Perhaps, especially if you know me and my affinity for moving my body, you might have expected a different sort of list than what follows.
Instead, what follows are a few of my go-to practices for instant strength—just maybe a different kind of strength than was anticipated.
I had an internal revelation recently, after a day of dealing with a scoliosis flare up.
My not-perfectly-straight spine has been a consistent teaching tool for me in my life, that a tight muscle is not a strong muscle, and that we can only be our strongest when we let go and find ease and suppleness to match.
A muscle can not work to its capacity if it’s stuck in a state of contraction, like my back was this past week. Only after the muscle lets down, rests, and releases can we work and exercise it for its maximum ability for strength. My heart feels like this too.
On a parallel level of analogy, I had this “aha” moment, that I am most able to love both myself and others if I remember to not harden and contract inwardly, even when life hurts. Finding this range of motion within myself, to continue extending kindness, warmth and generosity, especially when it feels like the world isn’t ubiquitously giving it back, takes practice, but it’s worth it.
2. Ask for help.
When my back continued to become problematic, I knew that I would need some help with my children so that I could schedule with my massage therapist. I asked my husband, the guy with the seriously full work schedule, to help me. He did. It wasn’t easy for him, and I’ll admit to feeling guilty for having to ask him to take time away from work in the middle of a Monday, that I know he really didn’t have—but I needed help, and I needed him.
I felt so much better, on so many levels, after asking for—and receiving—help.
Time and time again, when I feel depleted emotionally and physically, I do what often seems counter-intuitive: I give.
This is not the same as over-extending ourselves. However, gifting to those around me, without expectations of getting something in return, repeatedly reminds me of how much I really do have to offer.
Additionally, giving to others provides me, the giver, with energy that I didn’t even know I had—I show myself, through offering my love and capabilities, that I have so much more to give than I was acknowledging.
Because, ultimately, I’m strongest when I’m resilient, when I tap into my endurance, and when I remain open and ready for more tests to both.