The Paradox of Action

Drawing In

October has been a whirlwind of a month for me.  Usually, I take some time in October to evaluate my year, to decide what I want to focus on for my next trip around the sun, and then to set a concise, meaningful intention to use as a mantra or touchstone in my daily meditation practice based on that reflection.  This year, as last, my energy at this time of year has been directed entirely outward, rather than inward.  I’ve been reaching out to make all sorts of new connections with people in my town, and reaching out to all sorts of activities to host in my studio space, to bring people in and get the word out my being here and what I have to offer.

The feedback has been remarkable – so much interest to offer so many types of holistic health information and learning – from yoga (of course), to sound healing, to acupuncture and essential oil use.  My dear partner asked, surprised at one of these combination offerings, “Do you want to do that?” and my unhesitating answer was, “Sure, Why not?”  I feel that these offerings will be beneficial.  Even so, it triggered an inquiry for me: have I lost my focus?  In my impatience to get this thing rolling (translation: fear that this, I, will fail), have I lost sight of what it is I want to create, and am I setting a slightly off direction course?

In order to effectively reach out, you have to draw in, not just at first, but continually.

With all of the outward-directed energy I have been generating and expending, I lately feel ungrounded and tired.  After a month of busy activity – networking events, open houses, talking to everyone I spend more than a minute next to – I realize that I have been grasping, reaching for whomever’s attention I can seize.  In yogic philosophy, this is parigraha; aparigraha (non-clinging, non-grasping, non-attachment) is one of the 5 yamas, and one I continue to deeply struggle with.  I am tired because my energy has been rooted from a grasping, rather than from simply being.  And as a result, I feel keenly the need to pause deeply, to draw in and be still.

Drawing inward and being still seems counter-intuitive, when trying to build momentum for a business, but I think this is one of the paradoxes that are so common in yogic philosophy – the paradox that, in order to effectively act in the external world, you have to draw in to the stillness inside, not just at first, but continually.  I learned this first through Anusara’s universal principles of alignment: in asana, first you contract and bring everything in with muscular energy, creating stability and strength, physical focus, and then from that place of focus you can expand outwards with ease, with grace and joy.  It is easy to expand without preserving that inward contraction, but it becomes ungrounded, uncentered, grasping, and eventually a struggle.

This is where I am.  Engaging in everything that comes along, grasping at anything that I think will help bring people in the door, instead of acting from my center.  For years, I have meditated regularly, most days.  But as all this has unfolded, I have let this practice slip.  Sometimes I have even actively discarded it, because it might be too intense.  So I am setting myself a task for November: return to my daily meditation practice, to recognize that my feeling of needing to be busy is a valid feeling, but is based in fear, and to use each instance of that recognition as an opportunity to pause, breathe, and draw in.

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