To Do or Undo?

Jun 4, 2015

Recently while in Shavasana during yoga, I was having a serious “aha” moment. I was telling myself, to let go, breathe, and be still [since that is what you are supposed to be doing in this particular asana].

But, it was so challenging for me, because our yoga instructor, Alex, had said something earlier that made many lightbulbs go off for me. He said, “The undoing is much more difficult than doing.” At that moment, I thought how simple that statement is, yet how layered and deep it is at the same time.

I know my T’ai Chi teacher has said the same thing, to us, in many different ways. But, it was like the stars in the Universe had lined up that exact moment for me to really HEAR it for the first time.

After class, I began to ponder more about undoing, and why it is so challenging as compared to doing… here are some of my insights, let me know if you can relate to any of them.

Let go. One thing I have been working on this past year is working with alignment in my yoga poses. It is far more important to be in correct alignment than how far I get in the actual pose. I remind myself to let go of what I think it should look like; and ask myself, how does it feel?

Relax. I had a student a few weeks ago in my Qigong class say outloud “It’s hard to relax!” As, I was asking her to relax her fingers more and drop her shoulders. It is easier to be moving fast, spinning on that comfortable hamster wheel of life, then to slow down, feel and just BE. [even if that’s only for 60-minutes out of your day] How often each day, do you give yourself permission to just relax?

Really listen. My husband reminded me of this one. I know, I am consistently working on listening with the intent of understanding, instead of thinking of my reply. [practice, practice]

Undoing habits. The ones we intuitively know are not good for us. Need I say more about this one?

The need to be right. My Sifu (teacher) reminds us to ask ourselves, “Do you want to happy, or do you want to right?” [Ask yourself that question, the next time you are in a heated discussion with the one you love, a co-worker, your child, or even a stranger.]

Doing the same thing everyday. Driving to work exactly the same way; dining out at the same restaurant; same workout each week; having similiar discussions, over and over again. Do yourself a favor and undo something this week, maybe drive down a different street on your way home, venture out to a different restaurant [I would suggest local one as compared to a chain]. Undo something—create a new path…

Be spontaneous. Do you have to have your whole week already booked for each night? Allow more white space in your life. [I have gotten a little better at this one, maybe because I’m married and have a child, I used to really fill-up my social calendar.]

Be comfortable in silence. Can you embrace silence, even in the company of others? Undo the idea of having to say something because you are with someone. BE fully engaged with them in the present moment—without words. [Another one my husband reminded me of, so I am taking this one as a personal hint.]

Expectations. Can you go somewhere, be with someone or simply watch a movie without any expectations? Try it, and see how enjoyable being present really can be…

I could probably list a lot more ways to undo, but I think you get the picture. What are you going to undo this week, write it in the comments below and let me know.


  1. As one approaching retirement, slowing down can be a challenge.

    • Dear Alan,
      Slowing down will be different. Because most of us are used to the fast momentum of life. Now, you have a chance to really BE. When we slow down, we find out who really are, spending time as we choose, and we begin again. Congrats Alan, this will be an exciting and explorative time, enjoy!


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