Living and Growing
Every plant on earth grows in its own particular way. We can observe this in any forest, garden or field, both within and between species. Each has its own design in reaching the sky and a unique pattern of foliage, flowers and leaves. Roots connect to the earth and support growth, also finding their own path into the earth.
When a plant is trapped under a stone or overshadowed it cannot grow well. It has no space to be upright and is restricted to one direction, searching for a way out into the sunlight. Its roots are weak and unable to draw in nutrients. The plant cannot find its own particular way of being, and can only struggle incessantly, always exhausted.
Human beings are the same. We have entered an age when many of us are living under a shadow or a weight attached to our bodies and minds. We spend every waking hour encased in our own thoughts, with a predisposition to worry, to obsessively plan ahead and to continually analyse our actions and those of others. For some people the weight is a job, or a stressful lifestyle. It might be trauma; old emotions and unhappy memories or family conditions. Equally it can be workload, an injury or illness, depression, tiredness or boredom. Whatever it is, our quality of life is affected and we have come to believe that bad emotions and suffering are just part of the norm. We habitually maintain a constant internal dialogue which diverts our attention from what is in front of us. Our thinking is fed by reviewing situations and worrying about ‘what-if’s and ‘should-I’s, wasting our energy. These depletions find their way into the body, tightening the muscles and weakening the organs and causing tiredness, disease and premature aging. Everyone has experienced tension in the neck and shoulders as a result of worrying. For us to frequently move in and out of emotional states uses energy in the same way. Anger, fear, anxiety, sadness and dissatisfaction are rocks covering our growth. Gradually our bodies become more heavy and inflexible and lose their natural elasticity, lowering our quality of life.
But all of these things are not part of our nature, and can be removed, just as a stone covering a plant can be lifted. Our quality of life can truly be better. We can be free of anything heavy, and liberated to live a life free from restriction. We can build strong roots into our surroundings connecting us with our needs, bringing forth what is necessary and distance from what is harmful. We can be free from limitations, and encounter no situation that feels overwhelming or unmanageable.
The negative impacts on the physical body can in time be reversed, opening and supporting the muscles and joints and training ourselves to let go of tension rather than accumulate it. Our hearts can be contented and minds peaceful in a light and healthy body. We can have the life of an organism with plenty of space, free to reach up to the sun and down into the earth however we choose, drinking in energy from the surrounding environment. And as humans, we can go one step further and take pleasure in our living and growing. We can enjoy life.
Rachael Dunsmore, Oct 2010
Rachael is from the UK and travelled to Wudang in 2009 to become a student of Master Yuan. She has trained widely in spiritual practices and teaches yoga, martial arts and shamanic work when not in China. Her focus is the wider application of daoist philosophy to today's world and increasing health and spiritual wellbeing through the teachings and practice.