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18 Apr 2019

On lightness

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Accept disgrace willingly.
Accept misfortune as the human condition.

What do you mean by “Accept disgrace willingly”?
Accept being unimportant.
Do not be concerned with loss or gain.
This is called “Accept disgrace willingly”.

What do you mean by “Accept misfortune as the human condition”?
Misfortune comes from having a body.
Without a body, how could there be misfortune?

Surrender yourself humbly; then you can be trusted to care for all things.

Love the world as your own self; then you can truly care for all things.


Lao Tsu, Tao Te Ching: Thirteen
Translation by Gia-Fu Feng and Jane English, 1972


Lightness is a strong theme for me these days. Based in my taiji practice, where it has become very obvious for me that the lighter I become (and feel), the more heavy and connected I feel for my practice partners. But the sense of lightness is also becoming very important for me in the way I relate to the world generally.

I increasingly have the experience that there are 2 very different approaches I can take when relating to the world. The first one connects to an image of accumulating tension. It is as if I, when I meet resistance or pain in the world, grab it and stuff it into my body – enduring the world and hiding away my discomfort and pain so no one can see it.  The other is one of letting go. It feels like taking what is stuck inside me and releasing it into the world, making me feel lighter – because there is less of me.

This feeling of lightness and spaciousness is increasingly important to me. And the world feels incredibly different when I move between these states.

When I feel wrong or that something or someone “out there” is wrong my embodied sense is that I am very much inside myself – often to a degree where I become insensitive of my surroundings in a very concrete way. I simply don’t take other people in and it seems that I become quite unable to empathize.

I have quite vivid memories of the times where I have managed to reveal my stuckness or tension and how liberating it feels at an embodies level – very much like a weight being taken from me. As if the tension is brought outside of my body rather than being stuck there.

It seems true to me that unrevealed emotions can get stuck as physical tensions in our bodies and that the physical tensions that we feel often connects to the emotional experiences I have (or have had) that I am not willing to be with or feel.

When I was assisting on the London SAS hosted by Circling Europe some weeks ago, the thing that was ringing the strongest in my was this sentence:

The world is not there to be endured.

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