What I have witnessed and come to understand through Taoism is that the mind and body, though independent of each other, operate as one. Any change in mind or body—positive or negative—shifts their internal relationship. If you make changes only to one, the other will be triggered into maintaining the status quo. Of course, it does. Biologically, maintaining the status quo is tantamount to survival. Creating change—stepping into your strength—is a committed, multidimensional balancing act between a relaxed mind and a strong body. And for all our good intentions, the hypercompetitive mentality of the West may value a strong body, but it makes a relaxed mind almost impossible.
Tao is a way of being. Its thought recognizes balance as a life-sustaining necessity for all life forms. There is no supremacy outside you that is responsible for your own state of being. BodyLogos practice shifts your state of being from a competitive Western fitness mentality to one of relaxed strength.
Being relaxed is a calmed-down, released state of being. Strength is a built-up possession of power. To possess relaxed strength, we are asked to stretch through the full gamut of movement and emotion so we become comfortable in any interval of our life experience. This stretch between opposites is described in the theory of yin and yang.
While the theory of yin and yang defines universal elements, the five-element theory explains the relationship between them. The ancient Taoists devised it as a systematic understanding of balance between complementary and antagonistic forces in the universe. Tao sages understood that the universe maintained balance through the cyclical interplay of five elements: fire, earth, metal, water, and wood. They believed our bodies were a microcosm of the universe, achieving physical and mental harmony in the same way.
Let’s recognize an isolated muscle group as an isolated element. Any isolated muscular release (yin) is balanced by an opposing muscular contraction (yang). For example, when your hamstrings release, their opposing muscle group, the quadriceps, contract. Visualize these two forces as an uninterrupted orbit of energy. This energy orbit cycles the releasing muscles’ force into the contracting muscles’ force, creating greater strength. When this muscular isolation extends its orbit of energy and includes the energy orbits of the whole body (five-element theory), it unifies the body to support that isolation.
In the beginning of my BodyLogos journey, I experienced dance as orbits of force cycling from my body’s center of gravity and balancing my muscular effort—the same center of gravity that aligns my bones between earth and sky. The more I “cycle energy,” the more I realize that what I’m channeling goes far beyond my musculoskeletal system, beyond my body’s ability and mind’s cognition. Cycling energy supports the relationships that sculpt my entire life. I now experience strength as the ability to deliberately create change in my life, relationships, and world.
It is a Tao belief that by connecting to the universe, we experience the intelligence—Logos—of spirit and are guided toward our own spirit selves. As a minister of Tao, I am convinced that this connection can be made through our relationship with nature’s universal forces—gravity and centrifugal and centripetal forces. Our physical posture is the conduit that establishes the quality of this connection. To align with universal forces is to inadvertently align with our selves. The more aligned we are outwardly, the more aligned we are inwardly. Everything we need to know can be found within our alliance with nature.
After seminary, the same energy that had aligned my body in dance was now aligning my mind in life. When my alignment had deliberate intent, I could witness my own suffering and the suffering of others from an expanded viewpoint, whereby I could step beyond blame and shame. I was able to step outside the bubble of my mental and physical suffering on purpose rather than by accident. Before my Tao training, this viewpoint seemed intuitive rather than intentional—by chance, not by design. In seminary, however, I learned that there actually was something tangible informing my impressions.
I learned that the body is a victim of the mind’s constant scrutiny. It’s as if there is a war going on within the confines of our bodies, questioning and defending our value in the world at large, exhausting our strength. Expectations to be better than we are assault the body from the inside out. Tao thought expresses the danger of the mind’s skirmish for importance.
If you let yourself be blown to and fro,
You lose touch with your root.
If you let restlessness move you,
You lose touch with who you are.
—Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching
Like your fingerprint, your posture is the only one of its kind. In witnessing what your posture is doing, you become aware of the conscious and unconscious aspects of your body print. And by purposely creating balance in your alignment, you can deliberately sculpt balance in your life.
I am asking you to consider your body as a blueprint of your life story and a vessel of spiritual significance. Tao thought warns that the noisy fretting of mind-body mortality drowns the more subtle nature of spirit out. And the more deaf to spirit you become, the more tension accumulates mentally and physically. The separation disperses your energy, and you are left feeling powerless. When this happens, your body experiences the defensive tension of a victim, your mind experiences the assaultive judgment of a perpetrator, and the spirit becomes the unheard bystander of your internal ambivalence.
It’s my mission to keep you connected to why you are challenging yourself in the gym, because the significance of that why energizes your relationship with life. The journey of aligning with your personal why takes the courage to recognize personal weakness and allow interpersonal uncertainty. BodyLogos trains you to realize your truth and stand in your life wholly—holistically. Rather than being triggered into victimhood, be triggered toward self-discovery. This is relaxed strength.