Be Steady, Not Rigid
firm, but willing to sway
“Be steady not rigid” -Ross Rayburn.
Be steady, not rigid was the theme of a short online yoga session I did this week. It captured my attention through the practice, and it’s stayed with me in the days following. Apparently, there is some wisdom in comparing and contrasting ideas, just like we learned in elementary school.
What does it mean to be steady and not rigid? The dictionary tells us steady is “firmly fixed, stable, supported and balanced.” Rigid is “unable to bend, not flexible, unyielding.”
In yoga, rigidity isn’t the goal, and it’s not even helpful. Yoga requires steadiness, which comes from “pulling in towards the mid-line.” It’s the idea that when we focus on the literal center of our body, the result is a balanced and supported posture. When we focus on being rigid, we might achieve the pose, but it has come from a different root and is harder to maintain. The results might look the same; think about a tree pose-balancing on one foot with the other just above the knee with the knee bent outward. A steady tree pose was built with intention. The balancing foot is facing forward, the other leg is slowly lifted with intention, the foot is balanced just above the knee, hands slowly lifted above the head with palms together. A rigid tree pose might look the same. Still, the animating energy would be overpowering the rest of the body to unyielding hold a pose. It’s tough to rigidly hold a tree pose. A steady tree pose is firm but willing to sway to maintain steadiness through movement and breathing.
Steady, not rigid, feels like a timely invitation not just in yoga but in life. How do I be steady-gentle, focused, balanced, not shaking and not rigid-stiff, unyielding, unable to bend in life?
Steady implies small steps forward, not fast, not overpowering, just step by step, with an essence of grace and positive expectancy.
Rigidity feels more overpowering, unyielding, rough, and severe.
Steady feels graceful, aware of movement and change, and yet finds a way to stay anchored in the changing flow.
Rigidity feels like an unmoving stance, lacking grace, anchored in what is past. Something rigid is unable to bend.
Steadiness and rigidity can look the same, but the energy underneath, the beliefs that guide, the anchor that holds them come from a different source. Our world needs steady, balanced people anchored to the center, firm, and rooted. We need people who are steady in their values and character and able to bend and sway when people need grace and support in a new way.
Love is steady, not rigid.
A Blessing For Steadiness
May you be steady, not rigid. May you be rooted and deeply centered. May you be able to bend and sway and hold to love. Love that is patient, kind, not centered on what is best for one, but what is best for all. May you be rooted like a tree that sways to maintain its steadiness; holding firm in the center, but branches and leaves dancing with the wind.
Be steady, not rigid.
Try a short yoga practice, or spend a few minutes watching a tree, bush, or even a small plant sway in the wind. What does it reveal to you about being steady, not rigid?
I was thinking about any books I’ve read over the past few years that are “steady not rigid” books. The three books by Father Greg Boyle, the founder of Homeboy and Homegirl Industries, about his work with gang members in Los Angeles, ARE all about the transforming power of steadiness and not rigidity. Father Boyle is a steady, not rigid presence in the lives of the men and women he shepherds.
Tatoos on the Heart: The Boundless Power of Compassion
Barking to the Choir: The Power of Radical Kinship
The Whole Language: The Power of Extravegant Tenderness
“Close both eyes see with the other one. Then we are no longer saddled by the burden of our persistent judgments our ceaseless withholding our constant exclusion. Our sphere has widened and we find ourselves quite unexpectedly in a new expansive location in a place of endless acceptance and infinite love.”
― Gregory Boyle, Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion
“Human beings are settlers, but not in the pioneer sense. It is our human occupational hazard to settle for little. We settle for purity and piety when we are being invited to an exquisite holiness. We settle for the fear-driven when love longs to be our engine. We settle for a puny, vindictive God when we are being nudged always closer to this wildly inclusive, larger-than-any-life God. We allow our sense of God to atrophy. We settle for the illusion of separation when we are endlessly asked to enter into kinship with all.”
― Gregory Boyle, Barking to the Choir: The Power of Radical Kinship
Some words and ideas that might help you think about steadiness in new ways.
What words sparkle?
What new ideas form?
“You are like an ocean: quietly ebbing and flowing to the rhythm of life, but wildly expansive and profoundly powerful. You are boundless. You are whole. Your quietness is your strength. Your depth is your advantage.”
― Aletheia Luna
“Half of me is filled with bursting words and half of me is painfully shy. I crave solitude yet also crave people. I want to pour life and love into everything yet also nurture my self-care and go gently. I want to live within the rush of primal, intuitive decision, yet also wish to sit and contemplate. This is the messiness of life - that we all carry multitudes, so must sit with the shifts. We are complicated creatures, and ultimately, the balance comes from this understanding. Be water. Flowing, flexible and soft. Subtly powerful and open. Wild and serene. Able to accept all changes, yet still led by the pull of steady tides. It is enough.”
― Victoria Erickson
The main thing, Ruby said, was not to get ahead of yourself. Go at a rhythm that could be sustained on and on. Do just as much as you could do and still be able to get up and do again tomorrow. No more, and no less.”
― Charles Frazier
“So stay true to your own nature. If you like to do things in a slow and steady way, don’t let others make you feel as if you have to race. If you enjoy depth, don’t force yourself to seek breadth. If you prefer single-tasking to multi-tasking, stick to your guns. Being relatively unmoved by rewards gives you the incalculable power to go your own way.”
— Susan Cain