How We Stretch Ourselves

I've been thinking about how I hold myself. 

Like many of us, the muscles in my chest, shoulders, neck have become hard and inflexible. All those hours of looking down, down, down at emails, articles, documents, often in the name of productivity.

Our bodies can pay quite a price for us to be productive, can't they? 

There are a few stretches I do. They all aim at the same thing: look up, open up, bring those muscles back to their natural, loose state. 

After lifting my arms this way, dropping my neck that way, rolling my shoulders, I hold myself with more grace. Actually, I hold myself like I'm worthy of being held with care. 

This has implications beyond the flesh and bone. Because how we hold ourselves can shape how we think of ourselves. 

Our bodies aren't just vehicles to move through the world in. They can also be subtle, powerful sculptors of our mood. 

If I hold myself with hardness and inflexibility, I can easily be snappy, unforgiving, controlling towards myself. 

If I stretch, though, I hold myself with more grace and care, and I am better able to treat myself with kindness, generosity, mercy. 

It doesn't stop there, though. How we hold ourselves shapes how we hold others, too. I am more likely to be open and unconstrained with you if I am open and unconstrained in my physical being.  

Stretching is often thought of as reaching, taking us to a new, improved place. But this stretching, I think, is returning us to our muscles' and our minds' natural, loose state. A state that productivity and the many pressures to do, do, do can contort us out of. 

We are worthy of holding ourselves with grace and care. Others are worthy of being held with grace and care. And our world is worthy of being looked up at and opened up to.

Let's see if we can stretch ourselves back to all that. 

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