“Balance arises when we enter with mercy and awareness areas that have been withdrawn from in fear and anger. Healing is a rehabilitation of the deserted areas of the mind/body, a living of our whole life.”  Stephen Levine 

Don’t just do something, sit there!”  Anonymous 

Despite the recent explosion of Yoga in our consciousness, our busy lives continue to conspire to keep us harried, over stressed, and out of touch with the value of our inner lives. We are again at the time of year where schedules and commitment often change as summer vacations and outdoor activates wind down and a new, often more complicated rhythm of life is established.

Any healing or stress relieving technique, helpful hints or other helpful revelations that I present in this space will impact you best if they can be implemented within the framework of a life that has space for the seeds of this work to grow. The ground most fertile is cultivated from within and from a growing habit of practices that support the skillful navigation of our inner world in  balance with the  challenges, obligations and joys of our “real” lives.

Motivation for this movement toward balancing our inner and outer lives often comes and goes as habits of meditation and Yoga practices developed. Because of that at times it is helpful to step outside of ourselves and reconnect to the value of this great this work on ourselves; why it is different from other endeavors and has value and offers such possibilities to truly transform the trajectory of our lives.

The following is from a meditation email list I subscribed to many years back (I have since lost track of its source). The author is named Roger, (last name unknown).I find it 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:

  1. That we must always ‘try hard’.
  2. That life is not easy.
  3. That ‘sitting around not doing anything’ is a waste of time.
  4. That the only rest we need is sleep at the end of the day.
  5. That to achieve any kind of skill, we must work hard.

While these beliefs may(or surprisingly, maybe not) 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”

He adds: “So meditation is a process of purification, but it’s not us that are doing the purification.  It’s just the natural process of nature, purifying itself, as it does everywhere around us.  Given stillness, forests regenerate, oceans rejuvenate, and pollution clears.”

The above is good news for our harried selves, long conditioned into a seemingly permanent stress response by fears 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 has to give to allow new insight to take root. If we are ill, in transition, anxious, depressed or seeking some deeper peace or meaning in our lives then I believe this inner shift is generally a good thing. Habits of skillful healing practices offer real possibilities to address and resolves these core concerns.

Our work on ourselves and often permit us to consider alternatives to the five stress inducing beliefs listed above. This can help us begin a responsible and gradual shift to more healthful and, perhaps more productive ways to be in the world. These healing practices, with proper supports of teachers and the fellowship of those traveling along the similar path can help bring us back to balance,  speeding the progress and  integration of our growth,  reduce self-sabotage and further open us to become our best and happiest self.