Sisyphus and Finding the Great Balance

MythI used to love Greek myths when I was a kid. The hero deeds, the great feats, the Gods all spoke a language that hit in the gut. They weren’t stories that appealed to my mind so much as they were appealing to my dreams. Now, because I’m both a psychotherapist and a pagan, I’m going to reference the old-timers, the granddaddies, the myth-makers of psychology: Freud and Jung. Both of them contended that myth and dreams both originate from the same place. They represent the body speaking.

…something “other” awakens within us and comes to life….

When the mind settles away from the known shores of conscious thinking, planning, working, and communicating with others, something “other” awakens within us and comes to life. It’s the life of our bodies, with its own set of demands, which usually has little (if anything) to do with the social demands and expectations of our everyday lives. Yet we live in a split way. We have sort-of parallel lives running, with each sphere almost blind to the other.

Living in this split way leads us to disempowerment, discomfort and ultimately suffering. We feel dissatisfied at some level with our lives, our work, our partners, families, communities and ourselves. But we can’t quite put our finger on the problem. Why? Why do we feel this way? And how can we come into a greater accord with the twin rhythms of our lives—the mind and body, light and dark, conscious and unconscious processes?

…we live in a split way. We have sort-of parallel lives running, with each sphere almost blind to the other.

The myth of Sisyphus might give us a clue. Sisyphus was the God who was consigned to the underworld and given the task of forever pushing a tremendous boulder up a hill. As soon as he reached the summit, the boulder would roll back down and he would have to start the task again. So the question this myth raises is whether or not Sisyphus is bound to suffer. It also asks whether or not we will suffer, for the heroes, Gods and Goddesses of myth are really ourselves.images2LS5LLH6

Sisyphus will suffer if he lives out of synch with the task before him—pushing, pushing, pushing. If he stands there and thinks, “Oh hell no! This is bulls**t,” then he has misaligned himself. Suffering and disempowerment will ensue. But if he throws himself just into the pushing, and simply does just what the moment requires of him, then the mind and body align. The world opens. Power floods in. In that state of alignment, there is no room for preferences, a product of habitual thinking and a lifetime of patterns that always leads to misalignment, confusion, dissatisfaction and loss of power in our lives.

It isn’t easy to live in alignment. Old habits and preferences die hard. Most organisms want to experience comfort and pleasure as much of the time as possible. But there is no power when you live in that way. It’s living lopsided. Living as a slave to our preferences leads exactly to where we are now: stressed, unhappy, dissatisfied and disempowered.

At the time of the Equinoxes, it is time for each of us to take stock of balance. Do we have it? Are we living in it? This Fall, take time to throw yourself into your life fully with no gaps. Push the boulder. Be an instrument of the universe and do the thing that needs doing in this moment. This is living in balance—moment by moment. See for yourself the difference that living in balance will have.

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