Posts Tagged ‘Balance’

Stand Up or Stand Out?

April 26, 2013 Leave a comment

Yesterday I posted a comment on Rosemary’s message from The Divine Feminine about living into the greater vision the Universe has in mind for us. And I challenged you and me to “stand up” and live that bigger vision, no matter how scary it might be!

Then I came across a story in an old favorite little book by Thomas Merton, The Way of Chuang Tzu, that I’m re-reading to refresh my mind and spirit about the Way, the Tao that Chuang Tzu so eloquently and deeply explored. Here is that story, The Man with One Foot and the Marsh Pheasant. I believe it speaks loudly to this theme of living into a greater vision of ourselves:

Kung Wen Hsien saw a maimed official
Whose left foot had been cut off–
A penalty in the political game!

“What kind of man,” he cried, “is this one-footed oddity?
How did he get that way? Shall we say
Man did this, or heaven?”

“Heaven,” he said, “this comes from
Heaven, not from man.
When heaven gave this man life, it willed
He should stand out from others
And sent him into politics
To get himself distinguished.
See! One foot! This man is

The little marsh pheasant
Must hop ten times
To get a bite of grain.

She must run a hundred steps
Before she takes a sip of water.
Yet she does not ask
To be kept in a hen run
Though she might have all she desired
Set before her.

She would rather run
And seek her own little living

As is so often the case with these stories from Taoism or Zen Buddhism, there is no clear cut moral to the story! On the surface we seem to hear that the Man with One Foot lived up to his charge from heaven – to “stand out.” But perhaps he over-reached his destiny, the “vision the Universe had in mind for him”! (Maybe this is a simple commentary on the “political game” as it was played then—a more dangerous one than today’s!).

Then there is the comparative lesson of the little marsh pheasant who sought her “little living uncaged.” I can presume that she is living in accordance with heaven’s will, nature’s choice. So often these Taoist stories urge a natural way of life, to go with the flow of the Tao.

For me the point of this story is not at all contradictory with the message from The Divine Feminine. The Universe (heaven) has big plans for us. We are standing on the backs of several thousand generations of human ancestry not to live small, to live caged, to live unnaturally with one foot. We are to stand up, not out. And yet, even if we are to lose a foot to the greater cause of living into our vision, is that too much?

There is a polarity to this story that seems to call for balance. We are called to stand up, but not out. We are called to live free as nature intended. And yet we are “called” by the Universe to live big. The story presents us with contrasts, the duality we so often face in daily routine. There is no right or wrong in this story of opposites. The story presents both sides. This complimentary nature of the Tao is a favorite theme of Chuang Tzu. And as Lao Tzu says in the Taoteching, Chapter 2:

All the world knows good
But if that becomes good
This becomes bad.

Follow your nature. And follow the Universe’s call. Stand up and be counted. And yes, there will be both good and bad consequences when you do. The “free” choice is yours!

What do you make of Chuang Tzu’s story?


Monday’s Poem: Consensus Reality?

March 18, 2013 Leave a comment

With the Spring Equinox coming this week my mind is on balance. I selected this poem for eqinox-Monday in a wistful recall of what once was “fair and balanced”!

Consensus Reality?

Perception is reality.
Mine or yours?
Consensus seems quite thin
These days.
Who’s right, who’s up, who’s in?

Adjustment is needed now.
Ours or theirs?
Who’s ready to give in
These days?
Not us, not them, no win.

Balance seems a thing long gone;
Fairness need not apply.
Maat is sorely stressed
These days.
Consensus fails the test!

©2013 Richard W. Bredeson. All rights reserved.

Are You the Rose or the Thorn? – Richard’s Commentary

March 7, 2013 Leave a comment

I write this on a nasty, stormy day here in the East – blame storm “Saturn” for it. In Annapolis we were fortunate enough to get nothing but rain and a little wind, nothing too damaging. Oh, there was an overturned semi-tractor-trailer on the Bay Bridge which shut down both spans in both directions. This is a major headache for traffic in this area and it ties up roadways for miles and hours. I’m sure a few thorns came out for people today!

I felt a bit prickly myself. It is a very busy week for me working to get class material finalized and assembled for Rosemary, helping to set up presentations and making sure I am ready to video record the whole class, working on my own practices including preparation for Qigong Instructor Certification this Saturday, and keeping up with the normal routine.

And with the storm shutting down schools and work for the anticipated snow the house was full of people today with many pulls on attention and energy. The energy, in fact, swirled at times beyond the normal boundaries and out of control. My Qi was disturbed.

I am working hard to keep my calm, to smooth out my Qi, to remain in flow and let go of all the little things that can too often ruffle my feathers. And yet my thorns came out! In some sense these thorns were for protection, not necessarily of my beautiful inner rose, but of my time, my priorities, my space, my practice, my, my, my…

But is this why the rose has thorns, to hide her flower. I don’t think so. The rose displays her beauty for all to see. Her light shines on everyone. She opens her softness to reveal that light and inner beauty. All she asks in return is a small amount of space. Her thorns protect that space. Yes, they are sharp but they only stick in a little bit, only as a warning not to come any closer.

Too often my thorns stab too deep. I only need a little space and too often create cold distance. I need time to breathe but don’t want to breathe alone. I struggle with balance here between protection and open sharing of my light.

The advice I hear is to “be the Rose that you are and shed the thorns.” I am working on this, working on the openness. Is it always safe to do this?

Wednesday evening Rosemary and I were part of a Spiritual Exploration Group. It is a group that comes together by invitation to share deeply. It is a safe place; and many of us share very deeply about personal experiences. Everything shared stays in the room. It is easy to shed my thorns in this group. I have no fear of my space there. Can I take this feeling of safety into the outer world and share my light? Can I shed all my defenses and open my lamp-shade to let out the light?

It is time. We have moved beyond 2012 and well into the 21st Century. It is time for all of us to come into our true selves, to shine our light and to be open to the flow of the Universe. It begins inside, where the light originates. We first let go of the thorns that prick us from the inside; some call them our “demons.” Egos have thorns that keep us in line! These are good for survival, just as the rose uses her thorns to protect her space for survival. But maybe we need to move beyond basic survival needs and into the light.

We cannot transform the world with thorns. We can work toward a better world through open acceptance of our light and to shine that light through fulfilling our purpose, what Rosemary calls our “soul commitment.”

Maybe that commitment needs to be stronger than our need for protection!


The 5-Elements of the Tao

March 1, 2013 Leave a comment

I love the way the Universe works. When I can take a breath, step back and observe, I am in awe that everything works! From the micro to the macro, from above to below, there is such beauty and bliss. And I am particularly inspired by the synchronicity of it all!

I just finished my Svaroopa Yoga class with a good and long-time friend, Dharma. As always it was gentle, he is so calm and peaceful, the asanas were relatively “easy”, and I came away stretched and balanced. And I believe it felt good and easy because I’ve been practicing Qigong pretty seriously all week. Overall I feel stronger and my balance has improved! Tomorrow I am back in my long-term Qigong class where we learn about “spontaneous healing” and practice 5-Element Qigong. And to top off the week I am on my way to Baltimore on Saturday for more Level 1 Qigong Form training with Jeff Primack, founder of the Qi Revolution!

And the beauty, the synchronicity continues! I have been developing a workshop after some excellent coaching with another friend, Ken Ellis. I have been questioning for years what to present to a group of men to help us all through development of “emotional maturity”. I have been motivated by many of my teachers from Robert Bly to Martín Prechtel to Robert Moore, to name a few. An idea began to form through my 5-Element Qigong practice. Ken urged me on and drew out of me a fascinating outline for a workshop. And there my concept languished since last summer.

Very recently the true beauty of the Universe unfolded another lotus petal and synchronicity struck again. This blog, Men and The Goddess, attracted the attention of a fellow blogger, Ellis Nelson. Of course, I checked out her blog:, and there it was, her review of a book that fits my scheme beautifully: Power of the Five Elements by Charles A. Moss, MD. I read a few additional reviews, ordered it immediately and have been pouring through it since it arrived. It is a perfect fit, a companion piece to exactly what I have in mind for my workshop.

I will write my own review of Dr. Moss’ book when I’ve finished reading it thoroughly. In short this work is not only confirming my own thinking about the 5 elements, it is expanding on the material I have already gathered. Beyond helping with my workshop development, it is helping me, directly impacting on how I perceive the world and how the world perceives me! Not only has this book confirmed my element, it has pegged me in every way; it has identified my strengths and weakness, my blessings and my faults, my motivations, outlook and fears. It has had quite an impact on me.

For me this confirms the ancient wisdom embodied in the Tao. As I work with material like Dr. Moss presents, practice 5-element qigong, work with the I Ching, continue my reading of Taoist literature it all comes together to form a beautiful whole. This is becoming a true Way for me. The signs are unmistakable!

And the Way flows on and the Universe unfolds a petal at a time. My qigong practice intensifies as I begin training for certification to become a qigong teacher. All of the 5 Elements are coming together to show me the Way of all the individuals in my life. And the workshop I am developing for presentation this summer is flowering into reality.

We have entered the month of March. Here in the Northern Hemisphere signs of spring are popping up everywhere. It’s a beautiful Universe and we are all alive at an amazing time!



Old Moon-New Moon

January 11, 2013 Leave a comment

Are you feeling heavy these past few days? It feels to me as if I’m walking through a cloud with weights all over my body. No, I’m not really ill, although I do have some mild aches and pains here and there. I’ve been up, out and about taking care of others in the family who are also feeling this weight. What’s going on?

Is this the mid-winter doldrums? The post-holiday blues? The weather is actually reasonably nice here in Maryland as I write this Thursday afternoon; the Sun has been out and the temperature reached into the 50s! And yet there’s this drag to the day.

very-old-moonOh, right! The Moon is very old, dying as I write and nearly conjunct the Sun. To give you exact numbers, I am writing at 4:41 pm EST. The Moon is 8 degrees Capricorn and closing fast on the Sun at 20 degrees 49 minutes Capricorn. If you could see the Moon now it would be 1% visible, but it is so close to the Sun we can’t really see it with a naked eye (expect just before dawn on the Eastern horizon).

And as you read this (assuming you read it the moment I post it) the Moon is just now brand-new. It conjuncts the Sun exactly at 2:45:17 pm EST. And then it begins to move away from conjunction with the Sun and is born anew. Yay! We should begin to feel the lightness return. And as you look to the clear western sky at Sunset in about 3 days you’ll see the baby crescent peaking over the horizon. From there, of course, it will grow to full over the next two weeks.

I have been aware of the Moon for as long as I can remember. As a kid riding in the back of my parents’ car at night I would follow the Moon as the Moon seemed to follow us. I loved the play of peak-a-boo with the Moon as we drove. And in deep clear Wisconsin winters I would watch the phases in the brilliantly lit country sky of my youth.
And now I am acutely aware of the Moon and her phases each month (moonth). And if I forget about her, especially around this time and full Moon time, she is the first to remind me with her tug on the waters of my body. Yes, we feel the Moon just as the oceans feel her pull; we are, after all, more than half water (the human body is about 60 to 70% water!). As the tides ebb and flow with the Moon’s courses and phases so too do our bodies.

As with everything awareness is the first step in sensing, working with and balancing our inner tidal actions. Beyond tuning in to the Moon and her activities here are some things I do to work with her energy:
• For the “dying” Moon as she wanes to darkness, as we just experienced, I offer up things to her. I release emotions, I let go of limiting beliefs, I even give her little gifts, offerings to be shared with birds or other creatures. The key words are “release that which no longer serves.” And this makes room for something new to come into my life.
• Just as the Moon is new, as it is today, I cast an I Ching gua to determine what the energies coming in with the new Moon will feel like and what my preparation for and use of the energies might be.
• During the waxing phases of the Moon, from now for the next two weeks, I work with the Moon’s energies pulling in newness: fresh ideas, new beliefs, and I work with my commitments and resolutions. It’s a wonderful energetic time. “Welcome in the New.”
• And then the downward slide of the waning Moon begins again. Energies are still high and I use them, but I also begin looking toward another weak Moon and consider what I may need to purge for this next cycle.

These are my approaches. There are many ways to work with the Moon. The key is to think about this major body in our sky and how it influences the planet and us as creatures under her smile.

How does the Moon affect you? Happy New Moon!


“Tap into Your Inner Guidance” A Commentary from Richard

November 8, 2012 Leave a comment

Have you reviewed the video and commentary by Rosemary from her FREE weekly MuseLetter? I posted them over the past couple of days; if you want to receive them directly you can subscribe here. And today here are my thoughts on the support Rosemary offers for living a conscious life:

Rosemary’s Video and “Exploration” this week offer an excellent way to gain insight into our life, the direction our life is taking and even a method of acquiring that guidance, like our GPS systems acquire the satellites to help us navigate along the highways. And she makes it sound so easy, doesn’t she!

Well, for men this isn’t always the easiest thing to do. In Taoist understanding men have a lot of yang energy, active energy to go out and get things done (even if we are unsure of what it is we are to do at times!). Women have a lot of yin, passive energy to go inside, go quite and seek answers to “what is to be done” – and then to be receptive to what comes in the way of guidance. Taoists teach balance and seek balance between yin and yang energies – receiving and acting. And this is the core of Rosemary’s teaching this week.

It’s important to seek this guidance for a number of reasons; the most prominent is to be sure we are on the route of our “Soul Purpose” our raison d’être. Rosemary throws this out as a given…that we know what our Soul Purpose is, and that we seek the inner guidance to assure ourselves we are on the correct path. But sometimes what we have to seek is that Purpose itself!

Do you know your Soul Purpose? Do you know the answer to your “Big Why?”

Perhaps the answer to this question is the first one to seek inside.

In her commentary Rosemary offers a way to go inside and to get the answers to the big questions. Breathe, tune-in, stay quiet and listen. Listen for any answers, signs, symbols, that come up. Assess these. Separate out the ones that seem judgmental, are coming from ego rather than some deeper place. Note the yin approach to this inner inquiry. It often works quite well for men and women alike.

There are also yang approaches to gaining the guidance our soul urges on us. Rosemary has offered to share additional tools in future videos and commentaries. I look forward to these! Meanwhile I’ll share an approach that has worked well for me.

A number of years ago I read The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. I can say that a few books have changed my life; this is one. I follow a practice recommended by Cameron to write out three long-hand pages of text every day, preferably first thing every morning. Cameron calls these “morning pages.” This practice works for me. And it is a way for me to “tap into my inner guidance.” Note the yang, active approach to this method. The guidance comes as I empty my mind and simply write what comes. In a way it is like “following the breath” in meditation practice; I follow my pen…

There are many ways to seek inner guidance. Active, passive, with words, symbols, studying our dreams, following our breath. The key is to first quiet the mind, the ego, to do the listening, active or passive; then to trust the guidance and follow it. And this is why we call it “practice.” It’s a life-long pursuit!




PS: In addition to the many tools to tap into your inner guidance there are ways to determine and expand on your Soul Purpose. Rosemary offers an incredible and comprehensive approach to this through Scientific Hand Analysis. If you are unsure of your Big Why? check out the details on Rosemary’s Website


October 31, 2012 Leave a comment

Balance and Health; they really do go together! In the video posted yesterday, Rosemary speaks of balancing the four bodies: Spiritual, Mental, Emotional and Physical. And this is the way to health as well! So often we think of health as a well body, our physical body. The physical level may be where a symptom shows up most prominently, but how often does a dis-ease begin at another level? Here’s Rosemary on Health. I’ll be back tomorrow (Thursday) with my own commentary on Rosemary’s MuseLetter (subscribe).

I’m writing this as I sit in a doctor’s office while my daughter sees a surgeon about having her gall bladder removed.  It’s sobering to see your loved one in pain.

So I’m thinking about the pain that so many people have, every day, because their health isn’t what they would like it to be.  Not just physical health, but also emotional health, mental health, spiritual health.  It’s so important to be healthy on all levels that just focusing on the physical doesn’t lead us to the life of our dreams.

What’s the last thing you did for your emotional health?  Are you looking at your life for keys to the blocks that you are experiencing?  Have you mined the past on your personal timeline to learn the lessons of your experiences?  Are you developing new tools for your responses so your knee-jerk reaction isn’t where you get stuck when something happens in your life?

How about your mental health?  Have you examined the tapes that play in your head for their source and to decide whether to keep them playing or to change them?  Do you know what negative thoughts are popping up and keeping you from growing into the person you were meant to be?  Are you holding yourself back from your greatness because you think you can’t be great?

And your spiritual health is most important because the beliefs you hold affect all the other levels of your being.  Your beliefs affect your thoughts which generate your emotions and, finally, present as physical health problems if you haven’t cleared them.  Oftentimes, beliefs come from our childhood or our family tree or our environment [society, teachers, churches, etc.].  They have not been generated consciously but are sourced in the unconscious mind.

What do you believe about yourself?  Might there be a belief that ‘Everyone in our family gets arthritis by the time they are 50’?  How about ‘No one from this neighborhood gets to go to college’?  These unconscious beliefs operate to restrict us whether we are aware of them or not.  Have you examined what you believe and made a conscious choice about holding onto that belief or releasing it?

At the physical level, you must choose to live in balance with all of your other levels.  Are you eating in a way that matches your beliefs about food and its sources?  Are you making physical choices based on unconscious emotions or thoughts that conflict with what is best for you?  Do you ask yourself questions about your life and its balance when something presents as out of balance?

Many people can look at stress in their life and see the imbalance that is caused there.  Too many believe that they can’t do anything about stress.  But what they are really saying is that they don’t know what to do about the stress that they can’t change.

Things happen.  We react.  Then we choose our response to the event.  That’s what life is.

And if we can’t change the things that happen, then we have to look at our reactions and our responses.  This is the first place to build up our took kit so that we can live a conscious life and choose wisely our responses to events.  This FOLLOWS doing all the other work to bring our beliefs, thoughts, emotions into balance.

When I spend a Muse Day with a client, where we have a whole day together to clear blocks and make plans, we often spend most of the day on the clearing blocks part of the agenda, checking in on the spiritual, mental and emotional levels.  Creating a plan for the actions to take in the physical plan is often the easiest and quickest part of the day because we’ve brought every thing else into balance before we start the planning.

Trying to plan without the balance brings frustration and much harder work.  Trying to deal with dis-ease without finding the source of the imbalance makes the task much more difficult, if not impossible.

Our daughter will be fine.  She’s been working through many levels of what is happening.  I’m sorry she’s going through the proverbial ‘2 by 4 to the head’ experience but haven’t we all had some of those?  We learn!

And I hope that you, too, will examine the levels of your being for where imbalances live.  Clearing those can really help you move the pain out of your life!

PS: Halloween, All Saints Day, Day of the Dead…they are here! And to take advantage of this time, when the veil between this world and the next is the thinnest, Rosemary hosts a Conversation with The Other Side! Friday Evening, November 2, 2012. You are invited! Deails Here