“As spring overcomes the cold,
And autumn overcomes the heat,
So calm and quiet overcome the world.”(1)
Lao Tzu from the Tao Te Ching: Chapter 45 from Deep Spirits.com 

This is a very unique time in the state of our country and the world we live in. It seems the new normal that we need to accept to move forward changes day to day. Coping with that change can deplete us and robs us of our ability to effectively live and fulfill our destiny.  Ongoing inner and outer struggle unceasingly agita
tes our body and mind. To cope, we turn  seek solutions, some healthy and self-supporting, some more self destructive and damaging.

The accumulated physical and mental impact of this is significant. It has a very real impact on our overall health and well being. The National Institute of Mental Health offers a clear description the impact chronic stress can have on our physical, as well as mental wellbeing stating:

“… Because the source of long-term stress is more constant than acute stress, the body never receives a clear signal to return to normal functioning. With chronic stress, those same lifesaving reactions in the body can disturb the immune, digestive, cardiovascular, sleep, and reproductive systems. Some people may experience mainly digestive symptoms, while others may have headaches, sleeplessness, sadness, anger, or irritability.” 

Over time, continued strain on your body from stress may contribute to serious health problems, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and other illnesses, including mental disorders such as depression or anxiety. (2)

The practices of Yoga and meditation allow us to re-inhabit our bodies and re-discover the full range of physical and psychological experience that stress responses of tension, pain, armoring and numbing may have stolen from us.

The element in Yoga and meditative arts that set it apart from other forms of physical culture into Yoga is its emphaisis on increased ability of conscious awareness within the practices. This is sometimes referred to as “mindfulness” or “choice-less” awareness. We are invited to detach from our habitual and often stressful reactions that  reinforce conditioned reactive habits of mind and body. Perhaps this is the essence of what Lao Tzu was so poetically describing here:

“As spring overcomes the cold,
And autumn overcomes the heat,
So calm and quiet overcome the world.”(3)
Lao Tzu from the Tao Te Ching: Chapter 45

Yoga Therapy pioneer Joseph Lepage, in his self-published Yoga Therapy Manual routines some of the deeper mechanisms by which an awareness driven Yoga practice can inform our self-care and stimulate healing below:

1.     Relieving stress created muscular tension by awareness and acknowledgement of the role of stress in creating discomfort and pain within. This is accentuated in Yoga posture and aware somatic movement as deeper stress patterns and buried physically stored tensions and emotions are brought to the light of awareness and toward the release of their hold on the body/mind.

2.     By including the full range of pleasure and pain to our awareness we skillfully acknowledge and resolve the patterns of resistance and fears that magnify pain and transform it to suffering.

3.    By allowing the release of the patterns of muscular or other types of pain that has remained in neuro-muscular memory after the original cause has gone

4.  Bringing an understanding of the physical, energetic and emotional patterns at the root of energetic blocks in the body/mind that can often be the precursors of physical and mental dis-ease.

5.     Open an array of resources that weren’t available before. Awareness can open us to and allow us to skillfully utilize the ultimate innate healing energy, Prana. According to eastern thought working with energy is as important as working with its physical counterpart in the body to resolve disease, create and sustain true wellness

6.    According to Yoga, awareness is intelligence and therefore infinite and not subject to the physical laws of entropy and aging. Therefore, healing and transformation that may seem miraculous is possible and attainable through application of the principles and practices of higher consciousness.

7.     Restore the peace that comes from living simply in the “now” as the fantasies, ruminations and memory of past and future events take a back seat to the direct experience of the moment. (4)

From the perspective of Yoga, within our challenges are messages from the body/mind to be listened to, not to be ignored or feared. On the deepest level, according to Yoga, physical or mental pain signifies our movement away from the integration of our mental and physical selves with the deepest part of us. I encourage you to utilize the practice of Yoga to help you rise above your present way of being and bring on the insights and actions that support your ongoing wellness and help you more fully experience and enjoy all you do.

1, 3.) Tao Te Ching: Chapter 45, Lao Tau, from Deep Spirits.com 

2.) 5 Things You Should Know About Stress,  

4.) adapted from Integrative Yoga Therapy Manual by Joseph Lepage, self-published, 1994