The word synergy is a fabulous word isn’t it? Synergy is the combination of two or more agents or forces so that their combined effect is greater than the sum of their individual effects. Synergy implies dynamism and flow.
The word balance is similar in meaning but we could say it has a different tone or quality- it is two or more things or components that come together and create a state of equilibrium or equipoise. Balance is used to imply physical, mental and/or emotional stability and sound judgment. In design, balance refers to placement of elements that produce an aesthetically pleasing, integrated sense of whole. Balance infers steadiness and calm.
I played with these two terms and gave ideas about how to experience and accentuate them in a talk I gave in New York City several years ago when I was there representing Miraval. Looking back over my notes of the talk today, I’m noticing how the terms bring to mind one of my teacher’s favorite statements from Patanjali, the ancient codifier or yoga philosophy. I hear her voice now in melodic Sanskrit- “Sthira Sukham Asanam.”
“Sthira” means steady, firm, immovable. “Sukham” means comfortable, pleasant, willing, sweet. “Asana” means posture or attitude. (There’s more to this word for another time)
My teacher Rama used to translate this as “Find comfort in any pose”- which was not a typical translation. More often it is something dry and literal like, “Posture should be firm and comfortable.”
What does this have to do with Synergy and Balance? Synergy to me feels like sukham- sweetness and flow. Balance feels like sthira- that quality of steadiness and calm. What does it mean in terms of practice and life? I remember when Rama used to talk about it, it gave me a deep sense of what I was “doing” when I was doing yoga asana. These 2 qualities equally engaged created a sort of holy state for me that has informed the way I practice and guide ever since.
She meant a lot with that statement though, more than yoga or meditation postures- she was also suggesting that we were learning how to flow with life. To not effort, control, inflict our will upon certain situations we would find ourselves in. That there was a way to find comfort anywhere, with anyone, under any circumstances. This was the realization of the sutra, the deepest meaning.
Consider for a moment right now, where or with whom in your life are you being too rigid or static or serious? How might you find comfort in this pose, circumstance, relationship, situation?
One last thought here: In Vedic Astrology the term “sthira” shows up again, it is used in reference to the signs of the zodiac that have a fixed quality: Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, Aquarius. On the positive side “sthira” gives stability, endurance, consistency to the matters these signs govern in your chart and on the difficult side it can cause inertia, resistance, stagnation. In Astrology when a lot of your birth planets end up in fixed signs you learn a lot about both sides of the “sthira” equation. I will tell you I have 5 planets in fixed signs, so I know of what I speak!
Natasha Korshak is a long-time teacher and trainer of yoga, meditation, mindfulness and MBSR, and has been working in the field of integrative health and wellness her entire professional career. She is a graduate of the Interfaith Theological Seminary and an ordained Interfaith Minister specializing in contemplative practice, grief processing, and spiritual direction. Her study and training of mind/body/spirit methods is extensive and she has learned from many of the pioneers in their discipline. As the founder and director of the Sol Center she is well regarded for her depth, warmth, authenticity, and the smile in her voice.