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.’

Resilience

I have not written a blog for a while. Mostly because a lot has been going on in my personal life.

Today as I write this, I want to re-imagine resilience.

Life is such that there will be sharp corners which are hard to maneuver. It’s like I have been driving a race car but I never stopped at the pit stop to service it. Therefore the drag, the friction and the accumulated wear that has piled onto the car is making it difficult to keep traction on the road. Add to that, force experienced sitting on the driving seat.

What do I take away from this? It’s ok to not be ok. It’s ok to stop at a service station. Just like a race car, our body experiences accumulated stress that can really take a toll when it triggers. What do you do to address this accumulated stress?

When things are really difficult, this is also a good practice that works well for me. What do you not do when things are really difficult? What can you do to slow down to be grateful for the journey so far. This is easier said than done, when it is difficult to let go of the past. Or there are experiences and mistakes from the past, that continue to impact your present.

Believe it or not, writing is a medium for me to stay in the present. It’s hard to turn off the past, when things are difficult. So, I give myself reasons why I should continue to forge on. I give myself reasons why I shouldn’t give up? It’s not that I make up these reasons, these reasons are simply a list of my faults and virtues in the present moment. I list all my virtues and faults that I have or that I think I have. It’s not an easy task to see the goodness within yourself when things are difficult. So, I start with faults and then list out the virtues. The way my mind works, helps me to complete an exercise or task once I start on it. So, I start with the difficult things. This is true in many other aspects too where I always try learn the more difficult stuff first and then fall back onto basics once I realise that I am not at the level required to be learning the advanced stuff. It’s a bad habit of mine I guess. A result of high expectations and ambitions, that result in disappointment and failure and a self-created emotional roller coaster.

Back to the topic of resilience, when things are so difficult, what other things help me? From my experiences, exercise of any sort is one of the best things that can help stay in the present, along with meditation and healthy eating.

What if you can’t afford to eat healthy? This will impact your exercise routine too. I am thinking of this because despite there being so much abundance of resources, many people experience scarcity on a daily basis.

A scarcity mindset only adds to the accumulated stress and the view one takes of different life experiences whether in the present, past or unfolding future events. What can you do to combat this mindset? For different people there will be different ways. I say this, because we all have our belief systems wired into us. You can leverage these belief systems to your advantage if you understand your own system. Or rewire those belief systems, if you think your current ones are rooted in scarcity and a fixed mindset that doesn’t accept changes easily.

With this continuing pandemic, and the many around the world that are suffering under oppression. I hope that you read this and think it, mull it over if you ever come to a point of no return. When you feel so hopeless and much despair that the only thing you think of is, how not to exist!

According to what I believe and many monotheistic religions and other religions will likely share a similar view. Death is inevitable. If there is certainty of one thing, it is death. I also believe that death is predestined. This is a sensitive topic as I can think of a counter argument for it too. But let me write it out, why kill yourself? If you believe that you would die regardless, at your appointed time and place? One could argue that it was predestined perhaps for one to kill themselves. But if you believe that, you forfeit the choice that you have been granted. Your forfeit your freewill. You choose to give up and not make a harder choice which is to live on. True resilience in this situation will be to have patience, perseverance to continue through the midst of storm, thunder and the burdens of life.

True meaning of life is found in responsibilities, purpose, striving to achieve one’s goals.

So, in summary, resilience means to continue forward even when you are experiencing a lot of drag, other forces hindering you. When you experience this, it should only increase your faith, that you were born for a purpose and reason. You were born to achieve great things. Let the journey unfold because life is abundant. It may not seem so in the moment but, I promise you, good days will come, if you continue stepping forward. Push past your pain. Baby steps will do, you can’t fly with broken wings. Not yet!

ps. Writing helps me live in the present. It’s one of the mediums. Gosh! I missed writing. Although, since introducing this new habit a few years back, I have been writing in various other places. This blog has its own special place.

What does resilience mean to you? Share your thoughts.

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.