When Life Hurts: Good or Bad Stretch?
Not long ago, I was at a crossroads in my life, and as often happens at crossroads, I felt a bit of pain. Down one of four potential roads lay strange but exciting newness. Down another, loss, but with possibility. A third would have required potentially painful growth. A fourth, complete uncertainty. None would be easy. All would require a stretch, and with stretching, we tend to hurt.
When something starts to hurt, we have a tendency to pull back. After all, hurt is something to avoid, right? But what about taking a yoga class? Donít you find yourself in poses that are, at once, completely liberating but hurt like the dickens? I know I do. Itís tempting to stretch too far- to let your ego get caught up in ďsuccess,Ē while you push yourself beyond safe limits and wind up with a torn hamstring. So how do you know where that limit lies? Whatís the difference between good stretch and bad stretch?
Iíve found that my body tends to know. Thereís a stretch that feels invigorating. Itís a challenge, and stepping up to the plate feels fantastic when you achieve it. By stretching gently, you slowly surrender more deeply into the pose, freeing your mind and unleashing your spirit. But thereís another type of stretch that just feels wrong. You tweak something, feel pain biting into you, and get a sense of dread about whatís happening. One is to be celebrated. The other is best avoided.
How can you tell the difference? You have to listen to your body, mind, and spirit. When youíre stretching, you know the difference between a good stretch and a bad one. Itís when we ignore the messages that suffering happens.
Resting in Childís Pose
In my life, three of the possible roads felt like good stretches. One felt† like a bad one. But I kept standing at the crossroads for a while, resting, rejuvenating, growing, and getting clarity about what lies ahead. I came out of that stretching yoga pose and rested into childís pose until I felt strong enough, limber enough, to keep stretching. And thatís okay.
Stretching Out Of Our Comfort Zones
Maybe youíre finding that being vulnerable on the forum is stretching you. Maybe another person says something to you that stings and stretches you. Maybe you donít feel met in just the way you might wish. Maybe you feel overstretched, like youíve put too much of yourself out there. You might wonder if this is a bad stretch. And it could be- for you. Or it could be that liberating stretch that comes just before you are set free. Only you can know the difference, and you must honor where you are in your process.
It all comes back to being true to where you are. There is no right and wrong. Just like there is no right or wrong road at my intersection. My body just needs to feel which stretch feels like growth and which one feels like a pulled muscle.
What about you? What stretches you?