I recently joined the ranks of, oh, everyone else in the world (or so it feels) and started doing yoga.
Hot yoga to be specific. It’s hard but I’m addicted. I love the way it makes me feel, love the reminders to breathe, and love stretching my body in new ways.
In one of my earliest classes, as we were doing a (for me, at least) particularly difficult pose, the instructor said, “You’re asking your body to do a lot. What can you soften?” After a pause, during which I thought, Yeah right, she said, “Try relaxing your face.” I didn’t think anything on my body could be less tense, but when I intentionally smoothed out my forehead, I felt that bit of energy flow into the rest of my body. It worked.
And of course, while you’re not supposed to be thinking during yoga (and usually I can’t), I immediately thought of several ways this concept could apply to other parts of my life. (To reassure you, I was immediately yanked back into the practice, and didn’t start thinking about softening again until I was on the way home.)
The thing is, I’m someone who craves routine. When I decide to add something into my life—more exercise, more reading, meditation, a morning walk—I want to do that thing every day forever and ever without fail at the same time like clockwork thankyouverymuch. (Well, every working day, anyway. I like my variety on the weekends and holidays and such.) Doing things as part of a routine helps free up my concentration for something else. But when I add enough things to that list, it can seem as though everything must be happening all at once—that I must hold tension in every part of my life to keep it all going—and I feel like there’s nothing I can let go of without dropping the whole act.
So I resisted this idea of softening. But as I kept returning to it (thinking in layers instead of writing in layers), I couldn't forget how that little bit of energy was released when I relaxed my forehead, and I realized that sometimes that morning walk, time with a book, or even daily chore takes away from my ability to do other things well rather than contributes to it.
Kathleen (of Braid Creative) wrote an amazing post about balance versus alignment, and this idea of softening feels similar to me. When you walk on a tightrope, your arms aren’t always straight out beside you. Sometimes you lean one way or another, tipping the balance toward one thing or another, and that’s fine. It’s what keeps you from falling off the tightrope altogether.
Sometimes sleep, client work, a good friend or family member, or a sick cat demands the attention I would normally have given other things. Sometimes that energy is needed elsewhere. And you know what? That’s ok. It’s better to give into that pull than to fall off the tightrope.
So the question now turns to you: What can you soften to allow that energy to flow elsewhere? What is calling out for more attention—or less?
P.S. I know this may not seem like it relates specifically to content, which is what I usually talk about. But the thing is, I think creating content is all part of the tightrope walk. If you’re focusing on building strong content, you may need to soften other things in your life (or even the expectations you place on that content).