It’s a time to dig deep, I feel. This practice of ‘Go Calm’ and remaining in the parasympathetic state is so important. And not everyone enjoys it if I’m no longer Excitable Me. Look at this ad which came out two days about a dragon called ‘Excitable Edgar’…
Bizarre timing. The moral of the ad is to channel your excitability into something apt (for Edgar, setting Christmas puddings alight), once you’ve finished burning up others’ precious things (eg snowmen, Christmas decorations). Obviously, the alternative is to learn turn one’s excitability into calm – for me, a fully grown human, at least.
-65- The ancients who practised the Tao did not use it to enlighten the people, but rather to assist them in gaining simplicity. The reason people are difficult to govern is because they are too clever. Hence, a person who attempts to govern a country by cleverness will injure it. Those who govern without cleverness will be a blessing to the land. These are the two models. Knowing these models is called the Mystic Virtue. The Mystic Virtue is deep and so far-reaching that it can lead all things back toward great harmony. (The Tao Te Ching 65)
I hear this: watch out for ‘cleverness’; develop ‘simplicity’ instead. For me, my cleverness and my excitability go hand in hand. It makes sense: there is a choice between being in the…
- Head state (intellectual, problem-solving, sympathetic nervous system, hard, clever) and being in the
- Heart state (compassionate, allowing, parasympathetic, soft, simple).
The Head wants constant change, newness, innovation, stimulation.
The Heart understands the value of simple, repeated practices.
May I develop the Heartfulness to allow myself to settle into simple, repeated practices. May I learn to be content with ‘rinse and repeat’.
Today I found a good writer on Taoism, Casey Kochmer: https://personaltao.com/taoism/taoism-101/
And his book, A Personal Tao by Casey Kochmer (downloadable for free here). I am grateful he has shared his practices plus 3 explanatory notes:
My personal practice seems simple to me, as it’s something that has evolved over many years. Anyone else looking at my practice would be confused by the seemingly random way I skip between activities: Poetry, massage (giving and receiving), Jujutsu, Yoga (3 different styles), Patterning(1), Wandering, Mediation, Meditation, Love, Pastel Drawing, Dancing, Reading, Day Dreaming, Chi-Gung(2) and finally Listening. I have only really mastered three of these practices and within the rest I am just a novice or have only a very basic level of skill. The goal isn’t to become a master. The goal(3) is to flow with needs of life. If my body is feeling out of shape, I ramp up the Yoga and Jujutsu. If my body is extra sore I get some massage. If I can’t stop thinking, then I write poetry or meditate. If I have an excess of positive energy “Chi’ then I will help heal someone by giving a massage or perform some patterning. As the real world interferes unexpectedly every day, it means having access to a range of different activities permitting flexibility by matching a practice to my current needs.
1) Patterning is a term I coined for describing the practice of using a combination of patterns found in our lives to help unlock truth or ideas. Many different types of patterning exist. For example: Psychology is a form of patterning based on human mental processes. Feng Shui is patterning based on human nature, artistry and older lore. Divination is another form of patterning using I-Ching, Tarot cards or Rune stones to predict possible future events. […]
2) I highly recommend the spin-cycle-washing-machine-slap-your-kidneys movement in Chi-Gung. (Ok, I purposely forget the movement’s name) […]
3) The goal is never a goal; the purpose of any practice is supporting your essence with tools fitting the needs of the moment.
Beautiful stuff. I like the flow, the adapting, the selecting of practices according to arising circumstances, and the sense of practices being a means to creating balance, to developing harmony.
-66- How did the sea gain kingship of a hundred streams? Because it takes the lower position. Hence, it is king of a hundred streams. Therefore, when True Persons are over the people they put themselves below the people by their speech. When they lead the people they stand behind the people. When True Persons are given places above the people they do not crush the people with their weight. When they take their place ahead of the people they do not obstruct the people’s progress. That is why everything under heaven supports them gladly and does not tire of them. Because they strive with no one, no one can ever strive with them. (The Tao Te Ching 66)
A good reminder that the Tao Te Ching is very much a good leadership and governance guide. Stenudd comments that this chapter points to ‘certain principles of leadership, striving not to increase people’s burdens, but to diminish them.‘ I like the image of the hundred streams flowing into the sea. I would like to have a greater awareness of the hundred streams of qi, of divine assistance, of universal goodness, of source energy flowing into our personal arenas each moment. Can my practice be one in which I learn to take the lower position and sense / catch / touch / receive some of that universal beneficence?
Sounds like a peak experience to us.
Ha! Have we found the peak experience… in the lower position?! Awesome.
I used to think the ‘water flowing to the lowest position’ imagery was all about humility, modesty, deference, service. But maybe also it’s just the physics of an abundant life. In qigong, with the practice of Lift Qi Up, Pour Qi Down, you get a sense of the abundance of universal energy available to us if we can just still ourselves enough to receive it.
What is the learning for me today?
Why not ‘go in’ and receive the flow of universal intelligence available to you and to all?
Settling in, images came to me of BALANCE. It felt that inner balance is not ‘feeling grounded’. It’s actually a very light, poised sensation with some inner wobble – like ‘sitting on a fence’ or ‘standing on a pole’. In ordinary life, we can sit or stand with ease, until the platform beneath us becomes very narrowed and focussed – and in mastering that physical, bodily balance on a narrow point, we must establish inner balance first. Thus this:
becomes this with the development of inner balance:
Inner balance. Hm… I’ve often tried to achieve balance in my life by hardening routines, or pinning patterns down, or controlling my circumstances.
Inner balance begets outer balance, not the other way round. This is one of life’s conundrums, and gifts. The streams flow into the sea. By ‘being the sea’ rather than being the rushing, gushing stream, the weightedness and solidity and balance you seek becomes the natural state.
The rushing, gushing stream = Excitable Me?
The movement you have offered life has been well-received. Can you be at peace now? Can you receive, softly, and in balance? Can you be the frequency holder, rather than the frequency chaser?
Oooh, man. I like that. Yes? Yes! Yes.
For years I have been striving for balance. Ha! The opposite of wu wei. Balance arises from non-striving, right?
Balance is a state of non-striving, lightly held.
I keep coming back to the notion of ‘sitting on the fence’. Thoughts?
To sit on the fence means to withhold judgment. There is a lot to be said for that.
Yes, judgment is such a heavy fist upon a delicate situation. I can withhold judgment as a way of developing inner balance. It’s the ‘maybe so’ approach, isn’t it?
You mentioned the inner wobble. Sense that today. Sense how when you are developing inner balance, you will often experience an accompanying inner wobble. Learning to note and greet the inner wobble is a good practice in your development of inner balance. Softening into uncertainty is a fine practice.
I am greeting inner wobble