The Big Picture


Do you sometimes lose sight of the “Big Picture?”

Me too. So this week, I’m sharing some of my thoughts on how to get that feeling of purposefulness and centeredness back.

As one of my favorite Yoga teachers, Peter Francyk, likes to say, the part of your mind that got you into this mess is not the part of the mind that can help you out of it. (He also likes to remind us that our mind itself is usually the most toxic substance in the room, at any given time.) So one of the best things that any of us can do, when we lose sight of the Big Picture, is to get out into the biggest picture – nature itself.

Take a walk. Get out into nature. Practice some gentle Yoga. Be around the things you LOVE.

If you’re choosing Yoga, the kind of Yoga you choose makes a difference. As you probably know, my approach to the practice of Yoga is more therapeutic, less “fitness” oriented. Although Yoga definitely improves health, and cardio fitness is part of that, in my view, a healthy Yoga practice involves the whole being – spiritual, mental, emotional, as well as physical.

Practicing too vigorously, with an eye only to physical fitness, can lead some people down the path of adrenal overload. We have enough activities in our culture, including most of our day-to-day life-marathon activities, that push us into efforting. A good Yoga practice nudges us gently, out of “efforting” and into a more spacious mindset. It helps us metabolize our life experiences, especially when we include ample time at the end of the practice “simply” to rest and digest.

Life can feel like such a rat race at times, as we scramble to make time for everything – earning enough money to live, carving out enough time to enjoy quality experiences with our children and friends, making time and space for learning and growing, serving our community, and living into at least some our gifts and our potential.

It can be easy to lose the Big Picture – a sense of what it is all for, what it is all about.

Really, it isn’t about anything, unless we decide to make it so.

But the freedom and dignity of choosing what we want our lives to be about doesn’t come from the daily scramble. To really choose, and co-create our path, we need time and space to step outside of that.

One of my favorite activities in working with horses (EFL) is called wu wei. This is a Japanese term that basically means “not doing.” (The horses love this.)

How do you do “not doing?”

Most of us are really terrible at it, at least at first.

Most of us carry such a strong habit of have-to-do-something, and a strong awareness of there always being something to do, that it can feel hard, and scary, to let that go. So much of our sense of self-worth comes from what we can accomplish. It’s the same thing that makes it hard for some of us to lay down at the end of our Yoga practice and practice savasana – the most important pose. (It’s the one where you just lay there, doing “nothing.”)

The busy scrambling mind doesn’t like the practice of “doing nothing.”

But that busy scrambling mind is the one that got you into stress-ville –  it is not the way out to the big picture.

In Myths to Live By, Joseph Campbell describes the process by which an artist-in-training would apprentice to a master artist, in order to learn how to paint those beautiful, deceptively simple Japanese landscapes, with single, light and effortless-looking brushstrokes. For years, the would-be artist would just sit – doing nothing – not even holding a paintbrush – simply observing the movement of the wind across the landscape, the way the trees bend, the way the cranes rise from the lake at dawn.

Wu Wei.

Doing nothing.

Taking time for spaciousness is the best antidote to loss of Big Picture thinking. Whether it’s a walk in nature, or spending time with horses, or gentle, non-efforting Yoga practice, let’s take time this week to follow Rumi’s advice, and let the beauty we love be what we do.


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Erin Menut, Radiant Energy for Life

Erin & Aiden at Moonlight Beach