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Home / Articles / Columnists / Life 101 /  A line on sand, a line on rock, & a line on water
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Friday, August 7,2015

A line on sand, a line on rock, & a line on water

By Cary Bayer  

We have the expression in our language about drawing a line on sand, which usually means setting your boundaries, and defending them against anyone who would choose to cross the line. It’s used a lot in political conversation, and in different kinds of negotiations between parties.

The expression drawing a line on sand also has another connotation in terms of how the nervous system responds to events. The first time that I heard the expression was on my Transcendental Meditation Teacher Training Program many moons ago. It was held in a giant tent on the beach on the southwest coast of Spain as the Atlantic Ocean roared outside. Leading the training course, of course, was the great sage, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. “Maha” is the Sanskrit word for great; “rishi” the Sanskrit term for seer. He then went on to talk about how rigid people, those whose nervous systems were highly stressed, react inflexibly to things that they don’t want to have happen. He said that such nervous systems have a difficult time handling things that don’t go their way. Often, such an experience lingers in the mind, causing people to dwell on it long after the event is over, sometimes literally losing sleep about it. He added that the stress that´s deposited in the nervous systems of such folks is analogous to what happens to a rock when you scratch something on it with a knife or something else that’s very sharp. The line is deep and not easily erased; it will last for years.

He then went on to say that as one learns to meditate, the nervous system gets rejuvenated twice a day by releasing stress. This enables the system to become more evolved and adaptable. Instead of behaving like a rock, it becomes more like the sand on a beach. You can trace a line on sand with your foot and the line will be a deep impression, but it can easily be washed away by the tides or even by the very foot that made it. In other words, the line drawn literally in the sand is much less permanent than a line drawn on a rock.

The longer one meditates, the more flexible the nervous system becomes. It’s like the difference between the shock absorbers on an old beat-up car like, say, a ’55 Chevy, and a ’15 Mercedes. Each car could drive down a bumpy road, but the experience for drivers and passengers are very different: the old Chevy, whose suspension system is worn out, will feel every bump and feel it quite dramatically. A 2015 luxury car, however, has a brand new suspension system which functions in a highly efficient manner - that’s part of what makes it a luxury automobile.

As the nervous system evolves through meditation, events don’t throw one the way they did prior to learning to meditate. One can take life’s challenges more in stride, taking things more easily as they come without getting bent out of shape about them. Maharishi expanded his analogy by discussing the drawing of a line in water. The line displaces the water, of course, but only for seconds. The reason, naturally, is that water is fluid - literally - and adapts in a highly flexible manner, flowing around obstacles that are put in its path. Water doesn’t fight things the way human beings do when their nervous systems are more nervous, and less fluid.

Maharishi said that the nervous system of a person who’s enlightened, who has attained Self-Realization, is like that of water. He then explained that it’s possible for the human nervous system to behave more like air - draw a line in air, and all that gets displaced are some molecules, all of which are invisible to the naked eye. He compares such a highly evolved nervous system to that of the person who has gained the highest state of enlightenment possible - Unity with all that is.

I now practice and teach the Higher Self Healing Meditation that I founded in 2010, and watch the people I teach enjoy transforming their nervous systems from old Chevys to brand new luxury cars.


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