Someone, at some time, and at some place this past week shared this word with me. I’m not sure when, where, or in what context, but nevertheless it has been at the forefront of my thoughts, actions, and reflections since then.
You see, for most of my life I have detoured around softness like the plague – as if ‘hard’ was the only way to go…
As in hardcore workouts, or rock hard abs and quads, and hard, lung-busting runs.
Hard, in my mind, resonated with results. With success. With achievement.
And yes, I’ve completed my share of exhausting workouts, top-ten age-group half marathon finishes, and ripply tummy results (when I lay off the animal cookies) from face-grimacing planks and crunches. But as long as hard continued to consume my thoughts and actions, I failed to pause, relish, and celebrate my experiences. Rather, it was time to go even harder the next time around.
This week, by allowing a sense of softness to guide my movement, I’ve had some pretty interesting epiphanies.
In a gravity surfing yoga workshop, insistent reminders by my extraordinary instructor and yogi employer to breathe, work with your lines of energy (as in not going going 100%, but more like 70%) and using leverage from the ground up enabled me to explore life upside down on my hands with an overall feeling of wonder and ease never experienced before. Past experiences upside down frequently left me frustrated and out of breath.
I felt more present during my run this morning than in times past. Taking in the crisp aroma of a morning fireplace, hearing a distant train approach the depot, sharing a smile with a cyclist gliding past, feeling my nose run. All of this because I made the choice to go soft and commit to a run not with expectations of distance or pace, but for mere pleasure. I have no idea how far or fast I ran, and I don’t care.
Waiting in a very lengthy line at Starbucks and engaging in a conversation with the java-craving woman behind me, who – as I learned by softening up and resisting craning my neck toward the busy baristas to see how much longer my wait would be – knew all the regulars and shared insight on the store’s popularity and how the manager frequently got in line to interact with customers and thank them for coming.
There’s something newly comforting to me with this whole notion of softness. It even sounds gentler. Life is hard enough. Go soft next time and see how it feels. I bet it’ll feel pretty darn good.