FOCUS OF THE WEEK: STRESS MANAGEMENT II (DEC 9-13)

sinking

I think it is safe to say that life is more difficult than not, don’t you think? It can be like a swirling cyclone sometimes, but the one thing we need to remind ourselves is that it is only so on the surface. Just as on the surface of the ocean there are waves, storms, noise, at the bottom there is a still center, quiet and soundless, where life is more relaxed. Just look at how fish move slowly through water and how algae leisurely dance unhurried.

When you are more identified with the surface only, with the outer, the mundane, the superficial, you become the easiest of preys to anxiety and stress. The very reason we react so strongly to stress, is because it is generated in the external realm, the so called surface where it becomes easy to lose sight of the deeper realm of our being. The stormy seas and the struggle to swim through agitated waters has caused us to label life as difficult and as we people of the modern world say: stressful.

Various yoga techniques like restorative yoga, meditation, pranayama, basically help you restore contact with your center. They invite you to dip your head under the surface and move inward, leave the periphery for a moment or two and relax into your own being so deeply, that the outer disappears and only the inner remains. And unlike our erroneous beliefs, relaxing into oneself is not difficult at all, what is difficult or what creates difficulty in our lives rather, is clinging to the surface.

There is a yoga tale to that effect I would like to share with you.

A Sufi fakir was traveling, it was nighttime and he was lost. I was so dark he couldn’t see where he was going. Suddenly as he is taking his next step fwd he realizes there is no ground beneath his feet. So he catches a branch on the edge of the cliff and holds onto it with all his might, he is terrified, he doesn’t know how far down the abyss goes. He calls out for help but no one comes. The night was so cold his hands became frozen and he knew that sooner or later he’d have to let go of the branch, he felt death near…any moment he would fall and die. As that moment came, terrified he feels the branch slipping out of his hands and he falls…but the moment he falls, he started dancing…there was no abyss under him, he was a few inches above ground and yet he had suffered all night.

This is our situation really; we go clinging to the surface, afraid that if we leave it we will lose ourselves in the darkness. Actually in clinging to the surface we are lost. Think about it, why is it that when you come from the jungle out there to take a yoga class, feeling stressed, tired, drained, angry, you walk out somehow magically energized, positive, happy, relaxed? Because you left the surface and journeyed inward where all is always quiet and through theses practices, you have allowed the inner peace to expand out to the surface.

You want stress to decrease its stronghold on you, stop holding onto the surface and fall within yourself ….then go imagining an entire world with people in touch with their center rather than living on the surface.

Life just got sweeter no?

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