I recently read an article by a dance teacher that gives us surprisingly helpful advice about how to deal with life’s challenges. The instructor, Jan Erkert, wrote: “As a dancer, I study physical states of energy. In one exercise I often conduct with my students, one dancer must remain still while others throw their full weight into them, like football without any protection. Most fall into a heap on the floor with one or two hits. But one woman I once taught could do it. She was 4’9″ and weighed less than ninety pounds, yet as the dancers hurled themselves into her, they bounced right off. She knew something they didn’t. Calm is deceptive. From the outside, it looks still. But within the body, it is anything but. Every time she was hit, she recalibrated and adjusted her weight. It was subtle and easy to miss the astounding skill [involved]. Calm isn’t the lack of energy, but rather fluid energy arrested.”

I found her description fascinating and, as I said, extremely helpful in dealing with karmic body blows. The chain of cause and effect that we ourselves set in motion usually takes some time to return to us. Thus, we will be faced with situations that have the potential to affect us, but haven’t yet become fully manifest. And then there are those tests that are already upon us, and demand our immediate response.

To deal with potential blows, let’s remember the example of the dancer and practice the art of inner micro-adjusting. Look at common traps that you fall into, and be prepared to recalibrate your reactions: to adjust your attitudes, thoughts, or words before you get caught.

Do you often react to certain challenges with anger, or judgment? with blaming others, or self-justification? When you feel a recurring karmic situation moving towards you, make the necessary mental or behavioral adjustments while you are still free to do so. The more you can self-adjust early in the process, the less power karma will have over you. Catch yourself before you blow up, or condemn others. Control your energy and return to a state of balance. Over time you will find yourself freer from that particular karma.

When you find yourself already in the midst of a big test, you can still apply the same principle. In the Bible, Jesus Christ states: “I say unto you, that you resist not evil; but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.” His words are generally taken as advice to be passive and contrite in the face of aggression. But Yoganandaji gives a very different interpretation: Christ is talking about the law of karma. If a blow is coming to you, don’t tense up and resist it, but think, “Bring it on!” Welcome it and respond like the centered dancer who saw her assailants bounce off of her. It all comes down to staying centered in the calm eye of any karmic storm.

In Whispers from Eternity, Yoganandaji wrote: “Throughout all trials, of whatever nature, we can retain our equilibrium and sail through the most harrowing experiences with our inner peace and joy unaffected, if we remain inwardly calm. Learn to look upon whatever happens to you with the certainty that nothing can touch you in your true, inner Self: your soul.”

To paraphrase the dance teacher, Calm isn’t the lack of energy: It is learning to control your reactions and the flow of inner energy. When bad karma comes, as it inevitably will until we are free souls, don’t let it slam you to the ground.

Through a regular practice of meditation, we become more absorbed in the calmness of our soul nature. Learn to live in that calmness, and keep your balance in all circumstances. Then you will find yourself dancing gracefully through life hand in hand with your unseen partner, God.

With joy,

Nayaswami Devi

Jyotish and Devi now offer weekly commentary on each blog, with special behind-the-inspiration stories and answers to common spiritual questions. Subscribe to the podcast or download the audio recording by right-clicking here. Or listen to it here (5:20):

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  1. Thank you for the beautiful wisdom about maintaining inner balance and calm amidst any stressful circumstances. It’s very useful information and a pleasure to read.

  2. Very timely for me, as I am faced with an uncertain and complex situation now of an act performed long ago with good intentions. This article has given practical advice and comfort.

  3. “Calm isn’t the lack of energy: It is learning to control your reactions and the flow of inner energy”

    A beautiful sentence, calmness is the biggest strength,.

    Thanks very mcuh

  4. I agree with every word, thank you Nayaswami Devi very much.

  5. Thank you for your wise words. I really appreciate these updates and their format. God Bless

  6. What a beautiful but practical rendition of calmness. Your words flow from the depth of your achieved calmness. My heartfelt gratitude!

  7. Thank you dear Devi for your wise loving words. They will help me and have already. I am God’s dancer and singer😇 Always with love and gratitude , bhajana💛🎸🎶

  8. mm

    Thank you Devi. The imagery of the dancer is so profound and so helpful. I’ll be bookmarking this, to reminded always of the power of calmness, acceptance, courage, and love.

  9. Simple yet profound. Thanks for your insight into this confusing topic of deeds and paybacks.

  10. This was amazingly clear, pertinent advice. I can start using this right now. Thank you!

  11. These stories always provide such uplifting, instantly applicable advice to my daily life, and I thank you for sharing them!!

  12. This was a beautiful message! I so appreciate it. As usual, the message comes when one needs to hear it. Thank you.

  13. Thank you so very much Devi. This is exactly what I needed. It’s like a drop of gold in this time of darkness and karmic battles.

  14. Thank you for that story of the dancer and the strength of inner balance and fluid response. I have heard that the worst part of pain is our resistance to it. Now I believe I understand that concept better.

    1. Yet another inspiring, practical application of Master’s teachings!
      Thank you!

  15. The story reminds me of the theory behind Tai Chi. A common story is a bird trying to lift itself from the master hands. The hand gives so the bird is unable to take off.

  16. Wow. A great story, Devi. This is one that will stay with me for a LONG time.

  17. What a profound message of living in the light and love of God within. It is the manifestation of
    our inner work
    Thank you Devi, the story is both elevated and practical in my everyday life.

  18. Thank you for another wonderful blog post. I feel like a student right on the cusp of grasping an important concept that has eluded me: calmness requires energy … I hope this can sink in

  19. Deviji – Mahalo good reminder and good Jesus information. Many years ago in practicing tail-chi push hands we were taught to listen with our hands and practice with our eyes closed. Amazing how quickly we could do what the 4’9” dancer could do. My first thought in reading this article is she’d done the same. Maybe I know her. Calm – Peace – Amen

  20. Thanks for this inspirational words! JAI GOD, CHRIST, GURUS AUM AMEN

  21. Thank you for the vey practical technique… catching ourselves, control the reaction, readjust and then… make it a good habit!
    Jai Guru,

  22. Dear Nayaswami Devi Ji,

    Thank you for this wonderful letter. Very useful guidelines and I enjoyed reading these lines – Then you will find yourself dancing gracefully through life hand in hand with your unseen partner, God.


  23. Devi, this is such an incredibly insightful sharing. it speaks volumes of your deep dives within and how you are able to align Guru Dev’s teachings and apply them to every experience in your life. Appreciate this wonderful share that applies to each and every one of us as we face the adversities that our own karmas cause to flow through our mind-speech-body assemblies. Namaste. With gratitude, Shaila

  24. Thank you from my heart for this message, dear Devi Nayaswami! Exactly what I needed/need to hear. Also shared with family and friends.
    Love and gratitude,

  25. I loved this. I am learning and it’s everything to me.❤️

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