A Tiny Stretch; a Big Impact
As part of my post-surgical recovery process, I've been going to physical therapy twice a week. After lying flat on my back for so long in the hospital, my muscles had atrophied. I tried to get back into shape on my own, working out at the YMCA, but to no avail. My neck, knee and hips just refused to cooperate.
The therapist did an assessment of my condition and then prescribed a few exercises for me to do every day. One of those exercises was a simple neck stretch. I was supposed to lie on my back and nod my head gently, feeling a slight pull at the back of my throat. 10 times, twice a day. I was skeptical that such a tiny stretch could possibly do any good. But within just a few days, the stiffness in my neck had disappeared.
I reported my progress to the therapist on my next visit. I also asked her for more exercises. I had improved so much in such a short time, I wanted more of it. "I need a new challenge," I said. The therapist explained that the work we were doing was not like other exercising. It was not about setting a goal to achieve. She explained that what we were doing was designed to "strengthen the core." For the neck stretch, the purpose was to simply "be aware" of that muscle at the base of my neck which had lost its strength.
Strengthening Our Core
The therapist's comments led me to think about the impact of very small "stretches," not only for our physical bodies, but also for our spirits. I asked myself, "What is the tiny stretch I need to do in my spiritual life that will strengthen my core? What do I need to practice being aware of?"
My first thought was "Self-Compassion." As author Paul Gilbert reminds us, it is very difficult to be compassionate with others when we are not compassionate with ourselves.
What is a tiny stretch you could make to strengthen your emotional or spiritual core?
What is a spiritual muscle you have that you need to become more aware of?
What life crisis did you experience that resulted in "forgetting" about that spiritual muscle? Envision that muscle moving from a state of atrophy back to full strength and vitality.