Paradoxes

In addition to many things on my active reading list right now, I’ve been reading the Tao Te Ching (Wayne Dyer’s translation of it at least). I’ve been having some great “ah-ha!” moments in realizing that not only is it okay to feel like there are imbalances in the world, that’s the way it works best! To be able to accept that the things that seem to be contradictory exist in the same space is as much a relief as it is disconcerting (ha! There’s one right now!) So much of my own frustration with transitions in life are that I feel pulled in many directions and not settled. This unsettled and stuck feeling can be an opportunity for more awareness to allow more movement.

One concept that helps to bring more awareness to patterns is the idea of your internal and external sensations. For example, I have a client who feels like she stands fairly straight and upright. When I had her look in the mirror, she was slouching forward significantly. How can that be? How can your internal sensations betray the external reality? Because they are both reality. They both exist at the same time, and both are true. Your internal subjective experience is YOUR reality.

So what can we do with this information? Well, as with anything we want to change, the first step is becoming aware of the thing you wish to change. If your internal sensations don’t match what the world sees, is that causing a problem? Could it cause a problem in the future? How does it feel for you to place your internal self into the external vision, and vice versa? When we worked to release and lengthen the front of her body, my client who had felt she was straight already but actually slouched forward felt as though she was going to fall over backwards! But then when she looked in the mirror, she was standing up very straight. Her body needed a little time to integrate this new pattern, and when she did, that is what felt “normal” to her. And in hindsight, she could remember feeling pulled forward with a depressed chest. Sometimes we don’t know we are out of balance until we come into balance, or even cross over to the opposite side. This particular conflict led to awareness, then call to action, change, and ultimately more freedom of movement because she found greater balance. Even though her initial posture wasn’t causing significant pain, this new found alignment offered her more flexibility and more freedom.

We are adaptive creatures, yet we can become stuck and complacent in our patterns and it can be disconcerting when we are challenged with change. Know that life is change, and part of a somatic practice is being comforted by the constant movement of life, even when that movement feels so still at times.

As soon as beauty is known by the world as beautiful, it becomes ugly.
As soon as virtue is being known as something good, it becomes evil.
Therefore being and non-being give birth to each other.
Difficult and easy accomplish each other.
Long and short form each other.
High and low distinguish each other.
Sound and tone harmonize each other.
Before and after follow each other as a sequence.

~ From the second verse of Lao-tzu’s Tao Te Ching

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