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I Ching Hexagram Interpretations

52: Keeping Still

Keeping Still

Regular periods of rest are an important aspect of personal development and forward motion. The most relaxed person may not be the one who sleeps twelve hours a day, but the one who knows how to grab catnaps while cruising at 600 miles-per-hour at 35,000 feet. Learning to act when it is time to act, and how to be still when it is best to keep still, is the key to obtaining the peace of mind that helps you stay focused when clear focus is needed.

Consider the spine, which serves as a switchboard for all the nerves of the body that mediate movement. When the spine is kept flexible and healthy through proper rest and relaxation, active movement can be undertaken without strain. When the spine is held erect in a balanced sitting posture, the inner balancing of meditation can take place.

Treat your vitality as if it were a candle in the wind — protecting it as though it were the only light in a dark forest on a moonless night. Avoid external conditions that threaten to snuff out this precious flame, and be careful not to suffocate it with your own ambitions and worries.

Time out. Relax, take your shoes off, and sit a spell. Let go of thinking. Meditate.

Changing Line Interpretations

Line 1 (bottom line)

At the beginning of a large undertaking, reserve energy by pausing for rest and reflection at the beginning. Taking a moment to chart a course before setting out on an adventure preserves good timing and brings good fortune. This is the point in time where few mistakes have been made and innocence is still untainted by ulterior motives. Persevere in staying balanced, and you will be able to establish a firm footing.

Line 2

If you find yourself being led by someone going down a misguided path, leave them to their fate or you will become lost along with them. When the road leads nowhere, slow down to a standstill. In a case like this, stopping to sit by the side of the road brings good fortune.

Line 3

Trying to induce rest through forced rigidity is like expecting a computer to write poetry: an essential contradiction makes such efforts useless. When you are bone tired, a good sleep is much more rejuvenating than a stringent form of meditation.

Line 4

Letting go of the ego’s agenda facilitates a deeper kind of rest, though sometimes the easiest way to let go is to satisfy its desires first (if they are harmless). They are most free who are able to move through the world with sublime indifference to the ego’s agendas. Letting your heart rest in calmness is a part of this process and will help you remain free of mistakes. A more profoundly satisfying level of consciousness awaits those who can let themselves be still for as needed.

Line 5

Light-hearted, foolish chatter about problems can make things worse. If you lack inner calm, your words will reflect fears, doubts, desires, impatience and other restless forces operating inside you. This can cause harm in a number of subtle ways. For example, if you constantly babble about travel difficulties while on vacation, you may put others off, and thereby miss the rejuvenating good times and new companionship you were seeking in the first place. Plus, you may inadvertently say things that allow others to take advantage of you, particularly when you find yourself dependent on strangers for essential needs. If you give your mouth a rest and govern your speech, then when you do speak, your words will carry a greater power and there will be no remorse.

Line 6 (top line)

This changing line points to the ability to maintain stillness and composure in the midst of a chaotic world, which is a noble-hearted achievement. When positive acceptance of all of life has been achieved, what harm can follow from that? Peace and good fortune await you.