I’ve been mulling this idea for quite some time now. I have to, it won’t leave me alone. What can Living Well is the Best Revenge mean? “Living well” is easy to understand. Paired with “Revenge?” Dissonance roiling in my mind! How do we justify “living well” and “revenge” in the same thought and in the face of the Golden Rule? Doesn’t this mindset shackle us to the past in an on-going destructive cycle? Revenge on what? How revenge? Why revenge? Really, an eye for an eye and so on? How to administer cyber crime in this context? Accidental vs intentional transgressions?
So I cultivate tactics and perspectives to bring something into focus and sense I can grasp within this miasma. All the while, myriad eddies and streams spin off out of the chaos, each leading to a distinct facet of the whole concept. It was at a memorial service for a dear sweet friend, suddenly departed, I found a foothold and the path forward. The path is long and winding; here’s the first report from the road.
Two things have been clear from the outset. I wasn’t going to get away without really understanding what the word revenge means. I think we all have a sense of it, but what are its language roots? What is the fundamental energy template encoded in that word? In TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) parlance, what is the Original Qi (Yuan Qi, or prenatal qi) signature of the word? All etymological roads here lead to Rome: Latin vindex, vindicare, vindico all have to do with the idea of avenge and relate to our word revenge (look up difference between revenge and avenge on your own time please). From back over a couple millenia there comes a sense of not only defending against injustice but also restoration after injury at the root of revenge. Not wanton aggression or disproportionate blind rage. Justice in a return to balance and liberation from an injured state, for oneself or another.
The other thing was understanding where the phrase came from. Again, looking for foundation. Who said it and why? What did George Herbert (1593-1633, English poet) mean? Was he imagining a hedonistic 3 year old prince? Was this a poverty pipe dream of the oppressed? Was he a stone misanthrope, stepping on anyone and everyone to get ahead to get his? Have we totally co-opted an older sentiment to fit contemporary purposes?
Looking back at Herbert’s life (Poetry Foundation.org Bio), we see words like contemplative, humility, local, devotional used to describe the man. It seems Mr. Herbert was operating from a place of integrity and generosity of (Christian) spirit. I’m put in mind of the Chinese word zheng 正, simply translated as upright or correct. This online citation includes the meanings “centrally-located” and “pure.” We see zheng in TCM as zheng qi, the aggregate of processes keeping the person whole, well and functioning correctly. That includes the condition of your Yuan Qi, among other aspects. As TCM is more about relationships than absolutes, we must consider here xie qi as well, usually thought of as disruptive or pathogenic influences. Ah, it seems Herbert was saying a life righteously lived was the best response to the inevitable slings and arrows of human experience.
Ok. So what was it about this gathering of people from the many iterations of my friend’s life? It was this: each story told in rememberance was the same one. Of course the particulars varied. Gosh, that’s exactly what makes it all so interesting! The story was of her love and elan for each of us. Well, yes, I know what you’re saying. Yes, everyone is “zheng” at their memorial. But you know people like her: “good” people, ones who make you feel grand and special and joyful and even healthy. They’re not a dime a dozen and we’re lucky to know them. But what finally clarified, crystallized was the understanding she embodied and lived “Anti-Pain” even though she herself had more than her share of on-going Pain. It is the ability for each of us to hold opposites within that makes us whole. In fact, death comes when our own Yin and Yang separate. Pain was one thing with which she seemed to be stingy; she did not share and put it off on to others. This was the story told over and over: her generosity of spirit, enthusiasm, joy and love. One of the definitions of vindico is to liberate and deliver. It is through friendship and sharing of our true spirits we protect (by nourishing the zheng qi) and restore one another. Is that not a good way of revenge? How can we not?
“Friendship is a sheltering tree” (Samuel Taylor Coleridge)
C'mon!?! No, really, they all walk into this moment in March between St. Patrick’s Day and the Vernal Equinox. A story can be told of this powerful time of year, especially 2017's Fire Rooster year. Hold on to your hats and get ready to go!
2017’s Vernal Equinox (March 20), as one of the balance points in the year (Yin & Yang are balanced, equal day & night), is definitely not static. I'm sure you sense that. It’s dynamically balanced as the moment between breaths is balanced: vital with all potential. As we tip our way toward new growth and re-generation, Yang is rising, Yin is waning; the time of action develops and grows. Energy rises up out of winter’s hibernation to be born again into manifestation and action in a new year, a new cycle. Spring belongs to the Wood element within Chinese cosmology, the sphere of initiating, growing, rising up, as well as the attribute of justice. Wood element cannot be held back from being born and transitioning to the next cycle, the next incarnation any more that spring or new babies can be held back.
Move into this season of renewal, harness the inherent Power and Strength of Mars. Roman god Mars, ruler of March (first Roman month), originally governed fertility and agriculture, new growth and procreation: life! Ride this wave of natural and powerful vitality, dedicate to your unique vision (passion, path, life’s work) in the way St. Patrick did, dedicated to spreading the truth of his own vision.
Now more than ever, what do you have to say? What moves you to action? What is ready for birthing?
EVERYTHING IS WAITING FOR YOU
Your great mistake is to act the drama as if you were alone.
As if life were a progressive and cunning crime with no witness to the tiny hidden transgressions.
To feel abandoned is to deny the intimacy of your surroundings.
Surely, even you, at times, have felt the grand array; the swelling presence, and the chorus, crowding out your solo voice.
You must note the way the soap dish enables you, or the window latch grants you freedom.
Alertness is the hidden discipline of familiarity.
The stairs are your mentor of things to come, the doors have always been there to frighten you and invite you, and the tiny speaker in the phone is your dream-ladder to divinity.
Put down the weight of your aloneness and ease into the conversation.
The kettle is singing even as it pours you a drink, the cooking pots have left their arrogant aloofness and seen the good in you at last.
All the birds and creatures of the world are unutterably themselves.
Everything is waiting for you.
Everything is Waiting for You
From RIVER FLOW: New and Selected Poems
from EVERYTHING IS WAITING FOR YOU Poems by David Whyte
Let’s face it, between interesting passions and myriad responsibilities, who’s got time?
That’s the paradox, relaxing can “expand” time, or rather our perception of time so we lose that personal atmosphere of feeling constantly compressed and behind.
Herbert Benson, MD, forged the mind-body link in contemporary mainstream awareness with “The Relaxation Response” (1975), showing the benefits of calming the neurological sympathetic cascade of physiological processes, which when experienced chronically over time become harmful and debilitating. In other words, getting out of a predominant fight, flight or even freeze state and allowing return to homeostasis, or natural bio-functioning, balances out the detrimental effects of contemporary life. This is where we’re designed to be, not in constant high-alert mode. Modern science confirms what the Ancients knew to be true.
A lot of discussions around this idea center on meditation and mindfulness practices as relaxation techniques. Yes, very useful and effective! Not the only options; there are many little tricks you can learn to cultivate this natural state. The good news is you don’t have to do it all by yourself, even though we’re each ultimately responsible for our own selves. My practice is founded on helping folks get out of their own way for a while, giving their systems a chance to let down and reboot.
How do I do this? It’s different for each person and may vary from time to time. I call on any number of techniques and tools (see Services) based on my own clinical experience but more importantly based on what’s salient for the individual in the moment. Although it may often not feel this way, we’re each the authority on ourselves. I rely on that Wisdom that comes from You. Acupuncture and Healing Sound are two of the strongest methods in my clinical opinion.
Here’s a couple things you can use to help answer “why relax?” for yourself
Long, Slow Deep Breathing
Simple, you already have all the equipment, and you can do it anywhere, anytime you need. Use the image of your inhale coming all the way into your whole torso, filling your internal self up as water fills a glass, from the bottom up. Let the exhale return from the top down. Fill up your torso front to back, side to side, bottom to top, letting your breath flow with ease, without effort. Keep your mental presence on the process. Use this gif to get started. Once you really have it, feel free to lengthen and deepen your breathing on your own. A little bit every day is better than trying to do a long session if and when you get around to it. Results are cumulative!
Guided Meditations with Singing Bowls
Sound used in therapeutic settings is another potent ancient tool enjoying a renaissance in modern times. Certain sounds and instruments combined with voice bring the listener to a place similar to deep meditation.
I've joined the ranks of recorded practitioners, guiding the listener into profound relaxation from the inside out to the sounds of singing bowls and other sacred instruments. “Opening to Yourself” download available at CD Baby. Contact me to purchase a CD. Seek out sources that "speak" to you; try field recordings of natural sounds, especially Gordon Hempton.
From CD Baby Album Notes:
“Find your way back to your true self, as you are intended to be! Open into your original energetic blueprint to re-balance and re-set accompanied by the sacred sounds of singing bowls (both Himalayan and crystal) and other acoustic instruments. Linda's soothing voice brings you deep inside to profound relaxation. Let the healing power of music and sound wash through your very being, recalling and evoking your connection to all-that-is.”
I’m ready to help!
The Tai Ji icon (aka Yin-Yang) concisely answers “Why Relax” for me. This symbol represents an organizing principle that makes sense of this manifest life, how we are in our perceived universe. Yin and Yang are about relationship rather than absolutes. Energy/matter. Inside/outside. Hot/cold. Doing/not-doing. Not-doing as a form of relaxation. It’s by knowing hot we understand cold. It’s by not-doing we balance doing as night balances day. I’ll probably talk more about Yin & Yang at some point.