Saturday, August 22, 2009

Don't Lock Me Out!

I was setting up for my yoga class one evening and was over by the stereo on the far wall from the entrance to the room. I looked up and noticed someone at the entrance. I went back to my setup, expecting them to join us for class. Shortly after, I looked up again and noticed the person was still at the door trying to get into the room. I thought the door must have locked somehow and walked over to let them in. In the meantime, they gave up and stomped off down the hall. I tried to call after them but they disappeared around the corner. A few days later I received a call that a member had complained because I locked them out of the room.

I would never lock someone out of the room. At first, I didn't realize they couldn't get in. But - from their view through the other side of the door - it was a very different perspective.

We jump to conclusions very quickly and assume how we see things is the right version of the story. Then, we start acting as if that is really a fact. And it goes on from there. I am just as guilty of those assumptions as the next person. I've heard them referred to as Employee Olympics at the office - "jumping to conclusions"!

Check yourself the next time you start telling yourself a story about a situation. What other explanations could there be for what is or has happened? Give the other person the benefit of the doubt. Check your version of the story with them before you react. I think you will find that things are not always as they seem.

When have you jumped to conclusions? What are your stories? What have you learned from those events?

Friday, August 21, 2009

Bumblebees and Fish

The Pike Syndrome is similar to the Bumblebee Theory in regard to imaginary obstacles we set up for ourselves. In my business classes I utilize the story of the northern pike that was placed in one half of an aquarium with minnows swimming freely and visibly in the other half of the tank - divided by a glass partition. The pike makes numerous unsuccessful attempts to get to the minnows, only succeeded in battering its nose against the glass divider. Slowly the pike “learns” that reaching the minnows is impossible, and seems to resign itself to its fate. When the glass partition is removed, the pike does not attack the minnows, even though they swim right under it's nose! This illustrates the pike syndrome, which is characterized by ignoring differences in situations, assuming complete knowledge, rigid commitment to the past and refusal to consider alternatives among others.

Think about something that you would really like to do but have avoided because of the many obstacles you believe are in your way. How many times have you told yourself that you don't have enough of something to get it done? Write down the obstacles that you think are in your way and determine if they are real or imaginary. You may realize the obstacles are only in your head - like the pike.

The Bumblebee Theory

“Aerodynamically, the bumble bee shouldn’t be able to fly, but the bumble bee doesn’t know it so it goes on flying anyway.” - Mary Kay Ash

The story refuses to die. Insect flight aerodynamics are full of complexities and I (engineer though I am) have never attempted the calculations with angles of attack, vortex shedding and other terms that make some heads spin. I prefer to believe the story!

I occasionally retell the bumblebee story to my yoga students. I try not to tell them that "only advanced people can do this pose", or "you are a beginner so don't try this", etc... I tell them to pay attention to their bodies and the messages they are given. If something doesn't feel right they should back off. They should go slowly into the pose and pay attention to how it feels. But don't start with the mindset that you can't do something - be like the bumblebee.

I tell them - "someday - not - no way!"

What have you been avoiding because you told yourself you couldn't do it before you even tried?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Yoga on the Tee Box

The golf course was beautiful (Magnolia Creek) but my golfing was not! Except - when I took a nice slow long yoga breath in and out before hitting the ball. It seemed to help my drives quite a bit.

Pranayama is loosely defined as life giving breath. We practice different breathing patterns (pranayama) at the start of our yoga sessions and focus on the breath as we work through poses.

Try this pattern - take a deep slow breath in for a count of eight, pause for a few seconds and then exhale out for a count of eight, always breathing in and out through the nose.

Now, think about a situation where you are sometimes a little stressed. Try the breath pattern above before that situation - a presentation or a golf swing or a difficult conversation or responding to an unfocused driver on the road or ...

Let me know how it works for you.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Let the Good Thoughts Roll - Off Your Tongue

I was in line at the grocery store and noticed the woman behind me looking at me. I wondered what was wrong. Had I dropped something? Were my clothes ripped? Was my ice cream melting on the floor? Then to my surprise she said, "I'm sorry for staring but you have the most beautiful legs!" And that was the start of a most glorious day for me.

My favorite yoga instructor always started class with a story. One night she asked us to think about all the positive things we think about other people. Then she asked, "Why don't we let people know what we are thinking"? She encouraged us to tell people - even strangers on the street - those positive thoughts.

I usually do, but made a mental note to be even more aware of it knowing the effect it had on me.

I challenge you to "Let the good thoughts roll off your tongue"! Try it and let me know the results. I look forward to your stories.