Are You Digging Many Shallow Wells?

by Norm on May 2, 2013

in Conflict Resolution, Happiness, Healing, Yoga

This old Yoga saying is a favorite of mine for two reasons:
1.    I understood it the first time I read it, and
2.    It was one I could start practicing right away.

There are other Yoga sayings like, “ Don’t ever blame anyone for anything.” or “Love your enemies,” that are not so easy to understand or to practice.

“Are you digging many shallow wells? was asked to help a seeker understand that the reason he was not making much progress with himself was because he did not find and stick to a particular teaching long enough.

Of course this could also be applied to trying to learn Spanish, play the piano, or write a book.

The modern version of this would be, “You are spreading yourself too thin.”or “I’m so very busy and yet I don’t seem to be getting anything done.”

Could this be your problem?

You are looking for water. You dig many wells 10 to 14 feet deep but you find no water.

After you have dug more than 100 dry wells, another person comes along and digs one well 20 feet deep and finds water.

From your perspective this doesn’t seem fair.

  1. You have worked much harder than the other guy.
  2. You have put in much more time.
  3. You have dug more than 1,000 feet of wells.
  4. You have dug many more wells. In fact, you can prove it because you’ve got holes all over the place.

Then a Wise One explains to you that there comes a time when the spiritual seeker must give up the eclectic attitude of “taking the best from many paths”, to settle upon one particular path and give it your full attention.

This also means to quit chasing after so many things.

A popular approach to health is that you need Yoga for flexibility, weight lifting for strength, and running or an aerobics class for an aerobic effect. None of the above will cover all of your needs. In other words, if you just practice Yoga, you will not be healthy and fit.

Right now it is a popular attitude that you will make more progress by taking both Pilates and Yoga.

How so?

Why not just practice Yoga? Fewer wells, more water!

This really helped me when back in 1979 when I found I was doing too many things and not getting done what was most important.

I made a list of all my activities and then began marking activities off of the list. Some things were very easy to cut. But then I bogged down and I still needed to eliminate a lot more activities.

I hadn’t been doing Yoga all that long and I did not have a very advanced understanding of Yoga, but when I came to Yoga on the list, I got quiet and let the answer just come up from inside me, and I wrote,

“Don’t cut the Yoga because it makes everything else work.”

Somehow my intuition knew that even though my conscious mind hadn’t yet placed Yoga at the top of my priority list.

Don’t Cut Yoga Because It Makes Everything Else Work

This aspect of Yoga is so little understood.

As you get deeper into your practice of Yoga, you begin to understand how the relaxation, the peace, the joy of your practice enables you to make better decisions.

Your intuition opens up.

Your focus increases.

Your ability to stick with a change of habits gets better. In short, you become more successful at improving your habits and your life, and you begin to live the life hoped for.

Instead of jumping at every new path, every new idea, every different therapy, you go deeper into one teaching.

In other words, you begin digging one deep well, and finally you find many answers that had been alluding you.

The mirror that reflects back to you just who you are is now clearer.

To use another Yoga term, the “veils of delusion” are beginning to lift and you see your purpose more clearly now.

I wish you success,



{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Scott May 2, 2013 at 8:41 pm

Thank you Norm for this Post.
I’ll comment here with hope to join you in encouraging others to give their Yoga more priority. It really does make everything else work. Yoga incorporates body, mind and spirit into one healthy activity – of course their are other activities that can have these elements too – but Yoga has the blessing of an almost limitless invitation to focus. There is a mis-conception I believe, that to practice Yoga you must have a strictly Yoga-spirituality – if there is such a thing; but I have no problem at all turning to Jesus while I do Yoga. The use of Namasté, is an invitation to salute others; and can promote an open-ness to their spiritual journey. If I miss my Yoga a day now I have a restless spirit, a tense body, and a cluttered mind!

Norm May 2, 2013 at 9:19 pm


You explained it very clearly. I am in total agreement.

Thank you for sharing your viewpoint and experience.

Blessings and Namasté,

Roy Vongtama May 10, 2013 at 12:18 am

Thank you Norm for this post! I agree wholeheartedly.
Circling around the outside of the wheel just gets you muddy.
Gotta travel in the spokes~!

Norm May 10, 2013 at 8:14 am

I have not heard it said quite that way before. Thanks.

As far as I know, you are the only Radiation Oncologist MD/Actor/Film Maker who has commented on my site.

I clicked on your name and was able to see your resumé, head shots and movie/TV credits.

I look forward to seeing more of your work and I wish you continued success in what must be two of the most difficult fields in which to succeed. You certainly have not settled for the easiest, most secure career choices.

I salute you with Namasté,

Lewis June 14, 2014 at 3:17 pm

Hi Norman,
Thank you for an interesting article, as so many times we read that yoga alone is ‘not enough’. I have cervical and hip arthritis (one hip replaced),but try to do strength training with weights,stationary cycling, and yoga in the belief that I have to ‘do it all’ to keep aerobically fit,along with strength and mobility. I must admit that sometimes,my whole body aches,and it’s a job to get moving in the morning.My gut feeling is that yoga alone,especially with meditation would help me most,but where does the aerobic fitness come from with yoga,especially as I have to do a modified yoga which I developed from Hittleman many years ago.
Thank you for a very interesting website and You Tube videos which are helping me feel that I can beat this or at least cope better.

Norm June 19, 2014 at 10:43 am

Lewis, Welcome to my site.

You have brought up a very interesting point with “where does the aerobic fitness come from with yoga?” I may write a post specifically to answer this question.

Meanwhile, let’s think about what will help you the most right now?

I suggest that you let go of the ideas you have heard about all of the things you should do to be healthy and in shape, and rather ask yourself, “What do I need to do to heal?”

You need to relax and practice yoga in a way that will relieve your pain and help you to heal.

Almost all of the sports and gym workouts we do increase tension in the muscles, which is the opposite of what we want for healing. Many people with arthritis are puzzled when they lift weights, increase strength, and yet get no relief from their pain. I have known arthritic sufferers who have done this for 10 to 20 years or more with no reduction in pain or arthritis.

To reduce pain, I teach people how to move slowly and gently without pain in a way that will increase range of motion, circulation and healing.

For inspiration and yoga techniques to help you heal, you can Search “Healing” or “Pain” on this site for Articles, Videos, and Comments by readers. These links will help:

Reduce & Heal Your Knee Pain

How Alida Practices Pain-Free Yoga

How Linda Is Healing Her Arthritis with Yoga

I will be happy to hear of your progress.
Please let me know if I may help your further.
I wish you great success,

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