I am delighted to share another beautiful submission to the Monk in the World guest post series from the community. This one comes from Melinda Emily Thomas, Administrative Assistant for Abbey of the Arts, whose new book, Sacred Balance: Aligning Body and Spirit Through Yoga and the Benedictine Way, published by Broadleaf Books will be released October 13th. Studded with illustrations of basic yoga poses and ideas for wellness, prayers, and meditations, this book offers principles and practices that guide us toward peace and wholeness.
“In the earliest days of grade school we learn our primary colors: red, yellow, blue. Then the secondary colors: green, violet, orange. Next we learn that the primary and secondary colors complement each other: red and green, yellow and violet, blue and orange. Placed next to each other, complementary colors each enhance the hue of the other, creating a sense of equanimity. Color is waves of light. Modern physics has shown that light is both a particle and a wave—steadiness and movement. The equanimity we feel when complementary colors are next to each other is the resonance of particles and waves in harmonious action.
We often envision balance in terms of a balance beam scale—one of those old-time scales with the single horizontal beam from which two trays hang. When the objects in each tray are of equal weight, the scale is in balance. While this may be true for purposes of measurement, it is unhelpful and perhaps even harmful to think of balanced living in terms of a scale. When we conceptualize balance in this way, we risk stasis and perfectionism. Life is not static. We are always growing and changing in response to circumstances and relationships. Perfection is an insidious and unattainable goal, defined by subjective externals, rather than an enthusiastic exploration of the fullness of our humanity.
Instead, I prefer to think of balance in terms of color theory. Harmony and wellbeing is found when the particles and waves—the steadiness and the motion—of our lives amplify or counteract each other. Balanced living is not found in the mere elimination of one color or the addition of another. Balanced living is found in the conversation between the color that is already there. It is the dialogue that matters.
When we feel overexcited, overworked, worn down, or depleted, we know something is out of whack. Some part of our daily routine is dominating the conversation. All too often the stresses of life—the demands of work and family, the bombardment of media, the countless messages about being more successful or productive—drown out the quieting voice of the heart longing to be heard. Sacred balance is restored through practices that promote an interior and exterior orientation toward God—the Ground of Being from which health and wellness springs. The interior orientation includes our priorities, attitudes, and values, which drive our external actions. Our external actions nurture and grow our healthy inner selves. We cannot have one without the other.
I see Benedictine spirituality and yoga as complementary colors, each with its own hue and vibrance.”
Inspired by Christine's book events, Melinda will be holding a virtual launch on Saturday, October 17th from 10-11am via Zoom. Register for the launch here. (Space is limited.) Cultivate balance through a lovely asana and meditation practice inspired by the book, followed by discussion and Q & A. If you’re willing, she'd love for you to briefly share how you practice balance.
Melinda Emily Thomas is the Administrative Assistant for Abbey of the Arts. She is a writer and yoga instructor living in North Carolina. Her first book, Sacred Balance: Aligning Body and Spirit Through Yoga and the Benedictine Way, will be released October 13th. Visit her at TheHouseHoldersPath.com