Let it breathe ...

Posted: Friday 26th June 2020

One of the guilty secrets of being a middle aged parent is taking the opportunity to pilfer the forbidden fruits of the cultural property of youth. Unfortunately, my children are getting wise to my misdemeanours and my nearly teenage daughter now tells me straight if I have strayed into trainers that are too platform or sweatshirts that are too neon. But something that I’ve successfully snuck past my children’s attention so far is a love of Stormzy. Admittedly, only the mainstream hits, but hey! One Stormzy masterpiece ‘Do Better’ has been on my mind lately. The song says to ‘do better’ you have to ‘let it breathe’.

With Stormzy on my mind, I find myself in my yoga class (probably wearing a t-shirt that’s too neon). My yoga teacher is trying to get through to us. He is suggesting some preposterous contortion that exasperates my poor middle aged body. He adds insult to injury with statements like ‘use 50% of your effort’ and ‘less muscle, more breath.’

Use 50% of your effort.

Do less to do more.

Do better, let it breathe.

What are these guys doing to me here?!

Shift again to a new scene. Me at work trying to be useful to my team in a reflective practice session. At MyST we frequently use family therapist Tom Andersen’s seminal reflecting team method in our talking together. One subgroup talks whilst the other listens, then it switches around.  When I’m in the talking group, I have to admit to being one of those people who is often full of things to say. I enjoy working my mind’s muscle. Yet it turns out that it is in the listening group that I perhaps get my best workout.

In one such reflecting team discussion lately, my colleagues and I formed into two sub groups and planned to alternate between speaking and listening with one another. It was a fortuitous day I thought, as my group was chosen to speak first. However, as the time keeper called time, I was crestfallen that I’d only been able to lever in half of what I’d wanted to say. Nevertheless, it was time to shut up and become the listening group.

The other group took the ball and ran with it to all kinds of places that I’d never have gone. Listening to them blew me away with new ideas about our practice. And at last, it dawned on me: Use 50% of your effort, then let it breathe. Allow others to bring the other 50%. This way, you might get to places that you’ll never reach pushing your own muscle alone.

Jen & Jael

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