I came home from a Yoga class recently in which the instructor urged us to employ “Gentle Activation.” She spoke about how often we expect too much from our bodies, minds, and emotions, causing us to attach feelings of disappointment, rather than acceptance of where we may be at in the moment. Although this was spoken in the context of an yoga, it resonated with me on a more profound level.
In business and our personal lives, there is an emphasis on and reward granted for pushing, striving, grinding, and forging ahead regardless of circumstances.
While I am a massive proponent of grit and tend to navigate life in this way, I am also open to expanding my mind and being curious about better alternatives when something captures my attention.
In class, there were two ways of achieving the stretch, and ultimate goal of accepting the discomfort. Option one was to push through it, and obtain the results while secretly resisting, since the pain was at the forefront of my mind.
Wherever there is a focus on a negative feeling or sensation – there is resistance.
Pushing would have gotten me to where I needed to be in the most efficient manner, possibly earning the praise of the instructor for my ability to flow so quickly into the pose. Similarly, we may find we apply this same method at work or home to produce the most we can, maximizing our results, at any cost.
Then I thought about “Gentle Activation.” The concept was simple – instead of reaching forward, the person could apply resistance by pushing the engaged muscles against one another. For instance, I involved my knee on the ground as if it were being dragged back towards me, yet never changed physical position.
It required focus, breathing, and the patience to let the stretch occur slowly, organically.
Without strain, I was able to achieve the desired result by activating the specific muscles in a much gentler way. It necessitated holding the pose longer, redirecting my focus from the negative onto what was working, and relaxing into it without resistance. It worked despite not being my natural inclination. Imagine the use of such ‘Gentle Activation” in our work and home lives?
Taking the time to let things develop rather than quickly download, engaging in softer communication, and expectations rather than tasking ourselves and others with harsh and unrealistic expectations.
How many times do we come away from projects, meetings, dinners, and family events with a sense of let down and bruised egos due to our needs not being met, or in pursuit of excellence? To be clear, I am not advising that process, goals, and targets within a role or organization be dismissed for a free-for-all where there is no accountability.
On the contrary, “Gentle Activation” requires even more discipline and focus than before.
What I am suggesting is a more harmonious way to engage in life, manage our teams, organizations, families, and ourselves with a more mindful and conscious choice to exhibit patience, focus, and commitment to the realization of the whole, not at the expense of the parts.
You can spend 24 hours a day striving and pushing yourself forward. Yet, the aftermath of the constant, relentless pursuit of goals leaves one feeling drained, overwhelmed, and with possible fallout of great advocates who genuinely want to support you.
Balance being a myth does not mean the only other option is imbalance.
Get in tune and open up to a more realistic and gentler approach towards yourself and those in your sphere of influence. You will be surprised how much more powerfully you can lead others through inspiration, harmony, and acceptance.