Tag Archives: flexibility

Adaptability

This post originally appeared as the March/April 2014 Community Spotlight on New Connexions.

Caiman AdaptabilityAdaptability, the ability to change to fit the circumstances, flexibility, alterable, pliability, plasticity, malleability, versatility, elasticity, change for the better, to be more useful.

When I went to my yoga class today, the instructor decided to start with a teaching story before our usual exercises of centering, chanting ‘Om’ and deep breathing. He said that he had watched a TV show, a survival series, that had two men stranded on an island in the middle of cayman piranha infested waters. Their mission was to leave the island using only a machete, twine, and fire starter. One man found a large tree trunk, and decided to hollow it out using charcoal and the machete. The other man was skeptical, but he found twigs to sharpen and use as arrows to hunt the piranha for their food and protein source.

They worked like this for 3 days, but did not have quite enough calories for the work they were doing. Cutting into the undergrowth, stripping bark, hollowing a deep log required lots of physical exertion. But then the boat was done and they were excited to think about floating out to safety. They dragged it to the water’s edge. It was quite heavy. The designer of the boat stepped in carefully to take it out and it sank. He stood there, in the muddy waters, his feet in the interior of the submerged dugout. The boat was too heavy to float and carry the two men.

And here is the intriguing part of the story. They did not yell at each other or throttle each other. They did not blame each other. They did not name call or denigrate the other for stupidity, lack of judgment, or the wasted use of man hours. Instead, they each took a deep breath, carried the boat back to shore, and flipped it over. Now their homemade canoe could gather air in the hollowed out seat areas and float. They lashed boughs on either side of the upside down boat, sat on it, and then floated over the cayman and piranha filled waterway. Solution found! Salvation and safety! Yea! Now that was adaptability, that was taking a bad situation, looking for and finding a new solution.

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Exercise: How to Unstick Yourself in the Face of Adversity
and Become Adaptable

So how can we learn the wonderful art of being able to alter our perceptions when we become stymied? Can you do that with your life? Let’s practice. Try following these steps to see if you can flex your perceptions. Adaptability is survival at a very basic level, but we can practice using this trait in our modern daily lives. After all, practice makes it much easier to expand our abilities to become adaptable.

  1. When confronted by something that is not working out for you, first state the problem out loud. Identify it. Then state how you want to solve that problem out loud.
  2. Now step back physically a few paces. This will cue your body to redirect your mindset.
  3. Now restate your problem once more out loud, without any predetermined solution.
  4. Quietly stand, close your eyes, let the different thoughts come through to you, like daydreaming.
  5. Now write down any of the ideas in your journal. This is a personal brain-storm.
  6. Breathe. Take note of any new ideas that have come up for you. If nothing new comes, then try this exercise again. In the meantime you have allowed yourself a few moments of rest to dissipate any over-charged emotions. Keep your new ideas on your paper to reflect on later. You are taking a small new step to change the dynamic that you previously had. You can also find that you could use this approach with other family members to see if together you can come to a new way of solving a problem.

Katherine Boyer, M.A., is an author, speaker, and shamanic practitioner. Her new book, Mending the Net, outlines methods to heal self and family of old dysfunctions by creating new healthy patterns. Please visit www.mendingthenet.com .