Conscious in Every Moment

cc image by therichardlife on Flickr

cc image by therichardlife on Flickr

Reflections on Chapter 28 of the Tao Te Ching:

To know one’s strength,
stay passive.

Be a valley beneath Heaven.
Constant virtue
never diminishing,

The eternal river returns again
to one’s childlike innocence.

Know your purity,
But stay open to your darkness.
Be a pattern for the world,
ancient virtue never failing,

Returns to a place
of unlimited perfection.

Know your glory,
But maintain humility.
Become a valley
below Heaven.

The world’s valley –
always virtuous,

Returns to the simplicity
of uncarved wood.

Carved wood
becomes useful tools.

Great leaders use the tools
without carving the wood.

This chapter is about flexibility.

In Tai Chi, we learn that you should never overextend. In Tai Chi, if you overextend yourself the other person is easily able to pull you off your center. Lao Tzu refers to this principle a lot. He talks about holding to your center and not overextending. It works on a physical sense, with martial arts, but it also works in the way that you live your life. How do you extend yourself?

It’s easy not to overextend yourself when you are not feeling very confident. We tend to hold it in during these times. But, in your moments of confidence, how are you being with yourself in your moments of excellence? That is the where people sometimes have more challenges. It feels good to be at the top of your game and we just want to keep it going.


I started doing yoga again recently. I just got this book called Light on Yoga. The book has all these postures and it has been years since I have really practiced yoga, so I decided to incorporate it into my morning routine. It was very interesting to read his little instructions with each pose. The pictures, by themselves, are phenomenal. It’s a huge book and he must list nearly every yoga pose in it. I thought that I would just start at the beginning and just do 2 or 3. The detail for each pose was quite amazing. When you are standing, you put your toes and your heels together, your knees are supposed to be lifted, your chin up. This is just standing up straight – the first posture! So I was doing this posture and I was aware of the weight distribution and trying to be aware of all these things. That is one of the things that I find so beautiful about the martial arts too. Yoga is kind of in that same vein. It is really about being as conscious about yourself as you can. It’s not about being perfect, because nobody is perfect at that! Nobody. But just continuously being as conscious as you can – a continuous state of consciousness.

This chapter, in particular, focuses on this. That is what he is talking about. It is not just about observing yourself when you have problems. You also need to be observing yourself when you have wins. We forget ourselves. My husband and I were having dinner in a restaurant and the TV was on near our table. We don’t normally watch the TVs there, but there was this countdown show for celebrated moments that went wrong. It was all about people who celebrated before it was the right time. They celebrated and then they lost, or they celebrated and then something happened that made them look silly. It was a funny show because it was just like what this chapter is talking about. You need to be always aware of the opposite that is there. It goes on both sides – when you feeling like  you are losing, there is always potential there for you to win. When you are winning, there is always potential for there to be a loss. It’s really about that and being conscious of what you are bringing to the table with that.

So how do you overextend yourself sometimes? In what ways should you be extending yourself more?  Please share your comments in the space below!

This post is part of my contribution to the Ultimate Blog Challenge. If you are part of that challenge, please say hello and I will check out your blog as well! If you are a blogger and are not a part of the challenge, it is worth a look! It’s a great opportunity to share and be shared.

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8 Comments

  1. How serendipitous that you covered this Chapter today. Minette (a fellow UBC member) posed the question about responsibility (blessing or curse) in her blog today (http://www.bydesignforwomen.com/index.php/is-responsibility-a-blessing-or-a-curse/#comment-690). Two sides of the same coin in many ways.

    It’s funny, I find it easier to keep balance when I’m challenged and reaching. I tend to overextend myself more when I’m not feeling very confident (perhaps I’m not as efficient with my time during those periods and certainly can struggle with motivation when life is off).
    Nanette Levin recently posted…Move over Andy Rooney – here’s a rant you could have pennedMy Profile

  2. That is a very interesting way to look at it! Yes! I do that too (overextend when feeling lack of confidence). Creating busy-ness to mask the insecurity. Overextending my life. A very good point there. I also love being challenged and reaching (for the stars!). Thanks for the comment, Nanette!

  3. I checked out Minette’s blog. Thanks for that, Nanette! When I wrote the bit about overextending, I was thinking more in the sense of being overly confident or making assumptions that, when something is going well, that you just want it to keep going and going and so you overextend and it flops. The overextending that you and Minette are talking about is a different one, but equally unbalancing!

    With regards to responsibility, overextending yourself is reaching out to others and being responsible for them. That puts you off your center as well. We ever really can only be responsible for our own lives. That is the only area where we have any control whatsoever! Being responsible for ourselves feels good and right because it is. We are strong when we are responsible for our own lives and we recognize it.

    When we are “responsible” for others, it has this edge to it. The blame game starts. Control issues come up. If I am going to be responsible for you, then you are giving me some control and you will resent me for it, right? Either that or you will give your power over to me and is that really what either of us wants?

  4. Stay open to the darkness. What a lovely line that is.

    How do I overextend myself? By not getting enough sleep, I think. I go-go-go until one day, all I can do is nap-nap-nap. 😀
    Arwen recently posted…Past, Future & PerfectMy Profile

    • We are so on the same wavelength, Stephanie! I was just thinking this morning about how I don’t get enough sleep. There is just SOOO much that I want to do in this life and sleep just seems so dull!

  5. Great post Amy. One of the ways I often over extend myself is in being a cheerleader for others. Like with this blog challenge. I started out reading and sharing so many posts every day. When I looked at how much time it took and realized that I was sabotaging my own work load, I backed off and just follow a select few. I fall into that pattern often. However, I am becoming more aware of it and nip it in the bud, usually quicker than I’ve done here.
    Julia Neiman recently posted…Appreciate Failure: It Can Be Your SalvationMy Profile

    • That is a great realization, Julia! I think that a lot of people did that. I know that I did. I do try to get out there and comment at least one or two every day but there are SO MANY blogs in this challenge! Only three more days. But then what? I am going to try and keep blogging daily. This has been so good for me. When school starts, I may back off a bit since I will be in my carpooling state, but I still want to keep it current.

  6. Pingback: 28 – Uncarved Wood

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