Balance of Stability and Freedom

Last night, we were talking about the parameters of cultivating a steady and fruitful meditation practice, and Paul Muller-Ortega suggested that it was about the balance of stability and flexibility. He had learned the principle from a different source, but I have contemplated and explored the principle in depth from teachings I have received from John Friend.

A critical aspect of the Anusara alignment principles is to find the perfect balance of stability and freedom. We need stability to stay fully and safely in each pose. We need freedom to achieve the fullest and most delightful expression of the pose.

We find the stability both by making certain that we have established our foundation (which is an aspect of the first principle of opening to grace). By then using the three aspects of muscular energy–hugging the muscles to the bone, drawing into the midline, and drawing energy from the periphery to the focal point, we make possible an expansion of our edge, whatever that might be. Having a solid, aligned foundation and affirming our very core with these actions, gives us security and balance. We also want to reach out, to be playful, to expand to our fullest, which we do using the expansive, outreaching organic energy — from focal point to the periphery, from the midline to our outer edges, from the very marrow of our bones through bone, muscle, skin, and beyond.

If we over-emphasize (including natural inclination) stability, then we can get stuck. If we just let ourselves be free, then we end up all over the place. When these elements are perfectly balanced, we can safely find our deepest freedom of expression.

When I teach this principle as the focus of a class, I always invite my students to think of how important the balance of stability and freedom is for every aspect of our lives.

The discussion last night put this principle in the context of the regularity and steadiness of our practice, with the recognition that to stick with our practice, we will sometimes need to vary the time or amount of our practice, or what elements are included in the practice.

To get the fullest benefits of a practice (this applies to any practice and not just to meditation), we need to show up consistently and to practice in accordance with how we have been taught. To stay steady, though, we need to give ourselves the permission or freedom not to show up, or within appropriate parameters, to modify the practice when life gets in the way of what we think would be the ideal practice. If we think we have to do things at the exact time and place every day in a perfectly precise way, we become rigid. On the other hand, if we are loosey-goosey about it, then we do not have much of a practice and will not realize the benefits that we could get.

Where in your practice or life would more stability and steadiness give a field for greater freedom and happiness? Where could you give yourself a little more flexibility so that you feel that steadiness brings the possibility of joy, rather than tying you down?

Peace and light, E — Posted with WordPress for BlackBerry.



When I was walking about yesterday, I thought I could not bear to leave the exuberance of DC’s spring. Only my house sitter would be able to watch all the new seedlings coming up in my garden. I would miss the last of the cherry blossoms. Then I thought that it would be spring where I am going–and no doubt gorgeous in its own way.

In photo from front to back: tulips, azaleas, redbud, dogwood (pink and white).

Peace and light, E — Posted with WordPress for BlackBerry.


Present from a Vandal

When I was out walking at lunch time, I noticed several pieces of lilac on the sidewalk. Somebody with nothing better in his own mind to do had randomly picked pieces of lilac sprays and then dropped them on the sidewalk.

The blossoms were still perfectly fresh. Although I would not have picked any of the lilac’s blooms myself, it seemed a waste to just leave them lying on the sidewalk to be stepped on and to wilt. I picked up a bit, enjoying the scent as I returned to work. It will scent my room for another few hours and then will fade away.

Peace and light, E — Posted with WordPress for BlackBerry.


A Good Place to Sit

I came out briefly to sit and contemplate and write in my journal before a staff meeting at lunch time (no lunch provided).

The Scott Burton chairs in the National Sculpture Garden are one of the more delightful places to sit outside near my office.

First, I was joined by several birds. Then some tourists came along. The one with all the jewels sat down at the direction of her friend in orange for a photo. “We’re not allowed to sit here,” the sitter said with a little glee in her voice.

I directed her to the sign near the seats giving permission. This led the photographer both to sit down with her friend, but also to lose any real interest in taking the photograph.

What was it about the loss of transgressiveness that made the photo less desirable? The chairs are the same whether permitted or not. In fact, with sitting permitted, there is more time to explore fully their function as chair as well as their form as art.

This set me wondering about how much our desires are driven by social ideas, rather than needs and comforts.

A father and his son approach the chairs fro the other direction. After reading the sign giving permission to sit, they promptly sat down. The bare statement “granite chairs,” was all that was said before they got back up and went on they’re way.

Peace and light, E — Posted with WordPress for BlackBerry.


What Do You See?

What do you first notice when you look at this photo? What do you notice next? Do you find yourself making aesthetic judgments or comparisons? What about moral judgments?

Is it possible truly to witness without judgment? To see the good (or at least the potential for good) in everything, even if it does not please us or fit in with how we would like the world to be?

Peace and light, E — Posted with WordPress for BlackBerry.