I’ve had the pleasure of teaching yoga to children. When I considered how to teach the concept of balance, I went on a search for one of those old scales, the ones associated with blind justice (who’s often not so blind but that’s another story).
I wanted to show the children how putting equal weight on each side caused the small plates to line up with each other. I finally found a kiddie version and we created weights using pennies then went on our journey searching for balance. After playing with our scale, we worked on putting the principle into action in some yoga postures. We practiced Swan, Airplane and Standing Bow or King’s Dancer. All of these postures require you to reach forward and reach backward simultaneously. It’s necessary to apply equal intensity in two directions. It’s the 50-50 action of pushing and pulling that creates the stability in the center. The center is where we find the calm and focus and direction. That’s balance.
I’m sure many of you have seen people with Yin and Yang tattoos. It’s a beautiful representation of a profound and powerful theory in Traditional Chinese Medicine (#TCM). Whereas we often think of opposites attracting, traditional Chinese and African thought highlight the idea that opposites complement each other. Night needs day and day needs night in order to be fully understood. In the Yin and Yang model, there’s a little bit of Yin in Yang and a little bit of Yang in Yin.
Literally, these forces depend upon each other in order to exist. You can create an inexhaustible list of things that we call opposites. Inside-Outside. Passive-Active. Hot-Cold. Contraction-Expansion. Sun-Moon. Excess-Deficiency. Open-Close. Comfort-Discomfort. Slow-Fast. As you review the list, it becomes easier to see how one half supports the other half. Our understanding of slow requires an understanding of fast and vice versa. In order to modulate speed, we need to know both and determine how to create the right rhythm for the particular situation. We become Mixologists blending flavors and rhythmic beats from both sides for the perfect balance.
One area where we often feel a need for balance is in our emotions. Many times we simply wish that we could get rid of our worry, fear, self-doubt or other uncomfortable feelings. However, when we tap into the power of complementary patterns, we can see how our worry can introduce us to calm. Our self-doubt can introduce us to confidence. And our fear can introduce us to courage. Being courageous requires us to be both be willing to take a chance and cautious about our actions.
Courage does not promote haphazard actions. Instead, fear is transformed into juice, energy to plan the best course. Courage is part fear and part daring. It’s feeling the fear and continuing to move toward your goal. You’ve probably heard people say, “Feel the fear and do it anyway”. We find our courage in the ability to balance fear and daring. These complementary forces help us create a thoughtful approach.
Think about tornadoes or cyclones for a moment. High-speed air is swirling, sometimes at hundreds of mile per hour, but there’s an eye in the center where everything is calm. When everything is swirling all around you, find your calm place right in the center.
© Sandra Y. Lewis