Sunday, August 1, 2010

Finding Opportunity

If opportunity doesn't knock, build a door. ~Milton Berle

Opportunity is around us all the time even if we do not see it. Sometimes it appears as a gift that comes to us effortlessly. Other times it comes in the form of an obstacle that can be transformed into opportunity.

A brilliant example of this kind of transformation is the story of Tom Sawyer who was given the chore to whitewash his aunt's fence one summer day. At first Tom was melancholy at the thought of having to spend a Saturday painting instead of playing with his friends. But as he began to paint and his friends passed by he pretended to be so absorbed in painting that it piqued the curiosity of his friends. By pretending to like what he was doing and telling his friends that it took great skill to whitewash a fence properly, he began to trade his friend's treasures for a turn at whitewashing the fence. Soon the fence was painted by his friends and Tom had become a wealthy lad in the process.

Rocks in rivers can be seen as dangerous obstacles but for the seasoned boater they create opportunities to rest in an eddy behind the rock or boof off the edge of the rock and get airborne for a second. Rocks are what form the character of the river. If you keep looking at a rock that you don't want to hit, then you will probably end up hitting the rock. But if you want to avoid the rock, then your focus needs to be on where you want to go. If you view the rock as something friendly to play with on the river, that is where your focus should be. The same is true of any obstacle we want to avoid or transform into something positive.

Yoga gives us the opportunity to fully be with our breath. Our minds are so occupied with our daily lives that we rarely focus on our breath. In fact, we typically breath with only 10 percent of our total lung capacity. When we focus on deep full breathing we increase our oxygen supply, decrease toxins in our bodies, increase our circulation and improve our mental clarity. Many places in our bodies tend to be tight - like hamstrings, hips and shoulders. Although this may seem like a limitation to yoga, it can be an incredible opportunity to open those tight areas and understand more about those muscles and joints. Yoga teaches us to expand our viewpoints and to listen to and respect our bodies. It helps us to understand how the body and mind are deeply connected and affect each other on many levels.

Life is often what we make of our current situation. Why do some people see opportunities where others see few options? Introspection and sensitivity to others can strengthen our ability to expand our perceptions. Determination, open-mindedness and the desire to learn more about this amazing world we live in, will clear our vision revealing opportunities that allow us to blossom into ourselves.

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