I categorize posts here in my little corner of the Internet as one of four possible intention types: yoga, parenting, relationship or faith. This post really belongs in each category. I’m pursuing this truth on my mat, as a parent, with my Lord and in all of my relationships.
It seems a little late to be picking my one word for the year. But here we are, over seven weeks in, and I can’t escape this one word. Everywhere I turn, I see a need for more of it. So, let it be known, 2013 is going to be the year of softness for Jen Hoffman.
On my yoga mat, Savasana, or relaxation, is the ultimate practice of softness. To aid in my ability to surrender and release, I use props. I turn off the lights. I make sure the room is comfortably warm and cozy. I play relaxing music. I create an environment perfectly suited to rest.
I’m a fierce advocate for this daily ritual of complete and total softness. The idyllic conditions of formal relaxation teach me how to soften. When I abide in rest that I remain awake to observe, I can’t help but discover softness. I forge neurological pathways. I gain a physical, mental and emotional understanding of softness that is lost in our modern, multitasking world.
But, there is another kind of softness I believe we all need to be equally adept at practicing – a softness that abides in the presence of hardness. A softness that can be found in the midst of chaos.
I’ve said it in this space many times before – the harder something is, the more it requires my softness. This truth has been informing my practice of asana for years. When I discover physical tension in a yoga pose, I actively soften my breath, I relax my muscles, I welcome ease. On my mat, when something is hard, I call upon my ability to soften. But, I’m increasingly aware that softness is an appropriate response to much of the hardness I encounter off the mat as well.
I thought a great deal about this during my pregnancy with LM. As I envisioned my labor and delivery, I expected the hard around and within me. But, I was also confident in my own ability to soften in the midst of that hard.
When his birth day came, every hard thing I encountered – from a pushy OB to the very real work of contractions – was a reminder for me to soften. And soften I did. I was laser focused on it. My softening transformed the hard.
But, so often, my natural response to hardness is hardness. If my three-and-half-year-old says or does a “hard” thing, I have to work diligently to override the programming in my brain that says, “Yell back!” When I have a miscommunication with my beloved, everything in me hardens. When I’m faced with the brokenness of this world, it is so easy to question the Love of my Father.
Maybe it’s a defense mechanism I picked up along life’s way. I don’t know, but it isn’t serving me well. I want to be the softness that works to transform the hard of this world.
2013…The year I develop my softness reflex. Where there is hard, let me be soft.