Psalm 4

In a tight spot, you gave me room to expand. (4:2)

Feeling squeezed? Feeling constricted? Having trouble breathing, coping or keeping up with change? When you feel under pressure, you may make unwise decisions. You might make decisions out of fear or panic. You might fail to make a decision when one is needed … a non-decision is also a decision.

The essential root meaning of the Hebrew word for Egypt, Mitzrayim, is the word tzar, a place of narrowness. Mitzrayim is what happens when you live your life in a narrow box, unable or unwilling to try new things or seriously examine the way you live your life. When you repeat the same mistakes over and over again or continually find yourself experiencing the same frustrations, chances are you could do something about it but are stuck in a rut of stimulus and response.

The opposite of Mitzrayim is expansiveness. The first behavior of a meditation or yoga practice is to learn how to breathe, to expand your lungs and body. Rather than being a slave to a stimulus, you learn how to expand yourself and take time to evaluate why your instinct is to jump to a particular response. What’s going on inside your head? What positive or negative experiences have you had in the past that are influencing the way you make decisions? Next, examine the stimulus again, and allow yourself to objectively decide on a wise response. Move from narrowness, in which your responses are predetermined, to expansiveness, in which you have the room to choose a response from a wide range of options.

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