(This piece was first published in the October 2013 issue of Country Wisdom News, in the monthly column “Bread and Roses.”)
“The worker must have bread, but she must have roses too.” A century after this labor slogan first became popular, its message is still urgently needed. So many people struggle so hard just to obtain the staples of survival; anything beyond that can seem too costly–in money and/or time. But the old call for bread and roses reminds us that beauty, rest, fun, and meaning–the “roses” of life–are essentials too. When we don’t include them in our lives, our well-being suffers.
I look forward to the day when this truth has infiltrated our culture to such an extent that every single person can easily access all the bread and all the roses they need. But while we’re waiting and working toward that time, how can we bring more of the good stuff into our daily lives?
One thing for any rose seeker to remember is the limitless value of a life-balancing practice such as yoga, qigong, or meditation. Once learned, such a practice can change your life forever–for free. Just twenty minutes a day can reduce stress and anxiety levels all day long.
My own qigong and meditation practices have played a big part in transforming me from a high-strung, anxiety-prone person to one who’s peaceful and balanced more often than not. And I know I’m not alone in finding that these practices can cause a profound shift in how one perceives one’s outer life circumstances–a shift on the order of the glass magically going from half empty to half full. Joy and gratitude begin to show up for no apparent reason, and without warning dandelions may begin to look and smell like roses. So even if meeting basic needs is a challenge, life feels rich with inherent beauty, meaning, and pleasure.
This is growing your own roses from the inside out. If such inner gardening appeals to you but you haven’t tried it yet, or if you’d like to check out a new practice, there are many instructional resources to be found. Some are free or low-cost, such as internet videos, teleseminars, and donation-based instruction programs. There are also local groups and teachers who will work with those on a limited budget.
One example is a free 8-week course, “The Path Within: An Introduction to Meditation,” starting the first week of October. This class is conducted via phone by Werner John, leader of the Woodstock Evolutionary Circle. (Full disclosure: Werner is also my husband!)
Werner says, “I’ve found meditation to be one of the simple miracles of life. It’s usually learned as a pathway from anxiety toward peaceful relaxation–but then at some point you realize that this sitting in quiet awareness is also blessing you with health benefits, spiritual understandings, and blissful happy feelings reminiscent of chocolate! All this adds up to a significant enhancement of life.”
Werner also sponsors ongoing support groups for meditators of all experience levels. For more on his offerings visit evolvetogether.net.