On mental flexibility

Having done plenty of gymnastics in my childhood, I have always been more than averagely flexible. There was a time when I was about 10 when I was flexible enough to frustrate other gymnasts, which was a matter of some pride for me. These days, having spent my entire working life wearing at least 2.5 inches of heel (apart from a brief spell in steel toe-caps) my ham-strings are no more than averagely flexible. The rest of me is still more bendy than most people, but only a little more flexible than your average regular easy-yoga class attendee.

Because of this background of flexibility I am used to thinking of myself as a very flexible person. But this is wildly inaccurate. My mental inflexibility is such that I can more truthfully be described as an inflexible person.

It is because of this inflexibility that, by the time we get married, we will have had a 2.6 year engagement. Although we might justify this to the casual passerby as being for financial reasons, the main reason for me was that I needed time to understand the idea and adjust to it. Despite being as happy as a girl should be to have her husband-to-be propose, the idea was too far for me to quickly bend my mind to so we planned time for me to adjust before the wedding. Now, with less than 6 months to go, I am ready for the final stages of wedding planning and the beginning of marriage because I have had time to adjust my thoughts towards the new, shared, long-term goals.

My mental inflexibility also explains why I do not like surprises. A surprise birthday party, of the kind television characters seem to be presented with on a  regular basis, would be an absolute horror for me because I would have no mental warm-up stretches done and consequently would likely do myself an injury attempting the mental contortion of getting myself into party mode.

I become even more intransigent than normal when I’m under pressure or tired. I get tunnel vision both literally and figuratively and if not carefully handled will oppose any suggestion that would prevent me continuing with the task in hand until it is complete, however unreasonable that is. Anything else is outside the rail-tracks my mind is running on and I cannot turn the train aside without a mental derailing or the above mentioned careful handling by a points-controller and a signal-man. With luck I will come to a controlled stop in an abandoned siding.

So I think what I need is a beginners’ mental yoga class to improve my mental flexibility. One that will begin with an easy, non-challenging mental warm-up, progress through a few more difficult thought-poses and conclude with a nice relaxation exercise. Unfortunately my gym does not seem to offer this class.

I am not sure what beginners’ mental yoga would be like, but Lewis Carrol certainly knew about the advanced levels:

“Alice laughed: “There’s no use trying,” she said; “one can’t believe impossible things.”
“I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was younger, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
Alice in Wonderland.

So if that’s what I’m working towards I think I need to start out by believing slightly improbable things, and, eventually practicing for 30 min. per day, work up to believing the impossible. Unfortunately, I’m struggling to think of anything slightly improbable that I can believe in.

Hmmm. I think I need to find the instructor who tutored the White Queen and get some tips!

Image: Stefano Valle / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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