“Don’t just do something, sit there.” – Sylvia Boorstein–i Buddhist teacher and author (1)
Despite the recent explosion of the disciplines of Yoga, meditation, and the allied healing arts into our consciousness, our busy lives continue to conspire to keep us harried, over stressed, and out of touch with the value of having a strong connection to our inner lives. In some way the digital age, with its flood of information and 24/7 connection the world, may be our greatest source of ongoing stress. It can also be the one that often seems most inescapable.
A simple google search regarding the role of stress (2) in disease is truly eye opening. It follows that the increasing difficulty we have unplugging from all this stimulus and finding at least some moments of peace maybe our greatest threat to our overall health and well being. Our nervous systems are always on high alert and this hyper vigilance and its physical and mental consequences have for so many become the new normal.
As we enter this Spring season of renewal we can take another opportunity to take control of our lives in this regard, letting go at times of all the external noise and taking time to reconnect ourselves with the joy and ease that is at our center. Even the folks at Harvard have come around to the possibilities of Yoga and Mediation as potential solutions to the problems of stress. (3)
As inviting and important as all this is, there is a lot about letting go and that isn’t always joyful or easy at first blush. Resistances and difficulty arise because of how it conflicts with what we believe to be necessary to survive and succeed in material life. That can be scary. Skillful Yoga and meditation practice reminds us again again that it is the letting go that makes way toward alignment with those larger process and systems of which we are a part, rather than constantly “pushing the river” by contenting against them. Insights and the real physical and mental changes gained through our work on ourselves invite us to explore the possibility that we can live the life we wish with increasing and abiding moment of joy and ease and flow.
The following is from a meditation email list I subscribed to a several years ago (I have since lost track of it’s source). The author is named Roger, (last name unknown). It is an elegant and powerful exposition of one perspective on the value of Yoga and meditation to our lives.
“Meditation is easy – it is the easiest thing in the world for any creature to do, but, paradoxically, this ease is what makes it so hard for us westerners to do. We find it very hard to do simple things, because we have been taught a number of things from a very early age that make it hard for us to relax and accept simplicity. Some of these things we’ve been taught are:
- That we must always ‘try hard’.
- That life is not easy.
- That ‘sitting around not doing anything’ is a waste of time.
- That the only rest we need is sleep at the end of the day.
- That to achieve any kind of skill, we must work hard.”.
He adds: “While these beliefs may be very true in the materialistic world in which we live, in meditation they are not true at all. In the act of meditation, we do not look for any achievement, we do not use effort to try hard, and we are happy to sit, apparently doing nothing, for relatively long periods of time. But we are not doing nothing at all – we are doing a very profound thing. What we are doing is giving our mind and body back to the universal processes of nature, and allowing them to settle, find equilibrium, and to heal in their own way.”.
The above is good news for our harried selves. Even so to our minds, long conditioned by fears and stress, real and imagined, insights attained through our work on ourselves can appear impersonal, simplistic, frightening, useless or somehow threatening to our existing values and beliefs. Of course, in some way transforming our lives is all of that. Something must give to allow new insight to take root.
Beginning or recommitting to a Yoga and meditation practice can be the start to this transformation. Yoga Meditation, and the Healing arts can help access, address, and resolve challenges they arise and support healthy evolutionary change through insights gained through their practice. As the insights are integrated we are empowered to make the changes we need to make to help us better enjoy our lives even with all the real world stress life brings.
(1): From Lions Roar.com; https://www.lionsroar.com/sylvia-boorstein-on-the-meaning-of-dont-just-do-something-sit-there/
(2): From google search: https://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&as_sdt=0,7&as_vis=1&q=role+of+stressful+life+diseases%22
(3): From Harvard Haelth Publishing; https://www.health.harvard.edu/press_releases/Yoga-can-blunt-harmful-effects-of-stress