The Devil is in the Details
“The Devil is in the Details” – Problems or difficulties that result from the unforeseen nature of unexamined details. A catch hidden in the details.
Many moons ago, a chiropractor (who will remain anonymous) was trying to adjust my back and did something to my right sacroiliac joint. (To be called “SI joint” from here on out. If you don’t know what the SI joint is, click here.) When the chiropractor did the adjustment, it was very painful and I instantly felt a burning sensation. I went to a yoga class right after and it burned through out class. My SI joint has never been the same.
Over the years, it would get worse and then better. But over the past 3 months, it was just getting worse. I would avoid twists and that would help, but it just wasn’t going away. I finally decided I needed professional help.
I saw a Physical Therapist who assessed the situation. It was decided that, along with avoiding twists, I should avoid all back extension poses until my lower back muscles released. I was also to work on building strength in my Transverse Abdominal muscles. (It is a never-ending quest to strengthen these magical muscles. If you aren’t sure what the transverse abdominal muscles are, click here). Finally, I was to strengthen the gluteus medius muscles, which are basically muscles in the buttocks.
Focusing on these details has totally changed my practice. Having an injury forces you be present with your body during practice like nothing else. First, you are constantly listening to your body for any sign of pain that indicates you should back away from whatever pose you are doing. Second, constantly focusing on the abdominal muscles is exhausting. If you don’t believe me, go to a gentle class and constantly focus on contracting your abs.
However, doing this has brought a whole new view of my practice. I know that focusing on these details will not only heal my injury, but will further my practice in ways I never would have imagined. From the outside it looks like I’ve declined in my practice, going back to basic poses and avoiding the higher level classes. However, on the inside I’m struggling. Class is exhausting!
Hence, I have learned the devil is in the details. I first realized the truth of this phrase during a speech from an Iron Man coach. He said training by just simply running a lot, swimming a lot, and biking a lot isn’t going to get you to the finish line. In fact, it will probably end in an injury. It is fine tuning your performance that makes a difference. He said you need to look at the details of how you run, how you swim, how you bike. Then fine tune those details. When you fine tune, your performance improves. And you stay safe. For example, when you are swimming, you may be moving your arm in a weird way which would rub the shoulder joint wrong and eventually injure the shoulder. Or maybe you are landing your feet wrong while running which could cause a knee injury. Details matter. Not only in exercise, but in other aspects of life.
My husband brushes his teeth every day, twice a day. He also flosses at least once a day, usually more. And he uses anti-cavity mouth wash. Yet, he kept getting little cavities here and there. I use an electric toothbrush and he uses and old school one. He noticed that I brushed a lot longer than he did because my electronic toothbrush remained on for 2 minutes. So, he decided to brush longer. He now counts as he brushes. This is a very serious practice for him. I try not to talk to him while he is brushing his teeth so he can keep his concentration and not lose count. BUT, he has stopped having little cavities. The Devil is in the Details.
I’ve started using this phrase as a sort of secret weapon. Whenever I’m working on something and the result isn’t what I wanted, I instantly think, “What details am I missing?” Focusing on the details has not only changed my outlook on life, it has made me become more present. When you focus on the details, you have to be present. Dinner is a great example. A lot of people eat dinner in front of the TV. When you do this, you are distracting yourself from the smell, taste and texture of your food. You are ignoring the details. Next thing you know, your food is gone and did you really enjoy it? Focusing on the details during a yoga practice makes you present in your body. Focusing on the details of your breath while you are meditating makes you more present and helps you get deeper into your meditation. Paying attention to details while driving brings you more awareness of what is around you. And, not just gazing at a sunset, but really looking at the details of the sunset – the way the colors melt into each other, the way the air smells at the moment – brings you deeper into the present moment, and therefore, deeper into the enjoyment of the moment.
So, now I’ve let you in on my secret weapon. Look around at the areas of your life that aren’t quite working. Ask yourself if there are some details you are missing. Look at your day-to-day life and ask yourself what you could be enjoying more if you were more present with the details. The devil is in the details.
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