As coaches, people often come to us with an expectation to give them more things to say NO to.
Yet, they’ve already said “No” to so many. From gluten and dairy, to high heels and couches, from air travel to social media…we all build ourselves the scaffolds to keep us safe.
We build our own “biodome”, a predictable environment where we keep the “bad” out and hope that’s enough. Our culture’s hyper-focus on vilifying ingredients, activities, environments and groups of people ( think gluten, sitting, large cities, raw vegans) adds new rules and attitudes daily, thickening the walls of our dome, till we can no longer see out and others can no longer see in.
Yet, what you feel like and perform like, and more than that – what you experience life like, is a lot more about what you say “Yes” to than what you say “No” to. See, a “No” doesn’t affect you. A “Yes” is what comes inside your “biodome” – what creates your environment, external and internal – and ultimately, your life.
In the wise words of Annie Dillard:
“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing.”
Here are four key “Yes” actions that help our clients and students thrive.
We hope they inspire you to watch for your own inner conversations and rules, and ask yourself if they contribute to the life you want. Or on the contrary, have created business, rigidity, limitations and patterns that have taken you farther from how you want to live.
YES to experience overhead knowledge
How will this new plan work?
Where can I learn more about this method?
Can you guarantee me that if I do this 3 times a week my pain will go away?
Can I read one more book on the feet before we start?
We live in a world where information is everything. We want to know before we do. We want to research before we try.
Yet, on the path of restoring natural movement or building a nourishing diet, or balancing a nervous system that’s stuck in a pattern, your body is the laboratory. You are the ultimate experiment. You have to wake up and meet the mat, get out and walk the hills, chew and swallow hundreds of lunches, before you really know and figure out your way.
Before you can trust an impulse and rebuild your inner compass system, you have to say yes to experience over being told what something will do for you.
You have to volunteer yourself to not knowing. Saying yes to experience is the best gift we can give our students. And we walk alongside them, and scream at the same stuff they do, and celebrate the same stuff they do. This Yes is the first.
YES to not doing
We are often so focused on adding elements to our plan. One more supplement, one more special ingredient, an extra meditation class on the weekend, extra looooong. Just drive there. You got this. In fact some of our group coaching clients are amazed that we don’t overwork them.
Wu wei isn’t woo-woo
Try “wu wei”. Literally “inexertion” or “not-doing”. Our bodies are an expressive complex system. All systems need downtime. In a world where we can be busy all the time, the concept of not doing or activity through inaction sounds insane. Yet, without downtime, all our efforts can go into a Pandora’s-like-box of good intentions. When you choose to rest, and just be, your system remembers how to organize, how to be rhythmical, and you stop believing that the reason your body works at all is that you are in charge. Yes, you can be a wise guide, but you are not in charge.
This is the second yes.
YES to impulse
Once the other two yes are at play, you will become a better listener. So you will be able to say yes to impulse. Hungry? Eat. Sleepy? Rest. Wired or sluggish? Move.
Do not try to force your system. You are in a relationship with your body. You can’t bio-hack a marriage, or a child-father relationship. You talking to your daughter is not a “hack”, it’s connection that is biologically wired, just like the bottom-up and top-down processes in your body.
When you start to hear the impulses to move, to get out, to get off the couch, to free your feet, to call a friend, to cook a warm meal – then, you follow.
We watch carefully in our students when the impulse following starts to arise. We encourage them to toss the structured exercise plans we wrote, we encourage them to play with food and ingredients and travel and explore and take themselves where they want to go. This is the emergence of a more organic process now, one that we can relax with. The third yes.
YES to pleasure
Decades of being immersed in diet and wellness culture may have some convinced that dieting, moving or developing a mindfulness practice is a necessary evil, a torture the disciplined come to enjoy. That being in shape is for the well-rounded masochist. Pro athletes will even openly talk about pain and how their pain thresholds is what allowed them to be great.
“No pleasure, no gain”
Yet, humans, we are pleasure-seeking beings. And not just us – even primitive ancestors like lizards find a nice warm rock. And look at primate cousins who love hammocks and mattresses. Comfort and pleasure are not a vice, but a biological necessity. Taking in what is pleasurable allows for growth, expansion, capacity, feeling safe in the present moment and being available for connection.
It helps us feel calm, settled, open to intimacy. We can even say that pleasure affects everything from our nervous system and hormonal state to our relationships, and forms the core of our resiliency.
So we support our students to do things they enjoy, cook meals they enjoy, find teachers and groups they enjoy being with.
Does that mean you don’t do anything hard? No! But it means finding the appropriate challenge so overcoming it can be pleasurable, not painful. And if you stick with pleasure, you will see it has the funny ability to increase your pain threshold. This is the fourth yes.
Like what you learn with us here? Come over and like our Facebook page so we can chat about things we have in common and we can share how we navigate this complex and incredible world in the healthiest happiest way we can.
Want to be a part of a group of people who are doing self-care this new way? Check out our 365 community and become a member.