“I can be infinitely more relaxed than I am.” William Segal

Over the years I have come to see that what I need is not more, but less. Not effort, but letting go. Not manifestation, but acceptance. Not choosing, but allowing. Not dominance, but receptivity. It is a journey towards becoming more permeable, so that I can be touched within by something greater than myself. It goes against the grain, and for some of us, it has been a lesson that must be learned not once, but over and over. The ego is very strong. And all of this while making my way through life, taking what actions are needed to live my life. It is a long journey.

But the path towards an inner life needs to be traveled through receptivity, not passivity. Passivity leads to stasis, or if not to a complete standstill, then to endless repetition, with lawful interruptions causing the seeker to again and again repeat the same first steps.

So what is standing in my way, what is the cause of my lack of receptivity? It is a question of relaxation. In an everyday context the word calls up images of Barcaloungers, weekends off, sleeping in, bathrobes, watching a movie and so on. That is not the kind of relaxation I am speaking of.

One can see that a practice of mindfulness meditation leads to a quieting and relaxation of the mind. Thoughts arise, but the constant tension of an inner narrative comes to a stop. It is a deepening relaxation. For some of us such a practice is helpful. But one must also find the means to relax the body. The relaxation of the mind alone is not enough. To first discover, then to learn to let go of the unnecessary tensions of the body is also a practice requiring years of inquiry and diligence. Established forms such as the Alexander Technique, Feldenkrais and Hatha Yoga all can assist the acceleration of the process. For the heart, prayer is a traditional way, but for many people cultural issues are an obstacle to such a practice. Then other means are needed.

Whether with the help of such practices or of others, the lessening of tensions of the mind, body and heart is the means to becoming more available to an inner life. I am in the role of the maiden who waits patiently at the garden gate each night. But I have my own part to play, insuring that the gate into the garden is unlatched and the garden path is swept. Then, Inshallah…

For the mind, it is not ideas, but a wordless lucidity.
For the heart, it is not like and dislike, but a connection with the other.
For the body, it is not pleasure, but repose.

Be well

Comments are welcome
Forward to another, if you think it felicitous




  1. Wow I’ve forgotten Bills way of simply gives us simple way of looking at the world.

  2. It’s true. The book of his essays and interviews, Openings, is a treasure. The quote is from there. Thanks, Tom.

  3. I am still trying to hold fast your reflections on Remorse! My mind so often focuses on how deeply racist we are in our country. Is it innate? Are we born with this? I think not. Our eyes often see new activities, read new thoughts, and we make judgments about whether we like it or not. But we see a person who looks different–be black or Asian or Indian, we don’t accept. We avoid. As you point out it has been that way every since the white man came to this land. It continues and became so much worse when we brought the African man and woman to our land against their will and made them slaves.
    But writing about it doesn’t change it. We need to talk to one another; we need to verbalize, without judgement but verbalize our thinking and share each other’s thinking and consider how unfair it is to make judgments based on color of skin. How do we facilitate these conversations? How? When?

  4. Well, I don’t think I could possibly add any more or say it in any way better than you did, Mitzi. It is the work for each and every one of us. First, I think by beginning with our own areas of blindness. So much to see about my own actions and thoughts, and my own inactions, as well. Thanks so very much.

  5. Thank you, Dennis. So much more to say, but for now, I wanted you to know how much I appreciate these posts.

  6. I am very glad to hear that, Susan. Be well.

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