Everyone wants balance but to be perfectly in balance means that you’re also static. Life isn’t like that. Life moves. So rather than wanting balance we should seek balance. A student studying martial arts in a temple in Asia doesn’t stand on one foot and want balance, when the student loses balance it is immediately sought. Likewise, once the sensei sees that balance has been struck the student is intentionally pushed off balance and offered the chance to continue growth. The lesson is as much in the pushing as in the recovery.
In the example the student represents an individual consciousness and the teacher becomes the world. As you pass each grade you are given harder work. As you lift more weight you are given more weight to lift. As you get each promotion your responsibilities grow. When you’re single you learn to be together. When you’re a couple you learn to accommodate a family. When you’re older you learn to live with your partner in a house without kids. And of course eventually we must prepare to lose control of even our bodies and minds. This is how the sensi is like the world.
If we place this on a turning wheel it might be easier to grasp the notions of yin and yang. Rather than separate entities these are two parts of one entity, like the a wave has both a crest and trough but both things can only be experienced in unison. There is no border or line between yin and yang. This should be seen more like a pot of hot water mixed with a pot of cold water. Where they mix there is no line but they they are nevertheless two separate parts of one larger body (of water, in this case).
Now let us turn our wheel into a clock. From 9:00 until noon is when you’re grasping a concept and then growing in your ability. Noon is when you crest in that ability and the wheel continues to move forward into your new future (a new relationship, job, financial situation, whatever), but now you’re unprepared and you can feel the wheel begin to sink. By 3:00 you’re now heading toward the ground fast, you’re upside down by 6:00 and it all just seems like it’s going to crush you.
Alas, at the base of our experience we render our old selves apart and we reconstitute our idea of our new self as stronger and more capable, and we begin a slow rise. We still feel upside down right up until 9:00 again, but at least things seem to be making more sense. But 9:00 we’re back on the rise and making use of all of the lessons we learned from 6:00 until 9:00, making those critically valuable times.
Of course your life is made of many wheels at once. Your relationship wheel, your work wheel, each friend has their own wheel, your health, your habits etc. etc. When we’d say our biorhythms are high we have many wheels rising. When we say we’re very down is when they all line up going the other direction. But most of our life is a mix, which is important, because it means there’s usually some area of life we can focus on where things are rising toward better feelings.
What people want is a wheel that’s had the 3:00 to 9:00 part removed, but that wheel wouldn’t turn very far. This is why acceptance is so important. We must come into life knowing that the teacher will push us off balance. Our job is not to stop the meddling teacher, our job is to recover balance. So there’s no life skill that saves you from trouble, but there is one that helps you rapidly recover your balance.
It is important to remember that you cannot even seek balance if you’re still complaining about it not being there. The complaint period is the descent from 3:00 to 6:00, but after 6:00 we’re accepting our situation or we’re acting to change it. That is the only way to move forward. Everything else is braking fear. It’s why so many people are stuck. They’re trying to avoid the bottom part of the circle of life, but without the bottom life cannot turn.
Look at each area of your life. Which wheels are rising and which are falling? Can you sense the resistance of your suffering? Can you feel where are you slowing yourself down by preventing your spin toward 6:00? Success is not avoiding 6:00, it’s to turn through it as smoothly and evenly as you would any other time. So it is to be in the flow, full of acceptance and moving forward.
Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organisations locally and around the world.
A serious childhood brain injury lead Scott to spend his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and identity. It made others as strange to him as he was to them. When he realized people were confused by their own over-thinking, Scott began teaching others to understand reality. He is currently CBC Radio Active’s Wellness Columnist, as well as a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.