In a split second, life can go from being in balance to suddenly out of control. How we respond to these unexpected events in life has everything to do with our spiritual cultivation. When we have true rooting and cultivation, we are able to sit with all aspects of experience as it unfolds, both the positive and negative aspects, and from that process gain an understanding that allows true growth, not just the illusion or facade of growth.
So often, people mistakenly think that a focus on only the positive is a mark of enlightenment or maturity, when it is the reflection on both the joys and challenges of life that allows one to truly understand where one’s strengths are and also appreciate the areas that need refinement or growth.
The arts of qi gong and taiji encourage this process of examining areas of balance and imbalance without judgment for when you engage specific movement forms, you have an opportunity to notice your core strengths, balance and flexibility, but also notice where you are wobbly, lacking in centeredness and rigid. As I often mention during our ongoing Saturday qi gong class, the movements are a metaphor for life. For example, if you are rushing through the movements and performing them like calisthenics, this is a metaphor for how you may be glossing through life and missing the nuances and signals that can help you refine your life. If you think you have mastered a move and have nothing really new to learn from it, this is a metaphor for the tendency to fall into spaces of complacency and routines in your life, that you’re not truly stepping out to learn new things that will benefit the release of old paradigms and patterns.
When life suddenly shifts and our bodies, minds or spirits are challenged in new ways, it is our cultivation that can carry us to new places of insights by giving us new lenses through which to view the world. As an example, this week, I was struck by a car who made an illegal left turn into my vehicle, and have had to modify all the routines of my usual practices to accommodate the injuries. Yet, this process of modifying routines, affirms a great ability to flex with what is presented in the life not by just focusing on all the positive love and support that friends, family, neighbors, APD officers and colleagues have given so abundantly, but also by sitting with the very real negative aspects of the experience such as the physical pain, mental shock, and trauma that is natural whenever such an event occurs. Yet, the cultivation holds–and despite these negative aspects, I am able to gain insights to recognize where I am strong and also where I am vulnerable and weak.
So the next time you imagine that the goal of a deep spiritual cultivation is this rosy-lensed view that only keeps you focused on the positive or that the mark of enlightenment is only experiencing bliss, come back to reality and use your taiji and qi gong to discover that true enlightenment empowers a person to be fully connected to all aspects of experience in this human form, not just the positive, and that by embracing the full range of all human experiences, one is empowered to see and experience life lessons in a far deeper way than glossing over the negative and creating an egoic and falsely optimistic haze that does not really promote the resolution of patterns or experiences that may be heavier or negative in nature, and are are as valuable to our learning processes as the bright, triumphant moments.
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