Whole and Perfect by Nature
Human kind has not
woven the web of life,
we are but one thread within it.
Whatever we do to the web,
we do to ourselves.
All things are bound together,
all things connect.
- Chief Seattle
Many of the world’s greatest earth wisdom traditions claim that we are interconnected beings who instinctively pursue our life’s purpose of attaining inner balance and well-being through continuous integration of all of our parts. These philosophies are often accompanied by mind-body-spirit techniques and practices that help us to retrieve stored knowledge and wisdom that are applicable to different aspects of our lives.
Yoga, for example, reminds us of all the steps that we take for granted when we balance ourselves on one foot. Most of us learned this simple balancing act through trial and error, and made adjustments until we got it right without giving it much thought. We now know intuitively that if we stick an arm out and flail it, it is much harder to find our balance than if we counterbalance our weight with another arm and keep it still.
There’s a lot of other useful knowledge and information that we continuously gather in our minds, bodies, and spirits, but are not always aware of or don’t always use. For instance, through mindful contemplation we may notice that we find our center of balance much easier if we look at a line or speck on the floor or in the horizon. This helps us to shut out distractions, quiet our minds, and minimize movement in our bodies.
Once we are really still, we are able to regulate our breathing and focus on subtle bodily sensations that inform us what shifts we need to make to stand more firmly. We learn to listen to our bodies and control the muscles necessary to make the shifts.
With practice, concentration, and stillness, we can develop more conscious control and awareness of our bodies and our inner core, which is usually around the navel area for most people. Our stability and sense of balance increase depending on the strength of our awareness, physical control, and connection to this core.
To get to an ideal state of balance, it is necessary to think holistically – to be aware of this core and to be equally aware of all other parts of our body from the position of the crown of our head to the tips of our fingers to the controlled muscles in our toes. This ability comes naturally to most people even if it requires a bit of practice. With these basic skills under our belt, we can learn to do increasingly more challenging poses without losing our balance.
The same general principles used for finding our physical balance apply to finding the inner balance of our psyche. We have powerful memories of the times when we have been in an ideal state of inner balance. These core and cell memories continuously inspire and guide us back to our center of balance whenever we are “flailing”.
Unfortunately, the shaming and blaming that we have learned to do to ourselves make this type of balancing and adjusting seem more difficult at times. But all that inner balance requires is working through these emotions, letting go of old stories and identities, and learning to focus and make the shifts that are needed guided by the wisdom of our true self.
In order to do this, we need to stop the constant going and doing, quiet the chatter in our minds, and give up maladaptive coping strategies that are often like protective walls that keep us from sensing and connecting to our core. This break in habit is necessary to teach us how to focus inwardly with non-judgmental presence, and how to fully embrace repressed parts of ourselves in the present moment.
Through self acceptance and moment-to-moment awareness of our core, we will intuitively know what actions, feelings, or thoughts move us further away from our centeredness and what kind of adjustments will bring us closer. Our inner control, tolerance level, stability, and ability to manage greater challenges will improve through mindfulness, skill building, and practice in the same way that our physical balance does.
When we attain our ideal state of inner balance, we often also feel a simultaneous and spiritual connection to our true core, to all of life, and to a greater or divine life energy, called different names such as “Qi,” “Wakan Tanka” "God," “the Holy Spirit,” "Life Force," "Allah," "prana," and “Ohm” in different cultures. The benefits of this holistic and spiritual connection have been well supported by psychological research and strongly linked to self-acceptance, positive functioning, meaningful social relationships, fewer reports of depression and anxiety, optimism, a stronger immune system, and better health and coping skills.