Integrity Check

I often run an I-Ching check when I have difficulty finding my center. I have used this ancient Chinese system of divination all my life, and it always amazes me how spot on each hexagram is. Gathered in a system of 64 hexagrams (broken and whole lines) each number represents a stage in the cycle of evolution. It is fascinating that with all oracles you always draw what you need to hear, see, feel and experience.

Recently, I have been down in the gutter – so I needed some reinforcement from above. I drew out the hexagram 43 – a symbol for resoluteness, integrity and self-examination. It occurred to me that indeed personal integrity is always the sum of determination, uncompromised trust, unwavering focus and inner resolve.

The I-Ching taught me that however many rivers you have already crossed, a time will arrive when your tenacity and inner resolve are again put to test. I feel this whole year was like that for me. Along with the blessings I received, I was thrown on the edge – having to face all my fears and readjust to my new life. Everything that I was, did and intended to do was put to test. I felt disheartened and exhausted and my sense of progress was destroyed. I felt as if I was in a confrontation with a brick wall, as the hurdles that seemed insignificant before, appeared insurmountable now. The tension was exacerbated by weakened resolve and the fear of making foolish decisions that undermined what had been accomplished.

When you find yourself in a crisis, when everything seems at the point of breakdown, avoid reacting aggressively, getting defensive or trying to combat the problems headon. There is nothing to confront, but the inner fear that blocks the entire flow. Like being caught in quicksand, the more you struggle, the more you’ll be sucked in. Surviving difficult challenges depends on our ability to stay centered, focused, and as calm as possible. Reacting emotionally to a crisis will only compound the difficulties.

The I-Ching insight reminded me to be firm, yet flexible and work steadily to resolve the situation. It may take a good deal more time and energy than you expected, but adopting a non-dogmatic approach and keeping things into perspective is the right solution.

Trying to restore harmony and at the same time avoid extremes of attitude and behavior can feel like taming wild animals that are running in very direction at once Nevertheless, what is really at issue is more subtle than you thing. Can you remain uncompromisingly focused on your goal? The hexagram I drew urged me to take time to examine what had been motivating me, and weed out any half truths or grandiose and egoistic ideas that had been harboring. Looking at the quickest way out of a bad situation isn’t necessarily going to help, and may actually divert you from the step by step work of taking responsibility for your actions. I realized that any halfhearted-ness would weaken my credibility and would eventually create mistrust in others. Feigning aloofness, making a show of strength or any other face-saving ploys weren’t going to help, either: I would just look foolish and would still have to deal with the real challenges.

So I changed course of action. Instead of pitying myself for the situation that I had to face and playing the victim, I reverted to playing the creator. I got creative, playful happy and stayed alert, while plotting a course through the minefield of difficulties. Only by deeply trusting myself and the power of intuitive guidance could a find a resolution. And this is what I did. Even when I disagreed with what others had to say, I did not react or argue, put stayed open to hear them out.

When a breakthrough seems imminent remember to be alert. The real movement of resolution will become apparent in due course; it cannot be forced. Resoluteness requires a detachment, patience, and unwavering purpose. Being flexible enough to move with the changes without compromising your vision is the key to success.

I still see the image of the 43rd hexagram imprinted in my mind’s eye. It was the face of Bodhidharma, the sage who carried the teachings of Budha from India across the Himalays to China. For me this image portrays the uncompromising integrity and absolute focus that is possible when we are deeply rooted in out truth. Thanks to Bodhidharma’s tenacity and strength of character, he finally reached his goal, and Buddhism took hold and spread throughout the East. This is resoluteness – an unwavering quality that makes it possible to endure all kinds of mental and physical hardships, external pressures or emotional intrigues, wherever they arise on your path.

I took the I-Ching wisdom to heart and I paused and reconsidered what was really required before attempting to take anything more. I felt I had overestimated my capacity and at the same time I underestimated what I really needed. I cut my involvement in too many things considerably. I knew that pushing ahead would only create further problems. I became aware of all the self-defeating patters n my character and all the difficult decisions I was facing sorted themselves out. Today, I am no longer stubbornly pushing forward. I have let go of my ironclad attachment to a particular approach and have opened to the suggestions of others. I have honed the subtle art of listening. My energy is no longer drained, and my inner resolve is back on track. I feed integrated and whole.

Check in with yourself and share this wholeness with me in this well-rounded routine. It feels so good to be back to life, back to “expanded” reality!

Well-rounded Yoga Routine: Integrity Check (open level)

Like a rainbow, this fast-paced routine contains the full spectrum of poses to promote a feeling of wholeness and integrity. A seated meditation brings the focus and paves your way into a fluid warm up that combines core work, arm extensions and hip openers. A series of standing poses facilitated through soothing weight shifts strengthen, tone and stabilize the base, while bringing the feeling of advancing and retreating, until you find the center and root into the heart of your being. Invigorating backbends go hand in hand with gentle inversions. Calming forward bends lead to deeper hip stretches and culminate in reclining bound twists to elicit the relaxation response while remove excess stuff from the physical and emotional plane. A colorful mix of seated and prostrated poses, create a sense of grounding and surrender lending to a nourishing relaxation, that lands you in the middle ground between then and now.

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