by Kara-Leah Grant
In the novel I have just finished reading (and highly recommend) – People of the Weeping Eye by W. Michael Gear and Kathleen O’Neal Gear, one of the main characters is a “Contrary”.
She goes by the name of Two Petals, and ever since her mother died, has had trouble staying grounded in reality. She hears voices, sees visions, and is overwhelmed in crowds because she connects with every single person’s soul.
What makes Two Petals a Contrary is that everything is also backwards for her.
She talks opposite to what she means. When something great is about to happen, she talks about how awful it will be. When you want her to leave the room, you must tell her to stay put. She is a challenge for anyone who comes across her, until they begin to understand how she works. But Two Petals is also possessed with great power (she kills a man just with her breath), or, as the story puts it, Great Power possesses her.
I was reminded of Two Petals yesterday at yoga class as I held my class in plank for five breaths. Plank asks us to draw upon our inner strength. We are asked to hover an arms length above the ground in a flat position like a piece of two by four. It’s the pose where people sag through the lumbar spine, or through the shoulders.
When I cue this posture though, I’m not asked my students to lift up, or to hold them selves up either. What makes this posture works – how you can feel like you can float in it forever – is by pushing DOWN.
In effect, doing the opposite action that is required. It’s Contrary.
When we push down through our hands, and back through our heels, we also squeeze our inner shoulder blades together down towards the tailbone, which is lengthened and tucked under. These downward forces pressing into the earth trigger a response – an equal and opposite force which reverberates up and holds us effortlessly in the pose.
Try it for yourself. Get yourself into plank pose and experiment. First try holding the posture by focusing on lifting everything up. Then try holding the posture by grounding down. See which one feels better, and which one accesses the power you need to hold the pose.
This method of accessing lift holds true for ALL the arm balances. We access prana and power when we press down into the earth and feel ourselves lifted up to the sky. Without the ability to press down, to connect to the earth, we are unable to reach for the sky. To go up, we must first go down, and this generates the power necessary.
It’s like turning on a switch.
This concept – let’s call it the Contrary Concept for fun – reminded me of Hillary Rubin’s story. It took an adverse event for her to access her inner power and create the life she has now, with the gifts that she has to offer other people.
It makes me think of my own life, and the adverse events I have faced which caused me to discover my own sources of internal power.
And it made me think of the way we treat each other – judging those who do wrong, pushing them away from us, being upset at them, condemning them.
When we separate ourselves out from those who hurt us, we do so in an effort to protect ourselves, and to condemn those who would cause us pain. We want them to know that their behaviour is unacceptable.
But have we got it all upside down and inside out?
Are we missing great opportunities to access our internal power when we lock up, cut off and kick out those who would seek to hurt us?
Surely what people who have chosen to walk this path at this time need is the opposite of what we THINK they need. Or as a great teacher once put it, when a man slaps your cheek, turn your face so he can slap the other one.
I can hear the sputters of indignation right now. “Forget it! That person has done wrong, he’s maimed killed stolen drugged. Lock him up and throw away the key. Forget turning the other cheek.”
Yet… what if people who do “bad” are offering us an opportunity to access our inner power?
Because it takes GREAT inner power to be able to turn the other cheek and absorb the pain of another individual lashing out, and still be able to respond with love and compassion.
It takes far more power to be able to do this than it does to condemn and judge.
We’ve been locking people up for centuries now – yet still the same drama plays out over and over. Perhaps it’s time for us to shift our response from trying to control other people’s behaviour so that we don’t have our homes robbed family murdered friends raped and instead ask ourselves how can we use these situations to access our internal power.
See them as opportunities to transform our lives.
Do the opposite of what we’ve always done.
And then, via seeing adverse events in this manner, we might discover that these events and people have been there to serve a purpose and it’s we who have squandered opportunity after opportunity after opportunity to transform ourselves from the inside out. It’s we who have squandered our opportunities access the great reservoirs of internal power that lie within each and every one of us.
Not the power to control and condemn.
But the power to absorb and transform.
Just as in plank pose we press down into the Earth, and transform the pushing into lifting.
In doing so, we might be amazed to discover that our internal transformation leaks out and touches everyone we come in contact with… and the number of people who are walking paths which adversely affect others begins to drop.
More love, more compassion.
Can’t hurt to give it a go.
After all, is anything else working?
The worse that could happen is that our internal transformation has no effect whatsoever on the rest of the world. (Yeah right!)
But we’d still be in that place of transformation and power. 🙂
So today as you go about your day, ponder upon the Contrary Concept, pushing down when you want to go up or letting go when you want to hold on.
Where can you apply it in your life?
How can you make it work for you?
One example that springs to mind: To make money, one doesn’t focus on thinking about how to get money as such, but instead turns it upside down and thinks, what do I have of value that I can give to the world? And in the offering of value, abundance flows into one’s life.
This is the Contrary Concept.
What other examples can you think of?