This past week in my yoga offerings we discussed the cosmic dancers (Shiva + Shakti).
Without giving the long winded tale of these two star-crossed lovers, I will simply state that the relationship between the cosmic dancers represents a balance between action (movement) and inaction (stillness).
Shakti is action; Shiva is Stillness.
In simple terms, managing and navigating our lives and the trials and tribulations therein boils down to the balance of these two ostensibly simple concepts. However, the application of these two concepts is where the true leg work begins.
I began the class by discussing the first step of balance: recognizing where your own constitution lies. Are you a mover and a shaker --- fueled by a busy schedule? Or are you more isolated, unmotivated, or "easy going?" One could argue, this could be the Type A vs Type B comparison, however, it's much more than that; as we require both action and stillness rather than residing in one extreme and throwing our hands up. Look no farther than your daily routine and habits to see which energy you currently hold more of (know it changes or can change over time).
However, before you establish where you fall on the Shiva/Shakti spectrum, let's lay out the benefits of both (then the shadow qualities).
Action - allows us "achieve" said goals, keeps us moving, fulfills desire, allows us to grow by having experiences, opens us up to connecting with others, fuels inspirations, ideas and thoughts, feeds our creative energy and expression, allows us to experience the full spectrum of emotion, can light the way to desires, meaningful tasks, etc.
Stillness - allows us the ability to reflect when we've set a goal, to enjoy the outcome, opportunities of insight, looking at experiences and considering lessons learned, gathering points of reference, applying knowledge, growing internally, the ability to listen (to ourselves and others), to slow down, be more present, find joy in what is, etc.
In a simple example, if you're taking Vinyasa style yoga classes or working out 5-6x/week, you most likely have an excess of Shakti energy (unless you also meditate outside of your practice; or find other opportunities to "still"). If you run home to grab the hummus, carrots, hit Netflix, and hop in bed every weeknight then you probably have excess Shiva energy. So, know where you are, first (and know that the constitution, like any scale, will fluctuate over time -- you may find in one season of your life you need more effort, and in another you need more stillness).
Now that you have reflected on where you stand, consider the benefits of both (listed above). Try not to be in denial that one is worse than the other -- again, the metaphor is dance, and dancers move fluidity WITH one another. After you have engaged in the introspection, determining where you stand, then consider the potential drawbacks to your own constitution (unless you're totally balanced, then congrats!).
The short-comings are as follows:
(too much) Action - potential... lack of appreciate IN THE MOMENT (i.e. contentment) for precious experiences, feeling you NEED MORE of something rather than functioning in a space of abundance, inability to seriously get to know your inner landscape, inability to be alone, refusal to face inner issues and demons, potential escaping of problems and issues, high anxiety, etc.
(too much) Stillness - lack of motivation, depression (no movement toward goals and idea = no joy in the process), withdrawal attitude, isolation, lack of willingness to connect and be vulnerable, therefore, lack of growth, control issues, etc.
After you compare and contrasts the benefits and shortcoming, the central question becomes: How do I balance myself out?
As we know, to balance an excess of energy, you need the opposite - if you're more Shakti, you need more stillness in your life; if you're more Shiva, you need more effort and action in your life. The task becomes to juxtapose habits of the opposite.
If you're someone who is constantly "fueled" by activity, it is essential you engage in a mindful walk; a meditation practice (5 minutes tops); a gratitude list, etc. "I don't have time," is not a valid excuse, because, believe it or not, STILLNESS has been shown to OPEN people up to more fulfilling lives, and even allowed them to reach their truest desires faster -- yet, we thrive in a world where we are conditioned to believe only intensity yields desired outcomes. When you create space, through stillness, you CREATE SPACE for "STUFF" --- this STUFF can be the STUFF that brings you more purpose, truth and joy.
If you're someone who is convinced you are "just a serious introvert and everyone else is super needy," STOP IT! LOL! In all seriousness, consider adding some connection and movement in your life. You cannot growth without the moving pieces because you give yourself no room to compare and contrast, rise and fall, learn what you love and what you don't, etc. If you don't engage and participate in life you end up being cynical and perpetually alone. When you find action, you move into growth and you discover purpose and joy through the process.
It is a state of BEING & BECOMING
Without the dynamic power of becoming, nothing could grow, evolve or transform. And without steady and stable ground, no growth can happen.