the power is you

Posted: October 28, 2011 in Observations and Commentary
Tags: , , , , , ,

We live in tough times, difficult times. Pressures crowd us with a relentless urgency that often makes it hard to distinguish between up and down, right and wrong. Our path gets riddled with doubt and the muddier it becomes the easier it is to stumble. Our struggles squeeze us so tightly that our spirit fades, our body sags. When Thomas Paine said, “These are times that try men’s souls” he could have been talking about today as much as he was 1776. We know his famous quote can apply to any time in history, but this isn’t “any time.” This is our time. And it is burdened with discord, confusion and faded hope.

These days life moves with unbelievable speed. As a species we are working to come to terms with how to best manage these dizzying changes and the ruthless influx of noise. But let there be no doubt. We don’t cower in the face of trouble and we don’t quit. Like those before us we adjust, we maneuver, we learn to cope. We adapt so our hopes and dreams for a good life, a life brimming with love, happiness and companionship, will be realized despite the forces which fight to hold us back. This conflict is the universal theme which threads through the human experience. Thankfully, we can still rely on proven methods to re-invigorate ourselves. Thankfully, some truths never die.

If you’re feeling overly stressed or worn out stop what you’re doing. Stop right now. Lean back in your chair and slowly take a deep breath. Stay attuned to the air entering your body. Feel your lungs expand. Hold that breath for a moment and exhale slowly. Concentrate on the air as it passes through your mouth or nose like a warm breeze. Do this several times. Remember to focus on inhaling and exhaling, on filling and emptying your lungs. You may notice a bit of anxiety slip away. Your muscles may slightly unwind. Your neck may relax and your head may even droop a bit. Don’t ignore this. Appreciate it.

Now stand up. With your legs slightly spread and your feet planted firmly on the ground fully extend your arms over your head, clasp your hands together and stretch upwards. Don’t overdo it; don’t hurt yourself. Stretch just enough so you can feel those biceps and triceps respond to your actions, so you can feel your back muscles react. If you think you can safely stretch a bit more, go ahead. Reach higher. Again focus on your muscles, on how they feel, on what they are doing.

Remain standing. With your arms still extended upwards and your hands still clasped together, slowly tilt at the waist to the left. Just enough to feel your oblique muscles gently pull. Concentrate on each sensation, each motion. Remember, don’t overdo it. You’re not Gumby, so don’t try to be. You have nothing to prove. Now repeat it, only this time to your right. Remain acutely aware of how your body feels. Savor every small movement for this is the stuff of life.

Sit back down, let your arms fall to your side and do nothing. Take five minutes, ten minutes. Take whatever time you need. Do nothing because doing nothing can be worth everything.

These simple exercises are hardly revolutionary. It’s true they will not change the world. They will not pay your bills or repair your car. They will not end hunger in a world which produces plenty of food to feed everyone. They will not stop senseless acts of violence or end disheartening political corruption. But that’s okay. With a little luck they will refresh you and diminish some of those peripheral worries which fill your day. They will give you a burst of energy no cup of coffee can hope to duplicate, if even only for a brief time. When you are more energized, when your stress has been tempered, positive attitudes can more easily slip in. My friends, this is true power. Your positive energy accompanies your every action and shines brightly on those you encounter. Perhaps it may even influence these folks who, in turn, will pass this beautiful sentiment along. By any measure can we hope for anything better than that?

  1. sparklebumps says:

    I can’t NOT do it! I feel awful if I’m sitting on my ass when there are dirty dishes!


  2. sparklebumps says:

    I used to rush around like crazy, and then I got mono. I took it easy and I think it back-fired. I am now the laziest person of all time after all the housework is done.


  3. I like this simple routine anyone can follow. I’m a yoga unkie for exactly the reasons you so aptly describe here. No, it may not change the world, but it makes my world easier to live in.

    Fabulous and helpful post.


    • John says:

      Thanks. I’m a big proponent of engaging in whatever brings you peace. Now if only everyone would do that…


      • I wish I was a yoga devotee. The thing is, if I get quiet for more than a few minutes, I just fall asleep. It’s not really an age thing. I fell asleep in yoga class in college. My roommate and fellow yoga class attendee was pissed that I was highly regarded for my ability to zone out so well during meditation when she knew I was just getting some shut eye. Then one day I dreamed I was falling – thrashing around – the secret was out. My reputation tarnished. Bad yogi. Oh well….


        • John says:

          I can see how falling asleep so easily could become awkward at times. Nonetheless, you’ll never suffer from insomnia!

          I tried yoga once and thought I was going to break into 500 pieces. Other people around me were bending in ways I assumed could only achieved by a pipe cleaner. I’ve always said I’d give it another chance some day. I figured that was vague enough!


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