Ever find yourself making a quick decision under pressure that you realized later was rash and ill-considered? Done this when you felt so off balance and unable to think clearly, to process everything fast enough, or felt under the sway of too much emotion? I suspect that we have all done this. And we all wish to take back such decisions.
It is likely that a regular yoga practice can help you develop the necessary tools to prevent doing this so often and the US Military is also beginning to use meditative techniques to help its elite soldiers develop such tools.
Finding a place from which to make a reasoned judgement.
We’ve been talking this year in classes about the emphasis in Iyengar yoga on balance, precision and care when working with our poses and limbs. The attention to which we pay when placing each muscle and joint when going into a pose, then while in a pose how we look at the the result, absorb what is going on and readjust. Reflect on the results and adjust again; making the adjustments less gross and more internal. This means we need to stay in the poses for more or less lengths of time.
This way of practice not only means we build up some stamina (some poses require strength to maintain), but it also develops a habit of observing before acting. It creates an attitude of open mindedness about thinking about choices and alternatives and a willingness to see what works best and not be so disturbed when something fails.
It also develops a practice of keeping more than one point of action in mind at a time. Doing something with part of a limb then moving on to the next place while maintaining the first and doing something new, then doing both of those and adding a third etc. Learning to focus and concentrate.
I was struck by an article I read this afternoon about the new trend in our military for teaching mindfulness to elite combat troops and negotiators. What they described as the training for the soldiers had a remarkably similar outcome: a quiet focus; concentrating and maintaining focus on many points during moments of high stress using mindful techniques and measured breathing.
Part of the thrust of the article was that some found this incongruous. Mindful, meditative techniques are thought to be peaceful quieting practices, not used in warlike situations. I think they are a perfect fit for people under incredibly stressful situations making life and death decisions in split seconds. They are a perfect fit not only for the people they are in contact with but for those making the decisions and their mental wellbeing.
We can all benefit from finding that quiet place inside that keeps us in a balanced state. In yoga we practice finding it by balancing the body and discover that the mind follows. Then we can intentionally include the mind and find that the body too becomes more at ease. It is a two way street. We just have more access to moving and working and controlling our bodies than our wayward minds, so the body is a more accessible way in to begin
Here is a link to the article about mindfulness and the military. The Latest in Military Stratedy: Mindfulness.