Patterns Archives

everything_is_a_test

Photo credit Fe Langdon, available on Flicker under Creative Commons.

 

Today I want to write about a specific mindset. This mindset, once adopted, can help you grow effectively. Let me first tell you how I discovered it.

The importance of a test

I have been a researcher in pattern recognition, which learns from data in an intelligent way. There are many tools available for a successful data analysis. All of them rely on certain assumptions about the data. Each assumption leads to a specific model. In the majority of the cases, however, the validity of the assumptions cannot be checked for complex data (which is often the case for real data).

I know it’s surprising, but it is true.

There are three reasons behind this. These are:

1) Too little data.

There is way too little data available for the number of unknowns in the model to be estimated

2) Algorithmic efficiency.

Even when huge data collections are at hand, a small sample of the data is used to make all the algorithms both fast and feasible for the task.

3) The lack of mathematical approaches.

No models available for in multivariate representations to check whether the given assumption holds or not.

In theory, when the assumptions about the data are true, then the best model (or one of the best) is exactly the one based on the same assumptions.

How do do you think this translates to practice?

Well …

The practice is a different story. There is usually a gap between theory and practice. You have already guessed it, right? 😉

A complex model theoretically tailored to the data distribution may loose with a seemingly irrelevant simple model. Even if this simple model is derived from a completely different assumption, it may still win with the theoretically the best model possible. It doesn’t have to be like that, of course, but it is often the case.

Why?

Because simpler assumptions lead to a few parameters. And fewer parameters can be better estimated (than the many) when there is little data.

It means that a simple model can often provide a better (though rough) fit, then a complex (hence flexible) model whose parameters are poorly estimated. This inadequate estimation often makes the complex model bad for the task.

This is a controversial point so let me paraphrase it as follows.

Imagine that a simple outline of your silhouette (aka, data) is given to a tailor (which is an algorithm). He hasn’t seen you, but he has some data about you – a rough outline of your body.

A simple model would then translate to a basic and plain dress suited around a few measurements. These may be the neck-line, the waist-line, and the chest. The dress, even though not special, will likely fit you as the basic measurements are sufficiently estimated.

A complex model would correspond to a fancy dress with layers, frills and pockets, and an asymmetric line. Many measurements are now required to have it designed well. Since they are based on your outline only, guesses have to be made. The resulting dress may look stunning, but unwearable because it would not fit. Even if beautiful, the dress may either be too narrow or too wide in wrong parts of the body, so that there is no way for you to squeeze in. 

But… If the tailor is well experienced, he is capable on choosing the right complexity based on a few measurements. He will make the right design that would be perfect for you.

The only way to know it, is to test it.

Everything is a test

In practice, when you want to guarantee the best solution for the given data you will do two things. First, you will consider a number of different models, including a variety of data transformation as well. Secondly, you will train and test them extensively on the new data. This is the data which was unused for the parameter estimation (i.e. the unknown parameters of the model) and kept aside for an evaluation.

It is a necessary step.

Without a well-designed testing stage, the primary results are often too optimistic. Moreover, your initial guesses may be totally wrong. Without rigorous testing, no intelligent solution is found. With the extensive testing and adaptation, the solution will work for new data. This is what you want.

This is a powerful learning point which easily applies to my life and your life. Namely,

What I am talking about here is the mindset, not the literal approach to test every single thing in your life. The mindset will have paramount consequences for your conscious growth.

Let me explain why.

First of all, when you approach a new idea or a habit to your life as a test, it is easy to commit when you know it is meant for your first-hand learning experience. Your goal is to see how this idea (say, a specific time management approach, weight loss program or a nutritional protocol) applies to your personal circumstances in a limited time frame. After a specified time period, you are going to evaluate how well this idea works for you.

The mindset of a tester is a mindset of a person who likes to have fun and see what happens without any specific attachment to the results. Why? Because a test is meant to provide you with feedback. When you accept that you have been just testing, it is easy to modify the approach accordingly or truly abandon it if necessary.

Secondly, if you like the newly tested idea, you choose to adopt it as your long-term habit. Even though it is now ingrained in you, after a year or two, you know you are still in a testing stage, though it is now an advanced test ;). The testing never ends. As a result, you are open to either modify it or leave it when the idea stops serving you.

Test everything

The “test everything” mindset is to enjoy running the tests, while being open to adjust them when needed. This mindset will prevent you from blindly following the gurus or getting into dogmatic thinking. A test is always subjected for an evaluation. You simply allow yourself to question both the assumptions and the results.

This mindset keeps you open for new ideas. It makes you conscious to observe when the ideas you practice have stopped serving you. It usually starts with an insight that something is a bit off track or awkward. You will notice that when your mind is set to the testing stage.

If you, however, accept the idea as an absolute truth because it comes from gurus (advanced research, your beloved one or any other authority – you name it), you may easily continue the practice it until things become so bad for you that you have no other way than connect the dots. A bit too late….

***

A tester’s mind is a versatile and flexible mind. It is a fresh mind, indeed.

As a tester, you give yourself permission to run trials of all kinds, even the ones which lead to negative results. These results are your feedback, which will be intelligently analyzed to tailor the tested approach to your specific condition. 

Choose to be a tester. You will learn a lot, adjust ideas and develop your independent thinking. Such a conscious process will teach you how to make smarter and more effective decisions.

On the top, you will get more fun!

***

 What you are going to test today?

***

 

sitting_kills

 

Sitting kills, who would say that?

Sitting Kills, Moving Heals is a title of a book by Joan Vernikos. It grabs my attention. Why? Because it is a light read with an important message.

Joan is an expert in stress and aging, a former director of Life Sciences at NASA. She was responsible for the health and well-being of the astronauts. It is known that astronauts suffer from a fast physical deterioration when in space. Their muscles become weaker and their immune system is compromised among many other symptoms. They basically experience symptoms of an advanced aging. Joan links these side effects to the lack of gravity.

She suggests that the same mechanism relates to the sedentary lifestyle. When we sit, we totally rely on a chair or couch and we find ourselves in a nearly anti-gravity pose. Joan recommends that we use gravity to our advantage by moving our body as often as possible. This doesn’t sound as anything new as we all know that right exercise promotes health.

The key lies in what we understand by the word “moving“.

Move, sweetheart, move

According to Vernikos exercising a few times a week will not help much if the remaining time is spent predominantly sitting. You will still experience physical deterioration. It is the everyday little movements, often and short, which interrupt sitting (or standing if one stands for long hours) that make the difference and promote health.

She discovers that the very act of standing up from a sitting position is very effective and beneficial for health. Her message is simple:

“Sitting is okay, but it’s uninterrupted sitting that is bad for us.” 

“We are not designed to sit continuously. […] It’s not how many hours of sitting that’s bad for you; it’s how often you interrupt that sitting that is good  for you!

Standing up once per hour is more effective than walking on a treadmill for 15 minutes for cardiovascular and metabolic changes. Sitting down and standing up continuously for 32 minutes does not have the same effect as standing up once, 32 times over the course of a day (the latter is far better).

It’s interesting, isn’t it? To get the benefit, the non-exercise activity has to be spread throughout the day.

This is not a new concept as many bodyworkers will say the same: we are designed to move, not to sit neither stand for long hours.

Why?

Because the balance of the body is constantly being achieved when we move. While the old paradigm views bones and muscles as the structure of a body, a new paradigm views bones as floating in the connective tissue. It’s the connective tissue, the “endless web” that connects and supports. Connective tissue, in response to movement, is the organizing factor of the structure.

In other words, health is not a fixed state, it is being achieved while body is moving. Moment by moment.

The movement we are taking about is the non-exercise movement, such as standing up, kneeling, stretching to reach a book on a shelf, vacuum cleaning, sweep brushing, chopping vegs, shredding cabbage, bending to wash a baby etc. These are all types of movements that were daily companions of our grandparents.

They should be ours as well!

***

The work of Vernikos is not new per se. The importance of movement and gravity dates back to the work of Goldthwait in the beginning of the 20th century (see references below) and later to Ida Rolf. These ideas were however not appreciated, neither incorporated into the medical practice. Luckily, they are being used by bodyworkers.

It is only recently that the prolonged sitting has been brought to the public attention by a number of researchers. The book of Vernikos is important as she adds her unique perspective on the importance of challenging the gravity for our health. “These are all movements, almost below-threshold kind of movements, that do not burn up a lot of calories, as we know them, but that are designed to work against gravity”.

Connective tissue

Why the little frequent non-exercise movements are paramount comes as a consequence of the role of the connective tissue. I’ve been long fascinated by what knowledgeable bodyworkers can achieve in a short time. They use structural alignment and initiation of right processes in the body so that the body can self-align itself. 

Let me cite one of the books by Oschman that explains the importance of the connective tissue:

“The overall form of the body, as well as the architecture and mechanical and functional properties of all of its parts, are largely determined by the local configuration and properties of the connective tissue. All of the so-called great systems of the body […] are ensheathed in and partitioned by connective tissue. The connective tissue forms a continuously interconnected system throughout the living body. All movements, of the body as a whole and of its smallest parts, are created by tensions carried through the connective tissue fabric. It is a liquid crystalline material and its components are semiconductors…”

 

“Connective tissue structure is a record or memory of the forces imposed on the organism. This historical record has two components. The genetic part recapitulates the story of how our ancestors successfully adapted to the gravitational field of the earth. The acquired component is a record of the choices, habits, and traumas we have experienced during our individual lifetime. The collagen fibers orient in a way that can best support future stresses, assuming the organism continues the same patterns of movement or disuse.”

This all means that any injury, habitual or prolonged patterns (such as sitting) will be recorded into the connective tissue. In response, misaligned body leads to disturbance in patterns of neural activity, blood and lymph flow and muscular contraction. In a long term it will result in groups of immobilized and flaccid muscles that reduce nutrition and oxygenation of cells and tissues. The body becomes tense and then various health issues and diseases may arise.

It is the overall tension release and frequent non-exercise movements that contribute to our health, as any change in habits, even slight, will alter the connective tissue architecture.

 The data

Except of the importance of understanding the role of connective tissue, a physiology of inactivity comes to the surface. When you sit for long hours, your body does things that are bad for you.

For instance, consider LPL, lipoprotein lipase, which is a “fat-storing enzyme”.  It is produced by many tissues, including muscles, and it plays a key role in how body processes fat. LPL is significantly reduced during sitting (or inactivity), and increases with activity. It attaches to triglycerides from the blood and transports them to the muscles. It splits them into fatty acids, which are stored in fat cells.

Low levels of LPL are associated with a number of health problems, including heart disease. So, when you sit, your metabolism slows down (leg muscles don’t produce LPL). According to Vernikos, a very effective activity for the LPL surge is standing up from sitting.

Even though the studies are not very extensive yet, the data are clear. Too much sitting leads to increased risks of various diseases and premature death.

Chair is basically an enemy of your health.

  • A study published in the journal of Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise 41: 998-1005, Sitting time and mortality from all causes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer looked at the fates of more than 17000 Canadians over the span of 12 years. The results present a warning: the mortality risk from all causes was 1.54 times higher among people with daily sedentary lifestyle compared to those who sat infrequently

“Experimentally reducing normal spontaneous standing and ambulatory time had a much greater effect on LPL regulation than adding vigorous exercise training on top of the normal level of nonexercise activity. Those studies also found that inactivity initiated unique cellular processes that were qualitatively different from the exercise responses. In summary, […] the average nonexercising person may become even more metabolically unfit in the coming years if they sit too much, thereby limiting the normally high volume of intermittent nonexercise physical activity in everyday life.”

“Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, colon cancer, breast cancer, dementia and depression constitute a cluster of diseases, which defines ‘a diseasome of physical inactivity’. Both physical inactivity and abdominal adiposity, reflecting accumulation of visceral fat mass, are associated with the occurrence of the diseases within the diseasome.[…] Physical inactivity appears to be an independent and strong risk factor for accumulation of visceral fat, which again is a source of systemic inflammation. Chronic inflammation is involved in the pathogenesis of insulin resistance, atherosclerosis, neurodegeneration and tumour growth.[…]

The finding that muscles produce and release myokines provides a conceptual basis to understand the mechanisms whereby exercise influences metabolism and exerts anti-inflammatory effects. According to our theory, contracting skeletal muscles release myokines, which work in a hormone-like fashion, exerting specific endocrine effects on visceral fat. Other myokines work locally within the muscle via paracrine mechanisms, exerting their effects on signalling pathways involved in fat oxidation.”

  • There is also a study entitled Breaks in Sedentary Time: Beneficial associations with metabolic risk in Diabetes Care Journal 2008, 31:4, 661-666, which provides evidence in favor of interrupting the sitting time frequently. A larger number of breaks are associated with better metabolic profiles, including waist circumference and glucose metabolism.

Take away message

 Even if you run every day or regularly work-out, it doesn’t matter much to your health if you spend most of the day sitting, be it your car, your office chair or your couch. You are at an increased risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, a variety of cancers and an early death.

In short:

Uninterrupted sitting kills you. Slowly. Very slowly. Before you notice. Tweet: Uninterrupted sitting kills you. Slowly. Very slowly. Before you notice. See http://www.elapekalska.com/5085/sitting-kills-moving-heals/

However …

You can change your lifestyle by incorporating a few simple steps that will improve your odds (of a good health) drastically:

  • Stand up frequently, ideally every 20-30min.
  • Move throughout the work day. Walk around, do some stretching or eye exercises, do a few squats, reach for a book, clean your desk, prepare your herbal infusion (such as nettle).
  • Stand or walk when you can. Do it when you are actively thinking, talking over phone or discussing an idea with others. You can also transform your desk to allow you to work while standing.
  • Sit on an exercise ball. It calls your core muscles for action and helps improve balance and flexibility.
  • Use a rocking chair while you relax, watch TV or read. Rocking chairs encourage the activity of your muscles. See e.g. this page or that article.
  • Reduce TV or computer time at home.
  • Practice stretching or core stability exercises.

Resources:

Books by Joan Vernikos:

Books by James Oschman:

Work of Goldthwait:

  • Body Mechanics and Health by Joel Ernest Goldthwait and Leah Coleman Thomas
  • “The Relation of Posture to Human Efficiency and the Influence of Poise Upon the Support and Function of the Viscera” by Joel Ernest Goldthwait in Boston Medical and Surgerical Journal 161: 839-848, 1909.

Books by Ida Rolf:

Connective tissue:

***

Photo courtesy Dita Actor, available under the Creative Commons license on Flickr.

***

simplicity_complexity

Simplicity vs complexity

Simplicity originates from seeing the Essence.

Whether something is considered as simple or complex depends on the level of consciousness. The complex becomes simple when your understanding grows.

The key to understand a problem, a concept or an event in a simple way is to get to the essence of things and see how they fit together as well as how they fit into a bigger picture.

A complex phenomenon can be made simple through (a smart) organization. When intelligently organized, its representation usually yields more effectiveness and efficiency than when the opposite holds.

Such a smart organization it is being practiced in art, math or science by the use or an extension of modularity. Modularity is achieved by building blocks of nested complexity such that simple operations are needed to relate or combine these blocks in a meaningful way.

An example

Let’s consider an example in math of a sum and an integral. First we need to define numbers (natural, integers, rational and real), then a sum of two elements. This is further extended to a sum of multiple elements. Knowing what a sum is, we define a more complex structure which is a series, that is an infinite sum. This can be understood through a limit of partial sums. In order to arrive at a finite number, the series has to be convergent.

The structure of a series is now the basis to define an integral. Having a structure of integral, we can define simple operations and make calculations on the level of integrals forgetting these are infinite summations. And so, we can estimate area or probability by using these high level concepts.

The development of technology, such as app-oriented programming, click-touch-and-connect devices, identification or recognition systems, feeds on such modular organizing principle, similarly as natural languages do.

Complexity and the level of details

This brings us to the view that perhaps all problems can be perceived as problems of complexity. If we don’t now how to approach them, this happens because their formulation escapes our current way of organization, be it thoughts, models, techniques or tools.

Simplicity looks at similarity. We need the similarity in order to find commonalities.
Complexity looks at the differences. We need the differences in order to discriminate. 
A solution which is simple is still an interplay between similarity and difference, yet in the right proportions.

Unnecessary complexity arises when you are on the level of too many details. Details account for variability, individuality, exceptions, forms, partial views and shadows. They make life surely interesting, yet when in abundance, they clutter the view and hide the Essence.

There is no way for you to see the emerging behavior of ants if you with your eyes are on their level. It is hard to solve problems if you dwell in them. It is hard to make a breakthrough if you constantly keep thinking and exploring the views, angles, positions and details.

As you need your 3D perspective to recognize the patterns of ants, you need a different level of consciousness to find your solutions. This comes naturally when you detach and begin to ask the questions that matter.

The simplest choices can make you happy.
The simplest strategies can lead to success.
The simplest solutions can solve the most complex problems.

***

Truth originates from basic foundations.
Truth is simple. If it isn’t, then it’s being formulated in a complex way.
Your challenge is to simplify it.

 ***

The photo above comes from a museum in Cardiff, made some time ago.

 

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Do opinions matter?

People often have opinions on things that are trivial, easily understood or based on common experience. They may either like or hate your style, your decisions or the way you rear kids. They may easily criticize your actions and your work.

 How do you take it on?

  • Are you upset or depressed after the slightest criticism?
  • Do you feel a knot in your stomach when people judge both you and your work?
  • Are you defending yourself to prove the critic is wrong? 
  • Are you debating over and over again of how to respond to a negative feedback?

Or, … do you just notice it, register and move on?

Well, one of the keys to personal mastery is the ability to distinguish whom to listen to and whom to ignore. It is of course not always easy because opinions can be harsh and they may evoke strong emotions. They may touch you at some very personal level. They may deeply hurt you, especially when you feel they are unjust.

If somebody judges you as fat, ugly, unskilled, stupid or alike, does it affect you? Even if you are such, so what? If this is a fact, it is a fact and that’s it.

But …

Is the critic perfect herself? Is she skinny, beautiful, skilled and smart? Does she provide you not only with the opinion but also a practical way of making things better?

Why do people criticize?

A simple answer is this: people either want to add value (contribute) to your (or their) development or put you down so that they can feel worthy and successful. The latter usually happens because of jealousy, feelings of insecurity or their lack of self-esteem.

However …

Even if they want to add value it doesn’t mean it is of use to you. A general piece of advice may be well meant but completely irrelevant.
Even if they want to put you down, it doesn’t mean that you need to respond to it. Just thank them for the feedback and perhaps challenge them with naming their intentions.

Opinions matter

When people are confronted with a difficult subject, they stay silent. On the other hand, when people are confronted with an easy subject, everybody has an opinion.

There is an interesting concept by Parkinson on the Law of Triviality or the importance of the bike-shed. I now cite a big piece from Wikipedia because it is perfect to explain the point. Read on.

Cyril Northcote Parkinson’ [..] dramatizes this “law of triviality” with the example of a committee’s deliberations on an atomic reactor, contrasting it to deliberations on a bicycle shed. As he put it: “The time spent on any item of the agenda will be in inverse proportion to the sum involved.” A reactor is used because it is so vastly expensive and complicated that an average person cannot understand it, so one assumes that those that work on it understand it. On the other hand, everyone can visualize a cheap, simple bicycle shed, so planning one can result in endless discussions because everyone involved wants to add a touch and show personal contribution.

 

[…] Parkinson writes about a finance committee meeting with a three-item agenda.

 

The first is the signing of a $10 million contract to build a reactor, the second a proposal to build a $2,350 bicycle shed for the clerical staff, and the third proposes $57 a year to supply refreshments for the Joint Welfare Committee.

 

The $10 million number is too big and too technical, and it passes in 2.5 minutes.

 

The bicycle shed is a subject understood by the board, and the dollar amount within their life experience, so committee member Mr. Softleigh says that an aluminium roof is too expensive and they should use asbestos. Mr. Holdfast wants galvanized iron. Mr. Daring questions the need for the shed at all. Mr. Holdfast disagrees.

 

Parkinson then writes: “The debate is fairly launched. A sum of $2,350 is well within everybody’s comprehension. Everyone can visualize a bicycle shed. Discussion goes on, therefore, for forty-five minutes, with the possible result of saving some $300. Members at length sit back with a feeling of accomplishment.”

 

Parkinson then described the third agenda item, writing: “There may be members of the committee who might fail to distinguish between asbestos and galvanized iron, but every man there knows about coffee – what it is, how it should be made, where it should be bought – and whether indeed it should be bought at all. This item on the agenda will occupy the members for an hour and a quarter, and they will end by asking the Secretary to procure further information, leaving the matter to be decided at the next meeting.”

It’s interesting, isn’t it? There are multiple parallels to it in real life.

So …

You will always be faced with opinions of others or given unsolicited advice, especially about surface issues. Why? Because these are easy to make, there is a conversation / confrontation going on and the sense of fulfillment that the critic’s day has not been lost 😉

Some people choose to be offended by what you do or say, or like to play the victim role, just because it is their style. They love to gossip, judge and make you feel inferior, so that they can feel better themselves.

Sometimes, the criticism is intended for your best interest, simply because your friends, family or teachers do worry about your decisions, your kids and your future. This is their worry though, not yours.

Sometimes, the criticism is meant to save the critics because your acting or thinking shakes their world too much.The best defense is attack, as some say, and the criticism will be as sharp as a laser to protect their own homeostasis.

Although opinions matter, you need to take them with a pinch of salt. Or, two ;).

How to handle criticism

If you get opinions, judgements and criticism, just notice them and determine whether they are of any value.

The key is to ask yourself:
“Is this person in the position I want to be? Is he/she an expert on the subject involved?”

Are you getting criticism of starting a business from people who have never had one?
Are you getting marriage advice from friends who can’t hold their own relationships?
Are you getting judgements on your change in carrier from people who are scared to change?

It’s easy to point out things you’re doing wrong, or how you should think, act and achieve things. It is sufficient for you to recognize a negative feedback, look at it with your filter of indifference on, apply it when appropriate and discard it otherwise. It may take you years before you learn this attitude, but you will eventually reach this point so if you decide to.

The power to control your reactions and attitudes to bad comments or harsh judgements is necessary for a personal mastery.

You don’t have to listen to everyone out there.
You don’t have to take all the criticism on equal basis.

Just remember that opinions are in the eye of the beholder.
Only some opinions deserve your attention.
The rest is to pass.

 ***

The image above shows a beautiful quilt by Inge Duin. See more of her works on  www.ingeduin.nl.

 

being_whole

 

Lines, circles and spirals

Imagine a straight line. It can be used to measure a length or a distance. It is there. It defines a boundary. It divides.

A straight line is about the number 2. Two points, the beginning and the end or moving along from the point A to the point B. It suggests a steady progress.  It is stable. It is predictable. Perhaps, it is an ideal.

Imagine a circle. It is created when you join the two end points of the straight line. It is about the number 12, as we usually divide the circle into 12 equal intervals, each 15 degrees, similarly as we have put the 12 hour measurements on the clock.

The circle is a closed and complete system. It goes around and never dies. There is an endless repetition, a change of hours, months, seasons or patterns.

There is a balance. There is a circular movement of a pendulum, a swing between polarities and everything in between. Perhaps a circle is about perfection because we capture symmetry, balance and the repetition of patterns.

Imagine a spiral. It is created when you attempt to connect the straight line into a circle but you finally don’t. The end becomes a beginning to something new, moving away from a circle. There are 13 points, at least. The 13th point is the step out of the balance and repetition. And then we may extend this spiral to grow bigger and bigger or contract it to make it smaller and smaller.  Alternatively, you may also think about a spiral in which each circle is a similar type of repetition as the one before but on a different level.

The spiral is an open system with the beginning and the end.
It is disturbing, because it is unsure where it leads to. There are new things on the way. Perhaps a spiral is a pattern of reality because we capture both the repetition and the change.

The symbols

The straight line is here a symbol of a stable life, with steady growth and progress. There is a daily routine, a sustained effort which directly translates to appropriate results. Life is perhaps boring but things are under control. The point, however, is that it doesn’t happen this way. And if it does, it is for a short while only.

The circle represents the balance between the polarities and everything in between. It is a symbol of repetition and going through the same stages. It is a symbol of life in balance between qualities and quantities, always the same. There are no or little surprises and this may be comforting for some.  There is however little learning too.

The spiral represents the change, learning and growth. Certainly, a conscious growth.  It is here a symbol of life. Not surprisingly, we find the pattern of spiral in the plant and animal kingdoms, as well as the formation of galaxies. They speak to us about growth!

What do we want to believe?

We want to believe in an illusion of a happy life, with stability and good income, perfect health, great kids, wonderful marriage, joyful friends and little problems. We want things to be predictable. We want to identify life with steady progress, reliability, moving from A to B. We want to think straight line.

It is not so.

We want to believe in the repetition of patterns, maintaining the balance between polarities, moving kindly between our needs and responsibilities, managing compromises, being patient and kind and always in control. We want to believe that when we balance things well, we live our perfect life of a circle.

It is not so.

On being whole

What we need to believe, or in fact accept, is the reality which includes the repetition of patterns for the sake of routine and order, but also unpredictability, chaos and confusion. Every day encompasses the circle of hours twice, yet every day is different. We change, from moment to moment, from day to day or from year to year. Even our solar system moves in the space, so the earth rotating around the sun doesn’t come into the same place ever again. It spirals in the space!

Spiral is about movement, change and evolution.

I think that spiral is a good symbol for life. When we are tired or lost, when we question our difficulties or events, when we dream about control and progress, let us remember that we are changing and growing. We are becoming. We are expanding in our consciousness and understanding. 

Every moment is different. Every moment is new. Every moment is to live it through. 🙂

If we take a spiral as an idea of growth, we become to understand that balance is flexible, being practiced in a moment. When we gracefully accept what comes and look at things with an eye of an enthusiastic learner, we begin to approach wholeness.

The secret is that we don’t need to change or improve or heal or suffer to become whole. We accept ourselves as a whole and start from there.

We then stop dividing and judging ourselves and others (the line approach). We then stop expecting the same movement between polarities and the control of events (the circle approach). Instead, we appreciate surprises, unpredictability and a little confusion. We learn from patterns, yet we choose to live in a moment to the best of what we can.

Confusion and chaos are welcomed as a part of life, similarly as health and diseases, births and deaths, progress and regress or work and rest. We understand that change may be difficult and scary and we are gentle with ourselves. The spiral approach is to accept and nourish ourselves and others. It is simple and effective as we both let go and go with the flow

Let us grow happily!

***

Photo courtesy John McStravick, available under the Creative Commons license on Flickr.

***

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