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 ๐Ÿ˜†

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 ๐Ÿค”

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 ๐Ÿ˜……. 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.’

Progress and Action

My 2 good habits that I have managed to be consistent with, since the lockdown started are: Meditation andย  Exercise.

I started by doing 20 push-ups a day and meditating every morning. Since last summer, I had been very inconsistent with practising martial arts or doing exercise. Perhaps going to counselling and showing up for the sessions kept me weighed down. During the whole process, I was listening to audiobooks, podcasts and watching YT videos as an escape. Escape because, my time was mostly filled by listening to fictional novels from some of my favourite authors. With the start of 2020 and having finished with counselling sessions, I wanted to re-implement some of the good habits that have stuck with me throughout difficult times. The two being meditation and exercise! It’s always these two that help me find balance and reorganise my mind.

This Spring with lockdown in place I tried a new combination of meditation followed by exercise for 90 days… I skipped a few days here and there. Skipped either am or pm session. It didn’t go as I planned, however, I managed to develop these habits back into my daily routine with greater consistency. I was meant to update my daily log of accountability but I really found that a chore lol. Still I started by doing 20 push-ups right after a meditation session. Usually I like meditating after an intense workout and emptying my mind and just sitting with myself observing and enhancing the focus and emptiness… this time, I was meditating first and to reward myself (the brain) I was doing push-ups. The idea being that my brain needs dopamine and endorphins released to feel pleasure and for the habit to stick. I can say that it worked really well. I also went from doing 20 push-ups to 50 push-ups. Then changed it up to 100 push-ups a day (5 sets ร— 20 reps).ย  Now, I have brought another slight change and started to lift weights too. The day I don’t lift weights, I do 100 push-ups. The other days I lift. I still maintain my focus on core strength and flexibility because I want to keep my taekwondo skills up to par.

Why am I sharing this? I can keep carrying on quietly and do what I am doing. My reasons for sharing are simple, everyone goes through different life challenges. You never know what others may find inspirational. I am not really going to post pictures up lol because I hardly take pictures. I don’t have a habit of taking selfies or pictures. So sadly, I don’t have the skinny me before and some after gains haha… The idea behind sharing this is that, you can start no matter your level, start with habits that you want to develop and stick with them, challenge yourself, hold yourself accountable through social media posts or through a friend. Become consistent, do a little bit everyday, rather than not doing anything at all.

Personally for me, consistency matters a lot. If I am able to stay consistent with my habits… hopefully it filters through to other aspects of life too and become consistent with everything I want to do and plan to do. Focussing on the process, not the outcome. The next steps for me are filling in the daily report card with consistency. To see what I am referring to check out these previous posts:

http://macropassions.com/2020/04/05/how-to-motivate-yourself-to-sustain-your-productivity/

http://macropassions.com/2020/02/29/leap-progress-process/

I want this progress and action to filter into my process and auction too.

Until next time,

Put in those reps

The Science of Martial Arts

The field of martial arts is full of showmanship, commercial popularisation,
taking the craft and presenting it as a commodity for the purpose of profits
and earning money. This results in as someone has said, “amateuristic
martial arts are a source of serious wounds.” (The Book of Five Rings)

In the pre-modern era the science of martial arts was an essential science
for the warriors. I will take lessons from what Miyamoto Musashi has written in his books when writing about the science of Martial Arts.

The science of martial arts has evolved in the modern era. However, the base teachings and values remain the same. The science of martial arts involves great skill and master planning. Martial arts in today’s world is seen more so as entertainment, blood sport, competitions and fighting. The military aspect of martial arts has been replaced by advanced weaponry, but the principles still work.

Having explained that, I want to focus on the science of martial arts and
individuals. Just like how, a master plumber is first an apprentice, learning from a teacher; the master martial artists too, start as an apprentice. The mentor-student relationship can be seen everywhere. A master scholar is once a student, a master carpenter is once a student. One cannot expect to be an expert at something without having been mentored/coached/taught by a master.

Why do I stress this? In today’s DIY world, where courses and videos are readily available online. The concept of learning from a teacher/mentor/master has become far-fetched. Many thinks and believe that they
can become experts without having been taught. I was lucky in terms of martial arts to have been taught by expert masters and mentors. The craft, the basics, principles and values were instilled after diligent practise over many years.
Practise is key. Bruce Lee once said that don’t fear a man who has practised a thousand different kicks. Fear a man who has practised the same kick a thousand times. I can apply these principles in other walks of life.

Writing these surprises my own behaviour in other fields. I am reflecting on
other arts, skills that I am trying to hone and how and where I went wrong. One lesson I learnt from that- confidence is good, however, doing something you haven’t successfully done before is a mistake without seeking mentors, teachers and professionals. Still, I am happy that I started off in the right direction and learnt from the professionals/experts, went out explored on my own, learnt lessons and took the right direction by seeking mentors. Depending on many variables, journey in mastering a craft/skill can take many different paths. However, if I can highlight the importance of one thing, i.e. finding the right mentors/teachers to learn from in whatever field you are pursuing is crucial to success.

When one has developed practical knowledge of all the skills of the craft, eventually one can become a master craftsman.A master martial artist has similarities to a music orchestra in a sense that the conductor runs the orchestra smoothly, effectively and skilfully. They know all different instruments within the piece, the notes, the structure. They can see the small details and monitor the flow of the bigger picture.

Coming back to the subject of marital arts practise and individuals. The
science of martial arts and how I have come to understand it, is through the
lens of emptiness, state of flow, fluidity, diligent practise. The purpose of
martial arts is to be able to overcome your foes, however, once you become an expert, you can do so without fighting. Understanding this is important. Master martial artists achieve serenity, calmness and understand its psychology and philosophy. These values in today’s world, in my view, are relatively pertinent compared to the military aspect.

Mastering a martial art helps the individual understand themselves and understand others. It instils discipline, routine, creativity and practise of deep focus.These tools and skills are transferable to many other aspects of an individual’s life. To conclude this, in my view, these latter reasons mentioned is why the traditional form of martial arts must be practised and the spirit kept alive. Once the individual understands the true philosophy of the arts, he understands many aspects of life on a deeper level. For example, personally for me spirituality, focus, and discipline have a huge overlap with the practise of martial arts.