“Oftentimes, one strips oneself of passion[meditation}
In order to see the Secret of Life;
Oftentimes, one regards life with passion,
In order to see its manifest results.
These two (the Secret and its manifestations)
Are (in their nature) the same;
They are given different names
When they become manifest.
They may both be called the Cosmic Mystery:
Reaching from the Mystery into the Deeper Mystery
Is the Gate to the Secret of All Life.
From the “Tao te Ching” by Lao Tzu
Don’t just do something, sit there!”
Many are aware and understand that Yoga and meditation have terrific and direct benefits to our well being. Common experiences reported by meditators and Yoga practitioners include feeling of deep physical rest and relaxation, changing mental and emotional perspectives and the more subtle, almost ineffably joyous moments of feeling connected to all of life. There are, therefore, practical benefits and higher aims to meditative experience as we skillfully take that “pause that refreshes”. We heal in ways obvious and unseen, mundane and profound.
Rationalizing taking this time for ourselvesin the face of our practical and emergent needs of our “real” lives can be a real challenge, one that stops us before we start. As a result it tends to be that we seem to expereince frenetic and sometimes overwhelming times of activity with brief transition zones until the next activity. A great question to ask ourselves as we attempt to cope with this is what purpose is that transition time used. It is no secret our society, as a rule has little use for “idleness”. So often we find ourselves leaving the “precious present” to ruminate about the past or endlessly reheasing or planning the future. This of course usually isn’t as fruitful as we imagine and takes us further down the path of distress. The further down the path we go the harder it is to put the brakes on and enjoy any time we do have to relax and restore ourselves.
The wisdom of sages such as Lao Tzu informs us that in the time between our “doings” another, more mysterious aspect of our lives can be known. I believe the most beneficial aspects of Yoga, Yoga therapy and other meditative healing practices may be how they invite us to slow down and look inside for access to this “mystery”. To those who take time to look within toward the direct experience of this inner truth, a very real connection to the source of healing and existence itself is often felt. In Yoga there is a sense that living a truly balanced life involves giving equal respect to both “being” and “doing” polarity of life in ways that address stress and alienation from ourselves at their root cause. We are benefited immeasurably and inexplicably when, to paraphrase Lao Tze’s, we take the time to access the source within. Here we enter the present moment to “strip oneself of passions” and reach from the “Mystery into the Deeper Mystery” and moving through “the Gate to the Secret of All Life”.
Within each Yoga practice approached mindfully, we allow the activity of our poses and movement flow to be interspersed with transition zones of relaxation, meditation and absorption Here the work we have done is claimed by our body and mind. We have “fed” our selves healing experiences and in these pauses we integrate the healing potential inherent in these practices.
When we carry this principle off the Yoga mat into our lives we can intuit that within the “pauses” of life a creative force operates to allow us to receive the feedback the self offers to bring us into balance. In those moments when simply “being” is enough, we begin to relax and hone the capacity to receive intuitive understandings and the unseen possibilities that exist in even the most stressful and dire life situations.