The Tao Te Ching tells us:
Combine the assertive strength of yang
With the heart of compassionate yin.
In this valley of possibilities
Live your life like a river,
Strong and true.
Tao Te Ching,28
Transition times can be especially challenging. As we re-enter our wider personal and professional worlds after over a year of Covid lockdown, we can feel confused, anxious, and even overwhelmed by all the changes and choices we face. It's something I've been experiencing lately.
Living creatively is an ongoing journey of personal development, which influences everything around us. The ancient wisdom of the Tao Te Ching combines the polarities of yin and yang in which wise leaders balance the Socratic wisdom of knowing ourselves with a keen awareness of the energies around us.
By cultivating the inner life, the Tao, like many spiritual traditions, helps us acquire balance. We become more aware of our values and the energies within and around us. If we're too outer directed, we can get so caught up in external energies that we merely react—fight, flight, or freeze. If we're too inner-directed, we may never venture forth to deal with life's challenges. But by maintaining dynamic balance, we develop the strength of bamboo. Open at the center, bamboo is flexible--it bends with the wind and does not break.
In our busy lives, it takes courage and compassion to attend to our own needs and discipline to set aside contemplative time. But wise individuals are stewards of their energies and respect their own personal resources. They set aside time for reflection and renewal, spending time in nature, meditating, taking a walk at the end of the day. They often pause throughout the day to take a deep breath and ask themselves how they feel and what they need.
To experience this balanced awareness for yourself, try this brief meditation:
- Close your eyes and take a deep breath, slowing releasing it.
- As you breathe more slowly and deeply than usual, find a rhythm that feels natural to you.
- Now imagine your breath flowing in and out of the region of your heart, putting your hand on your heart if you wish.
- As you breathe this way, imagine yourself standing beside a river.
- See its water flowing by, sparkling in the sun,
- Feeling that river of energy flowing through you as you slowly breathe in and out.
- Now ask yourself, "How do I feel?" And listen for the answer.
- Next ask yourself, "What do I need right now?" Listen to your heart, your inner guidance.
- Your need may be simple—a drink of water, a break to exercise, a time to listen to your favorite music or check in with someone you love, or something else. It may be a new insight to take action on a project or decision.
- What is it that you need right now?
- Then, with a deep mindful breath, gently open your eyes and move forward to meet your need and bring greater balance to your life.
I wish you joy on the path.