What military corners on a well made bed did for my practice, and my day

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Adm. William H. McRaven

Woke up stiff and achy after taking back-to-back Power Flow practices from my mentor/teacher Linda Domino at YogaSoul yesterday. Knowing I had several hours to go before teaching my own class, but past the point of sleeping any longer, I brewed a cup of coffee, burned my favorite incense, and sat cross-legged on the carpet. Beyond that I had no will or drive to do anything at all. Didn’t want to make my bed. Did not want to practice. God no! My hip flexors felt like cinder blocks and getting up off the floor proved challenging enough. And the bed? Just close the door and fuggedaboutit!

But I couldn’t…I called to mind a commencement speech published in the WSJ I read a few months ago by Adm. William H. McRaven, who shared with the graduating class at University of Texas lessons acquired in Basic SEAL training and beyond. Several stood out, but the simplest stuck with me:

  • “If you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day.  It will give you a small sense of pride and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another.”

After opening the door, facing the disheveled heap of sheets and pillows, I went to task. Tugging and folding the corners tight, straightening the comforter, and fluffing the pillows. No one would see my work. And I doubt anyone would care one way or another. But after completing that task, my attitude shifted big time.

  • “By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter.”

I crawled on my mat, slowly stretched into my first Downward Facing Dog, and with the same precision, commitment, and follow through I executed on my bed-making practice, I flowed through what may have just been the most powerful yoga practice of my life. Creaky shoulders, stiff hips and a back that took more time than usual to bend freely took me to a more meaningful place of deep connection. Connection to caring for my physical body (when to nudge forward, when to back off); connection to my emotional state (shifting from apathy toward gratitude and even inspiration); connection to the power of small things…

  • “If you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right.”

I don’t know how the remainder of my day will unfold. But having made my bed, it will surely end better than if I hadn’t.

  • “And, if by chance you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that is made—that you made—and a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better.”

Try it yogis. Make your bed and see what it does for your practice.

*Click here for the full speech: Commencement

 

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