What do I talk about when I talk about balance?

One of my starting posts on this blog site was about Balance.

As I write this blog, I want to reflect on balance once more. What do I talk about when I talk about balance? Rather, imagining balance once more.

To summarise my previous blog, if you don’t feel like clicking on the link above or here, I wrote about emotions felt as a result of imbalance. I then, presented 2 ways of dealing with this imbalance to find balance. 1) Solution oriented approach 2) Getting at the root causes approach. I then added a bit of wisdom from one of my favourite characters uncle Iroh. Wish he was my real uncle lol 😆

Here’s another one of my favourites

I could just post all the Uncle Iroh’s pins and end this blog. But let me reflect on balance 🤔

Hope and strength is what you give yourself in dark times. That is the true meaning of strength. This is another one of Uncle Iroh’s quotes. I wanted to expand on hope.

What is hope? If I take no action towards my goals, can I hope to reach them?

If I refuse to change my habits or set ways, can I still hope for a better future?

True hope is having done the work, put in the effort and then hoping for the best. But the temporal nature of this life is such that, amidst this true hope, we can fall victim to other vices that can create imbalance within us.

An example, I write this blog for my self-development, reflections and sharing it so that, others who can relate to my thoughts can perhaps find benefit from it. But then, I start getting big headed and start thinking that I am wise and start boasting about my work and knowledge. This results in arrogance and the kind of arrogance whose roots can grab hold of the thinking, ‘that I am better than others’.

I prefer relating examples to myself because I don’t want to mention anybody else. It’s simple to use myself as an example, it’s also an antidote to keep a check on myself. It’s also a way to keep humble and knowing whether any of these vices taint my mind and/or heart.

While not with this blog, I have surely tried to get ahead of myself in other endeavours. Not thinking of myself better than others, but rather over exaggerating my skills in my own mind. This is also arrogance. Arrogance that makes me forget gratitude. Arrogance that makes me break my rules. Arrogance that causes me to praise myself and think how good I am because of my recent streak, processes and actions. Failing to acknowledge the real cause of my skills and failure to remain humble. Forgetting that all the skills, wisdom, intelligence, good habits that I have gained at all points is attributed to God alone. What I am trying to say is that ‘True Hope’ is having hope in the ‘Divine Decree’, on the condition that I do my best, put in the effort and then hope to not fall into the traps of my ego and whims. Hope to fall in love with the repeatable process to make it my instinct. Hope to improve so I can systematise it. Or better yet, another one of uncle Iroh’s quotes would fit well here.

Get help from others in areas where you are weak. Doing this over and over, you can start to see some of your blind spots. You can start to see your learnt behaviours and patterns.

I am going to pivot away from all the talk and reflection and finish this by saying, what can help me the most is being comfortable with uncertainty. It is indeed difficult to be patient over something that you don’t have knowledge of, or control. And what helps to be comfortable is meditation. It works well so long as I am not neglecting others areas and aspects of life. It is difficult to move forward keeping everything in balance. Especially when balance is frail in the first place 😅…. even then balance, contentment, equanimity can be achieved via staying and living in the present.

ps. I got the idea for the title from Haruki Murakami’s memoir ‘What I talk about when I talk about running.’

Blind Spots

One of my biggest blind spots that has continually sabotaged me has been trying to stay and act strong. When in real time, I am mentally exhausted, my emotions are not in my control.

I don’t know whether to call this a personality or character fault. It happens under high pressured scenarios where FFF response hijacks me. Looking back I can see situations where my biggest mistakes were made in freeze or fight back mode. I am trying to think of a situation where flight caused me to make mistakes. If anything, taking a step back or fleeing/ running away, seems a better option when hijacked by the emotional brain i.e., amygdala. There is no shame in surviving, live to fight another day.

As a martial arts practitioner…. what will I choose when hijacked by my emotional brain? Fight, flight or freeze? Definitely not freeze… it’s either fight or flight and the judgement call somewhat comes from experience and practise. Exposure to fighting experiences. Once more there is no shame in surviving to live to fight another day, from a position of strength. A martial arts practitioner is a smart fighter, who knows when and when not to engage in battles. He understands that there maybe losing battles, but the war is won by strategy and plan. Damn… I am starting to sound like Sun Tzu. 😅

I am writing this because I am trying to assess why in different situations, my nature is to fight back but that’s because in real time, I cannot tell that my emotional brain has hijacked me. This happens under high pressured scenarios.

Going forwards what procedures or process can I put in place to avoid this pitfall? Flight is a good option that gives me a chance to step back, cut the loss short. It gives me a chance to step away, however, it will only be effective if I can be aware in real time. The emotional brain can be very tricky and often it is very hard to know what is happening until the damage is done.I have failed to do this over and over again. I have made a lot of mistakes in life, in high pressured scenarios, in high performance activities. I guess the only way to overcome these faults of mine is by sticking to a process. It’s easier said than done in real time. But if I am able to take corrective action especially to something I have been blind for so long. I can avoid pitfalls and sabotaging behaviour. I can minimise it, I can keep it under check.

I also know that it will not happen overnight and that it will take further practise. In pursuit of any craft, deliberate practise with focused attention is what builds the necessary skills. That said, I am glad to at least have gained this knowledge through constantly reviewing my own work, performances and analysing fights.

The reason why I like to compare my behaviour and my responses in martial arts to other high performance activities is because my experience and skills are greater in martial arts than other high performance endeavours and skills I am pursuing. It provides me an opportunity to assess my nature, my learnt behaviours. By nature I am fiesty, I do not like losing, I am competitive. I like to do better each time. I am impatient and act often without thinking. Knowing all my faults, the only thing that can save me from myself is a process- one of deliberate practise with focused attention.

To summarise this to myself and hopefully it helps you too, my biggest blind spot is keep on fighting even when hijacked by the amygdala. Why? Because my character has been shaped over years such that I act strong even when I am not. Here perhaps what I am seeing is the double edged sword that resilience is. However, it is not resilience that keeps me fighting. It is my emotions.

How to win over hate?

So, last night I was rewatching one of my favourite childhood shows. “Samurai Jack”

Long ago…. in a lol everytime I recall samurai Jack, either the intro or the phrase ‘jump good’ pops up in my head. Do you remember the episode when Aku is surprised seeing Jack flying and says, “You can flyyyyyy….” Jack replies, “No, jump good”

Jack really should have gone back in time to his home in that episode. But they cut it off there. I don’t remember what happens after.

Anyway, I was supposed to talk about this other episode. The episode is titled, ‘Jack vs Mad Jack”.

In this episode Jack faces the hate, frustration, anger and rage within him. It takes his mirror image physically through Aku’s magic and battles him. One could say that it is also his ego. When he battles his ego and the evil Jack… everything around is getting burnt and the forest is catching fire. Watching it, I couldn’t help but think of that proverb, the hate within you destroys everything around you. The hate within you consumes you. Jack is also struggling to beat his evil self. He gets hurt fighting the hate and rage until he finally realises that the only way to beat hate, frustration and anger is to let go!

So, this is what Jack does… He lets it go! He calms himself, straightens his hair, ties it in a knot, looks deep within and destroys the hate inside him by letting go. In doing so, the evil Jack vanishes and the magic loses it power.

In today’s polarised world, where a brother picks up arms against his own brother, where 2 people with different opinions can’t hold a thoughtful debate, where riots and protests have become the answer, inequality is on the rise…. the answer is winning over hate.

Be like Samurai Jack, destroy the hate and anger within you and let it go… because if you don’t, it will destroy everything around you. In the process, it will consume you.

Here’s the clip of the episode Jack vs Jack, a powerful lesson from a children’s animation. https://youtu.be/SUhmVfAvdSs

Picture credit: Samurai Jack Wiki