitations

My women’s softball team won a decisive victory over the Valle de Oro Valley Girls yesterday. Woo Hoo! In the five years that we have played this team I think we only beat them one time.

After the game we share soft drinks and socialize with the other team. I talked to one of the players and remarked on her speed running the bases. Now mind you, this is a woman who is probably at least 60 years old. We shared tips on how to improve our skills and stay healthy.

This is particularly important to me as I was playing with an aching hamstring. Of course the most important advice to prevent this painful malady (a pulled muscle) is to stretch. I don’t like to stretch. I’ve always enjoyed sports, but I have never been able to touch my toes without bending my knees. Describing my body as inflexible is a gross understatement. I go through the motions of this important warm up (our team always stretches before our games as well as our practices) but I don’t like it. Never have. But now I will put more effort into the process. There’s nothing like a little painful reality to change a habit.

I can’t help but think how stretching before a game, or any time, is a good analogy for life. In order to be your best, you need to prepare. This goes for mental, as well as physical, exercise.

However, most of us have such busy lives that it is easy to forgo the little things that don’t seem 100% necessary for the immediate result we are trying to achieve. In my lifetime, the word “instant” became synonymous with “better.”

But is it?

We want “instant” solutions for our health problems, instant solutions from our leaders, instant weight loss and the list goes on and on. The reality is most of our problems (and that includes our country’s) did not happen over night. Solutions will not happen overnight either.

It’s like my aching hamstring. If I want the muscle to perform well, I need to stretch it. After all, I sit in front of a computer most of the day writing. The most activity it gets is when I scratch it, or take a break to eat or use the bathroom. But when I go out to play ball, I think I’m just going to get out there and run to first base like I did when I was 12 years old. Well, my body laughed at my arrogance and now I have a physical reminder that I need to prepare myself more before I go out and play.

However, stretching doesn’t always apply to physical activity. I recently asked myself, “How often do I resort to the status quo in my thinking, or in other activities in my daily life? Am I extending my reach by pursuing my dreams, expanding my network of friends, acquiring more knowledge, or developing my compassion? Or am I satisfied to go along with the status quo?"

I recently read an article on dialogue by Buddhist Philosopher, Daisaku Ikeda. He recently wrote this on the topic of dialogue in the January 15, 2010 issue of the World Tribune:

“Dialogue is not simply two people asserting their opinions, nor is it just a simple exchange of words. Through conversing, we can gain a shared insight into each other’s point of view and intent. It is also a process of creating something of new and positive value.”

In our book, Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within, there is a chapter that discusses the importance of dialogue. For many of us, dialogue is a bit of a stretch from how we usually communicate. However, communicating in our old patterns will not bring us the fresh results that most of us want in our relationships and interactions with others.

So think about stretching, both physically, emotionally and when communicating. It will take some time to develop new habits and methods, but happier results are sure to follow. Or, you can ignore my advice and follow my bad example of running around and pulling a muscle. Whether it’s sports or life, why not try a little stretching? You may surprise yourself with what you gain. And all you have to lose is the misery of having (or being) a pain in the backside.

As Featured On EzineArticles

No comments: