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Strong yet Relaxed

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Introduction by Judith Parker Harris:

In place of Blocks in the News and movie reviews, I’m offering you a wonderful article from my friend and colleague, Debbie Barnett. Yoga is one of the most important things I do to keep my life in balance. I’ve been bombarded with a few frustrating events in my life of late, that I have fought to control. This article arrived just in time to remind me to “lighten up, choose consciousness over control, be grateful for the abundance in life and trust that things will work out in good time. I still take action – lots of action – but I let go of the immediate outcome knowing that time and the universe take part as well.

Please enjoy the gift of this article from Debbie.

Strong yet Relaxed
by Debbie Barnett

There’s a basic concept of yoga known as Stirha/Sukha, to be strong yet relaxed in a pose. This applies to our life as well. We can be strong in our values, yet relaxed in our approach to life.

Our need for control creates unnecessary stress and tension, physically mentally, and spiritually. Realize that control is an illusion. When we let go of this illusion, we surrender into the flow of life.

Another aspect of control is perfectionism. We have this idea that we have to do things perfectly, and hold ourselves to impossible standards. Then we feel like a failure when we don’t meet this unrealistic expectation.

Controlling and perfectionism are like continuously being strong without softness. It leads to a life out of balance. There are ways to be strong that don’t lead to becoming stiff and stuck.

Think of water, for example. It can be gentle and soft, or raging and wild. Water is the most powerful element on Earth. Pit water against Earth; water wins. Look at the Grand Canyon as an example. Try water against fire. Again, water wins. By its very nature, it is fluid and flexible.

Water is strong because it is patient and persistent; it’s in no hurry. It knows full well its strength and is willing to wait it out. It will seep into every crack and crevice left unsealed. It gathers force through sheer volume and exerts it will unflinchingly.

When we surrender to life, we flow with life’s currents. When we try to control life, it’s like trying to dam up a mighty river with a truckload of boulders. Water (life) laughs in the face of such folly. Better to learn to become flexible in body, mind and spirit. We then align ourselves with nature rather than fighting against it. The secret to a spiritual warrior’s strength lies in her ability to surrender her will to that of the Divine. Not my will, but Thy will be done. Stable and steady, yet able to flow with what life brings with flexibility and grace. Surrender to your inner wisdom, and let it guide you down the path of least resistance. Become like water.

How to practice Stirha/Sukha in your life:

1. Notice where you are trying to control the outcome. Get clear on what you want to accomplish and then let it go.

2. Rather than creating undo anxiety about the future, let your mantra be, “I surrender.”

3. Give up the idea of perfection. Do your best and let go of the rest.

4. Learn to be okay with what is. One of my favorite sayings is: “It is what it is, until it isn’t. Then it will be something else.”

5. If you continuously meet with resistance, ask yourself, “Where am I trying to force my will?” Again, let it go.

If you enjoyed this article, please consider passing it on to a friend so that they, too, can be strong yet relaxed in life. Thanks! :)


Debbie Barnett

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