Most people who practice yoga could care less about being contortionists. Their goal in stretching, bending and twisting is to stay agile, keeping their mind and body in balance.
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No matter how busy you are, you can teach your mind to move, bend and twist, even if you can't touch your toes. There's no way you can throw your back out doing this stuff. And you may be rewarded with a new perspective.
1. See things through your spouse's eyes.
This empathy exercise can also work with a roommate or co-worker. Imagine yourself in his or her shoes. Articulate exactly what this feels like. Ponder how life is different for this person than it is for you. The point is that, even in a spare minute, compassion can be cultivated.
2. Role play.
If you have a dispute, sit at a table together. Assume your opponent's role, making a sincere effort to cover her points effectively. You can do the same exercise with a teenage child. This is a technique designed to make light where there's too much heat, says cognitive therapist Michael Edelstein.
3. Read the opposition.
Let's say you think the New York Times staff editorials are too liberal. That's all the more reason to study them. Identify strong and weak arguments. Do this with one editorial a day, and you will feel yourself growing more limber.
4. Take a deep interest in what your children are learning.
This will not only create quality time for you and your child, but will also refresh your memory on subjects you long ago stashed away in your mental attic.
5. Pry open the mind, gently, that is.
Edelstein suggests that you periodically throughout the day repeat a single mind-opening statement. For example, say, "I am an imperfect person acting imperfectly," or, "Let's see what I can learn from this."
6. Explore unfamiliar subjects.
When you are sitting in your dentist's waiting room, pick up a magazine on hot rods or gardening, as long as the subject is one you normally wouldn't pursue. Read until your name is called. You will gain mental flexibility from even 10 minutes of this type of exploration.
7. Shake up your routine.
In Keep Your Brain Alive, Laurence Katz, Ph.D., says that thinking your way through new routines is the simplest way to stimulate brain cells. Avoid doing things you usually do, or do your usual things in a new order.
8. Learn to play a musical instrument.
We talk about the "Mozart Factor" for children, but music provides the same brain-boosting activity for grownups.
9. See novelty in everything.
Make an effort to observe everything with the eyes of a child. Open your eyes to the wonder of ordinary things. When your mind has awakened to this reality all the time, you will be a Mind Yoga grand master.