This is the story of the oak beams at the Oxford library dining hall. A mythical legend about what we’d now call the green building, or thinking across the generations. I once found it a book and it made a deep impression on me. I think it may impress you too.
Sometime in the 19th century at New College, Oxford, the dining hall’s oak beams needed replacing. Now you should know that these beams were so large and thick they were incredibly hard, if not impossible to come by.
The library archives showed the College-owned forest land, and when the College Archivist was asked about this, he returned with the following information: when the hall was built (some 500 years earlier), a grove of oaks had been planted. They called in the College Forester and asked him about the oaks. The Forrester pulled his forelock and said, “Well sirs, we was wonderin’ when you’d be askin’.”
For five centuries, the plan had been passed down from one Forester to the next: “You don’t cut them oaks. Them’s for the College Hall.”
Your body, brain (mind), and soul work together best when you’re in a natural state of being. When this happens, you feel energized and powerful. You develop new insights and ideas. Your mood is great and so is your productivity. Nothing’s too much. You can move mountains, as it were. A crucial question: what state of being is that? Let’s find out!
The human body is made to move. If you don’t use it, you lose it, or motion is lotion. Your body needs regular physical activity and movement to work well. More and more people now have desk jobs and need sports, yoga, walking, etc. to move. You can read more about this in my blog “Life is Movement“.
Physical activity provides energy, both physically and mentally. No wonder sitting is called the new smoking; it drains your body of energy. It’s why I often say things start going wrong in first grade when children are forced to sit still all day.
So, what about your brain? Does it also need ‘movement’ to work well, like thinking, planning, worrying, and multitasking? If I have a lot on my mind and feel I have to do everything at once, I tend to forget things. My focus is off, I can’t think clearly, and make wrong decisions as a result. I feel rushed and stressed, lose my temper, sleepless, and run out of energy. I get tired, become even more worried, and can’t move those mountains – worse, they turn into mountains of dread. If this continues for a while, my stress becomes chronic and I get burned out. For me, and many with me, this became the new normal.
So, let’s recap: your body needs physical activity and movement to work well, your brain does not. Your brain needs relaxation, stillness, and less activity. Hmmm, that’s interesting, don’t you think? Exactly the opposite. They never taught me that. What about you?
No matter how healthy you eat and drink, or how much you exercise, if you don’t do anything about your energy-hungry, overactive brain, you fight a losing battle.
Most people don’t relax their mind before bedtime. They just keep fretting and pondering. Sounds familiar? You may have noticed that lying on the couch watching TV usually doesn’t help. Certainly not when you’re mostly watching others living ‘perfect lives’ while yours is anything but (don’t worry, neither is mine). The commercials in between, of course, offer pills, shakes, and other gimmicks to help you sleep, or feel good about yourself again. But they will cost you, and thus become the main reason you get out of bed in the morning. This completes the circle, leaving your brain no space or capacity to be aware of anything else around you.
We move further and further away from our natural state of being. We lose ourselves in the hustle of day-to-day life and get stuck in ‘survival mode’. Do you feel trapped sometimes? Like there’s no breathing room? Do you ever wonder why you’re here? Or have you turned into a dazed, half-asleep zombie, your life force slowly seeping out of you?
We’ve reached a global tipping point. Our politics, healthcare, education, and economy are sick. It’s time to realize the planet’s expiration date has long passed. That we must and can change. Solving the current crisis and protecting future generations is mainly a matter of mindset. It’s about being willing to change.
“The world has enough for everyone’s needs, but not everyone’s greed.” – Mahatma Gandhi
I no longer want to be part of a world that only benefits a few. I want to contribute by sharing knowledge and skills. To a better world for everyone. I want to be part of a greater whole.
I want to contribute to the Africa Yoga Project. After my last visit to Kenya, something completely different unexpectedly came my way: a project called Miti ya matumaini, or “Trees of Hope”. I let myself be guided and follow the flow of my natural state of being. But more about this next time.
You, me, we are all on the same earth. We look at the same sun and moon, drink from the same source, and breathe the same air.
What does this have to do with yoga? Yoga is not a new thing. It existed before our era and has been passed down from master to apprentice for generations. Yoga is connection, first with yourself, then with your loved ones, family and friends, surroundings, the world, and the Universe. You can also replace the Universe with God, Allah, Buddha, the Creator, the Source, or any other name that suits you.
“Nice to meet your Self” is Yoga Ommen’s slogan.
Yoga is becoming increasingly popular for a reason: it connects you to your natural state. “To be original is to return the origin: nature” (Antoni Gaudi). Yoga made me whole again. It helped me find my true self. Maybe it can help you too.
Let’s think across the generations and take back our responsibility. Not seek it outside ourselves but within ourselves. Live a healthy lifestyle in which yoga can help.
Let’s spread awareness that we share a planet on which every human, animal, and creature matters. Together, we form an ecosystem, and it has become unbalanced. Let’s take a good look at existing structures and see how we can reorganize them.
Let’s think across the generations, like the trees of Oxford. And let nature be a huge source of inspiration. She invented sustainability, after all.
Are you interested in yoga and would you like to experience the benefits of yoga yourself? You can! The exercises are easy to learn and (with a bit of practice) can also be done at home. If you don’t live in or nearby Ommen, our Online Back Care Basics program offers a great alternative! Or join our free 6-day challenge “From Back Pain to Back Gain” first, and discover what yoga can do for you!
If you live in the neighborhood or are visiting Ommen, feel free to visit us. Or sign up for a trial class or a private (live stream) class.