Flexibility of Mind

It’s been a while since I am learning and practicing Yoga and I often wondered why we really need to focus not just on flexibility of the body but also on the flexibility of the mind.

Flexibility means the ability to change to suit new conditions or situations. We can infer that as the ability to think about things in new or different way. When it comes to physical flexibility we can easily observe that in any sportsperson. As they have to bend their bodies in different directions as per the demand. Or in day
to day life, if you can easility bend down to tie your shoe laces or pick up things from floor etc shows you are physically flexible.

But where do we see flexibility of the mind and why it is important for the growth?

मन एव मनष्ुयाणां कारणं बन्धमोक्षयोः । बन्धाय विषयासक्तं मक्ु त्यैनिर्विषयं र्वि स्मतमृ ्॥

mana eva manuṣyāṇāṃ kāraṇaṃ bandhamokṣayoḥ । bandhāya viṣayāsaktaṃ
muktyai nirviṣayaṃ smṛtam ॥

As the mind so the person. Bondage or liberation are in your own mind. If you feel bound, you are bound. If you feel liberated, you are liberated. Things outside neither bind nor liberate you; only your attitude toward them does that.
Now, to understand whether we are bonded or liberated, we should be open minded. Which essentially means you must have flexibility of mind here it described as attitude.

Lets talk about where we can observe flexibility of mind. For example You are a chef, and your friend told you that there is a faster and better way to cook potato. Now the immediate though could be that, I am the chef I know
better. But if you have flexible mind, you would listen to your friend’s idea, you will try it and if you find it useful you will continue to use it.

Say due to nature of work, you keep shifting to new places. Yes, its a tedious task. You can either be frustrated or accept this shift. By accepting, you are open to learning and experiencing new places, things and ideas.

IT professional always keeps finding new ways to automate processes and also how they can save time on manual work. This way they can be more productive, can work on other projects or do some other activity like gyming/playing sport etc.
When do you see that your mind is not flexible?
1. When you have set ideas – you think that your idea is the best idea. Your
way of working is best. And there is no better way.
2. When you want everyone to follow you. Because you think that is best. For
example, chef thinks he has the best ideas for cooking dish and hence never
tried new things.
3. When you want your child to study in a certain way e.g. you think by
reading 10 times he will remember stuff but not realizing that he won’t
understand the applicability of it. Like doing addition in particular way, Kid
might got better way to do it.
4. When you think you are following the best diet practice or
5. When you think your Yoga practice is best or
6. When you think the life goals should be what you think it should be or
7. When you think, how people must dress or
8. When you think, that your way is best way to warship or
9. When you when, your way is best way to fast or
10.When you think, people should follow a particula routine only
11.When you down upon someone without knowing their personality or
achievements

The list can go on.

Now the problem with not having flexible mind is multifold but biggest one is that it won’t allow you to progress. If you have set mindset about everything, there is no room for change and hence no progress.
Having flexible mind is not easy, sometimes you have to keep aside your ego, for example to learn from a Kid.
Lets say, you are a working woman. You and your mother in law cooks a vegetable differently. Everytime she cooks, even though you like the taste you dint like the way she cooks. Now to solve this, there are only two choices 1. Either you cook all the time which seems not feasible as you are working 2. You learn to appreciate her efforts and accept that everyone wants to do work with their understanding and their own style. Imagine if someone forces you to change your style of working, will you like it and do it? Also, if there are 5 people in the house you can’t make everyone do things you want them to do. Or can satisfy 5 other people with their expectations?

Now the set mindset is not limited to cooking, it can be in any field. For example, you think that, people must save for XYZ amount for future if they dont want their retirement will be difficult. But there is someone who does not want to save and want to see the world before he or she retires as that gives them happiness. None of the approach is wrong as they find pleasure in different things.

A lot of times I heard people saying you must chant only this or that Mantra. Thats the best. But not everyone feels connected with what you believe in. Not everyone is seeking the same thing as you do. Some are in search of wealth, others might be in search of knowledge. No one is right or wrong. We all have freedom to do whatever we want to achieve in life. We all have something to learn from each other.

Understanding that is flexibility.

Preevi
Yoga Practitioner,
Student at Swasti Yoga Center

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