Balancing Our Lives
Today began with watching a video from a good friend in which he talked about the principal of Kuzushi, or breaking balance, in martial arts.
So, what is it, you may well ask?
It is a Japanese term for unbalancing an opponent in martial arts. As such, it is refers to not just an unbalancing, but the process of putting an opponent to a position, where his stability, hence the ability to regain uncompromised balance for attacking is destroyed. (Wikipaedia)
I then read a fascinating article on Kuzushi, here: http://judoinfo.com/kuzushi/ – however there was an interesting section of that article that I am going to paraphrase now because it rather sums up part of our human frailty, our relationship with our thinking, and other areas of my working life, as a coach of many colours!
Getting in Our Own Way
Most people do a fine job of getting mentally off-balance by tripping over the metaphorical paving stones of their lives with monotonous regularity.
When we have an awareness of the Inside-Out nature of Reality, life becomes a whole heap simpler and easier. We understand how everything that we experience is constructed – on the INSIDE – from our perceptual predictions, and conclusions, which are nothing more than an entire THOUGHT PROCESS in action!
The illusion that catches us out – every time – is that we have been, since a very young age, guided to see the world on the OUTSIDE and believe that everything out there is REALLY happening to us. This is the very real illusion of the Outside-In nature of Reality!
There is a third factor at play here – otherwise the Inside-Outers would spend their lives in a state of perpetual enlightenment! And that third factor is this:-
Our HUMAN FRAILTY
Even if we DO have an understanding of Inside-Out, we will still get caught out in moments of Human Frailty!
And there is a quote by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin that points us towards what is happening in these moments
“We are not Human Beings having a Spiritual Experience.
We are Spiritual Beings having a Human Experience.”
However, the good thing about our having an Understanding of the Inside-Out nature of Reality is that even with our human frailties, we can return to a place of mental Groundedness in a much more quick and timely way – rather akin to “HITTING the mind’s RESET BUTTON!”
During the period of complete re-alignment of my Inner Life, at the end of 2016, I staged – and won – a pitched battle with my Ego. Since that time, I have only once succumbed to Ego peddling his Outside-In wares. And, after some soul-searching, I vowed then that I would confront Ego every time from then on – rather than take a softer and more benign approach. As I saw it, my life is far too short to wait for things to settle down and return to a ground.
** Dan Millman
Feeling the Imbalance
One way to view our relationship with our Thinking is to be aware that our Personal Self, (our EGO) is looking to catch us out at every opportunity that we give that part of us; when our guard is down, when we are vulnerable, when we are FRAIL.
This is when our relationship with our Thinking is in a place of IMBALANCE.
Ego recognises and thrives on IMBALANCE, sometimes even on any degree of imbalance – no matter how small. Yet, at these moments, our greater self can also recognise – by feeling in the body – that there is IMBALANCE. This, for me, is the trigger to confront.
Drawing on the martial arts parallel, it is certainly not easy for Ego to attack our frailty without using a force and movement that makes Ego also vulnerable – to a counter attack.
Learning to take advantage of your Ego’s own imbalance requires a finely tuned sense of timing. In order to be at the right place at the right time, you generally have to anticipate Ego’s movements, which is a skill that requires a great deal of self-knowledge and practical experience.
It is a skill akin to applying a form of Kuzushi in our own, mental, Inner Martial Arts.
Another way to apply mental Kuzushi is to force Ego into a weak position.
There are many ways of being that will result in your Ego responding in a predictable way so that you can anticipate it and take advantage of it.
Ego feeds off all the personal stuff. This is a crucial point to remember.
In everyday life, Ego will remind us when we notice that we have been taken advantage of – or have been overlooked. This, you could say, is the “Don’t you know who I am?” factor.
One of my life-long issues, betes-noire if you like, is around queueing. This is the whole thing of “waiting your turn” and then being upstaged by someone who has just arrived, caught the eye of the server, and has pushed in when the server asks, “Who’s next?”
Ego eagerly reminds me, “Stand up for yourself! You’ve dutifully and respectfully waited, and they’ve pushed in and shown NO respect. Tell them – tell them! Don’t just lie down like a meek lamb. You’re better than this! You are worthy of being treated better than a simple nobody!”
Ego and our Values
When we investigate, elicit and catalogue our Values – a great fact-finding exercise of our inner, yet human, self – we need to cultivate an additional awareness.
And this is the thing:-
It is RIGHT HERE, in the highly personal area of Values, where Ego really thrives and can totally and regularly upset our apple-cart!
For although our main Values can be our greatest drivers and inspirational attributes, they are also HIGHLY PERSONAL. We hold them much nearer to our sense of Identity than say our ability to dance well, or our choice of holiday destination, or the make of car we drive.
Personal is the lingua franca of the Ego.
I’ve already pointed out that RESPECT is a highly placed Value for me, and how I invest far too much of myself, my Identity, into that Value.
Another, for me, in this area is Generosity.
Add Generosity to Respect and I’m slipping towards vulnerable – especially when I hold a door open for someone, usually a lady (since I was taught as a boy to do such chivalrous, good-mannered things.) If I’m thanked or acknowledged, then the NOW moment moves on. If the person sweeps by, nose-in-the-air and with a disdainful curl of the lip, then I’m already bristling. Ego steps in, goading me to react.
Another is my sense of Fair Play (a spin-off of Respect). In fact, the whole thing of Fair Play has led me towards some very bad behaviour at times … whenever I am called, or thought of as, A CHEAT. Cheating is an anathema to me – and Fair Play is again very close to my Identity. Being called a Cheat is probably worse than someone insulting my Mother – daft though it may seem.
EGO feeds a lot in and around these high-grade personal Values.
For me, Tenacity and Passion and Respect, are key components of a Warrior Spirit, and will enable me to live with a peaceful heart. The battles and wars are all Inner and all my own.
I have been fortunate, and I have defeated Ego. Occasionally Ego sends out a raiding party, to plunder what he can from my Peace. Most of the time I am aware and comfortable in my vigilance.
And when Ego takes off with a little more spoils than expected … then there is always a new dawn tomorrow. This is when Groundedness returns with further Insights and Understandings, and life returns to a state of equilibrium, where everything is in balance once more.
Life goes on, unfolding day by day. With balance in our lives, everything we do and every action we take is remarkably uncluttered! There is an ease to life, and we seem to be aware of so much more space and time to do things!
When we start to get in our own way, then there’s clutter at every turn.
** Dan Millman
Dan Millman’s book, Body Mind Mastery was one of the very first books to accompany me on this journey of discovery. By the time I came to read Way of the Peaceful Warrior, (see link below) I was already well down the road to a new and permanent perspective.