There is a time

There is a time.
There is a season.
There is a rhythm.

Every rhythm is a repetition of patterns. (While we often think these are cyclical, in fact, the cyclical repetitions evolve along spirals.)

The simplest one involves two extremes, say “in” and “out”, action and rest or “up” and “down”, and the middle point or the center.  

You take the breath in. You pause. You breath out.
You plant the seeds. You wait. You reap out.
You learn. You practise. You apply.
You work. You flow. You rest.

It is the space, the break, the moment when you pause, when things begin to happen. It is of crucial importance. Sometimes, the crossing of this middle point is barely noticeable, while other times it lasts infinitely long. As it seems.

The “in” is the active receiving or taking in. It is often the most difficult, time consuming stage, because it involves intent, gathering of the data, hard work and conscious effort.

The middle point is a spark that ignites the necessary processes of assimilation and transformation. The progress is hardly observable at this stage.

The “out” is the generous giving away or giving back. It is only a release, after the things have been assimilated, digested, understood or worked out.

When you have a time (a week, a month, a year or a decade) that feels unproductive, with lack of progress and motivation, filled with missed opportunities, rejected projects or failed accomplishments, remember that there are also times when things happen with grace. There are times you fly and there are times you walk.

It is pointless to keep forcing a day to arrive when the night is long and deep.
It is ineffective to take action for the sake of doing something when the right solution is being worked out.
It is immature to leave for a journey when you are not packed yet.

You can’t make an adult from a small child, neither collect the fruits from the seeds. The forced solution will not hold.  Instead, you need to understand the stage you are in, appreciate it and blend in.

Relax.

It is okey to wait for the right time.

Because …

There is a season.
There is a rhythm.
There is a tide.

Wait for your tide. It is coming soon.

 ***

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

 

“It is an old ironic habit of human beings to run faster when we have lost our way.” 
Rollo May

Paraphrazing the quote above, we run faster or attempt to do more when we are lost, overwhelmed and don’t know what to do.

Turning back, being still or letting go may be the hardest things under the sun because they require trust.

Instead of stopping what we have been doing so far, we often prefer to act even more. Taking action and handling urgent tasks leaves us with a tangible feeling that something is being done. We feel as if we are moving towards a solution.

The higher the level of busyness, the faster we seemingly move. 

What if we are moving in a wrong direction?

***

I’ve been busy, oftentimes too busy, most of my adult life. If this busyness had been directly related to the results I would have moved mountains by my achievements. I didn’t, however. I curved shapes in a few rocks, instead. 

There are two strong reasons behind it. First, I grew up believing that only hard work for long hours would produce results. I have spent countless hours working very hard. I believed these were necessary for success, even though many hours were unproductive. In fact, I could have better used them for rest to maintain balance

Secondly, I’m a polymath i.e. a person who has too many interests to selectively focus on a few only. I want to be an expert in multiple unrelated fields, but not necessarily the top 1%. Top 5% sounds good enough 😉 

Understanding. It took me years to understand the following. Hard work is essential for success. It is hard work, but not arbitrary hard work. It is hard work of a certain kind and quality, in agreement with the principle of rhythm. This means that rest, thinking time and playful creativity are as important as intensive work is. 

Being busy the right way

I believe a structured busyness is healthy for us. What I mean is a daily structure in which you work on your goals, projects, products or ideas. Following your vision.

Any meaningful achievement requires dedication and effort, which is work. At the same time, any meaningful achievement consists of multiple small steps and some “a-ha moments”. Such insights only arise when there is sufficient space and stillness in which the creative process is able to unfold on its own.

Being still or playful is a necessary ingredient of the structured busyness. Knowing how to follow the rhythm of work and rest is an indispensable skill to master. It is the key to success.

The danger comes from overwork and being too busy all the time. This means an endless to-do list and flood of tasks, projects, ideas, and work to handle. Such an approach is especially draining on the mental level. Over-busyness and hard work all the time is counter-productive and often leads to permanent stress, burnout or an illness. I guess we all know that. 

What lies beneath continuous busyness

I see three factors behind overwork and busyness.

The first factor is rooted in either an inaccurate self-image or/and self-esteem, or fear. The fear may be of various kind but it is usually a fear of rejection, loneliness or failure. This manifests as the inability of saying “no”, when we want to please everybody and be friends with everybody. We are afraid that people may stop liking us with all the consequences of this.  

On the other hand, the same factor may manifest as having too high standards for deliverables, which is related to perfectionism and feelings of obligation. We believe we have to be spotless and expect the same from others. In both cases, the inability of saying “no” or perfectionism lead to more tasks and responsibilities than it is possible to handle. 

Partial solution: Accept yourself and value yourself.  Learn to simplify and say “no”. It is a laser focus that delivers results.

The second factor behind busyness is ineffective work. Busy people are usually quite efficient, but not effective. Remember that efficiency means doing things right, which is about doing particular tasks well. Effectiveness means doing the right things i.e. things that matter in the context of our job, goal, task or purpose etc. 

Example. Imagine you receive 100 emails daily on average. To handle this you have perfectly optimized your inbox structure. Your inbox structure is complex to allow for all type of messages and actions to be taken. While this may be a great solution, it is hugely inefficient. Assuming that it takes you 2min per email, we arrive at more than 3h of handling emails daily – time that could have been spent better otherwise. 

In this context an effective approach is to first eliminate your incoming email perhaps by developing detailed FAQs on your products or discouraging clients from contacting you unless truly necessary. The next step is to have a simple system for inboxing and automation as much as possible. This should ideally cut your emails to 20 or less per day.

Partial solution: Pay attention and become aware. Ask questions on how repetitive tasks can be simplified and automated. Look for ways to improve the given process.

The third factor behind busyness is a defence or resistance to face the challenge that matters and, oftentimes awaits us anyway.

By keeping ourselves too busy we leave no time for thinking, questions and introspection. Overwork is an excuse to postpone an important decision taking because we may not like the consequences. By buying busy we avoid a challenge ahead in a false hope that this challenge will vanish or be solved somehow. Busyness often masks for lack of trust.

Partial solution: Create trust. Gather your courage and face the truth. There is no growth if you try to escape the challenge in your face.

***

The partial solutions above address some important points, but they do not expand beyond busyness. The growth beyond busyness relies on deliberate practice.

Deliberate practice

We need the long hours for developing expertise, estimated by some as much as 10 000 hours (see Gladwell’s book Outliers). It is however not the hours alone that reach the conclusion. Expertise requires much more than hours. With the hours alone we are destined to mediocre at best.

What we need are the hours dedicated to pushing through and outside our comfort zone, i.e. handling challenges and tasks we don’t know yet or are not comfortable with. It becomes a deliberate practice. And there are only few who would follow this path.

Why?

Because this path requires discipline to endure pain of uncomfortable tasks or uneasy experiences beyond what is known. This is necessary to train the mental and physical muscles as well as myelin towards a development of new skills and deeper foundations.

While developing a skill you need to deliberately choose challenges of an increasing difficulty within the field or in the neighboring fields. What is however interesting is that such laser focus and uncomfortable action is needed for relatively short times, say hours a day instead of the whole days. Such days become highly disciplined in which intensive yet uncomfortable practices are structured at specific times.

Committing to such a training is a path of personal growth. See this article for more details. 

Example. Let’s say you need to develop your presentation skills because you will be giving talks on conferences. You start by preparing your slides and then training your talk. In the beginning, people often write it down and memorize sentence by sentence, or train by repeating the whole talk endlessly to make it sound smooth. While this is a good strategy for newbies, when you need to handle your fear of public speaking, it is an ineffective strategy when you have already spoken a few times. 

You need to practise, but rehearsing a complete talk multiple times is counterproductive. The challenge is to focus on the difficult pieces only and leave some space for the story to emerge.

The next step is to consequently increase the difficulty from an event to an event. This may be training your voice in smooth talking, only a light preparation beforehand and improvization at the spot, introducing an interesting side story, making a joke that fits, becoming interactive with the audience, and so on.

Strengthening your myelin

In the book the Talent code, Coyle develops further the ideas presented by Gladwell. The book gives arguments why talents are merely grown through a hard work and practice. Coyle points out to the role and workings of myelin.

If we see a human movement or thought as an electrical impulse travelling through a circuit of neurons, then myelin is the insulation which wraps around these fibres and increases their signal strength. Coyle says “The more we fire a particular circuit, the more myelin optimizes that circuit, and the stronger, faster, and more fluent our movements and thoughts become”.

In short, the book postulates three necessary ingredients behind any talent or expertise. First, you start with a burning desire to become great at something. Secondly, you follow great mentoring or find good teachers. Finally, you need a”deep practice”, a deep focus of doing the thing you are working on and constantly improving it. The goal of the practice is to strengthen the myelin strand coatings in the brain in order to strengthen brain connections made during practice.

The conclusion of the book is that passion and persistence are the key ingredients of talent and success. Why? “Because wrapping myelin around a big circuit requires immense energy and time. If you don’t love it, you’ll never work hard enough to be great.”

Pareto principle and Parkinson’s law

Now we know that practice is necessary for success. Such a deliberate practice relies on tools, techniques and systems. In my opinion, it has to incorporate two rules, one by Pareto and the other by Parkinson.

Pareto rule (80/20): 80% of the results are achieved through the 20% of effort.

Of course the proportion is approximate, but it gives you an idea. This rule reminds us that the majority of time is spent on the details while the essential things (80%) can be achieved with minor focus. This principle challenges us to produce results instead of producing them perfectly.

Example. You can easily observe this in real life. E.g. you can easily create the whole article in the 20% of the total time , the remaining 80% is spent on getting all the details right, rewriting, editing, grammar checks and formatting. These are often endless repetitions.

Parkinson’s law: “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”
If you have only one task to be done in a day, say, writing and posting a letter, it can easily take the whole day. As a result if you reduce the time given for the completion of the practice, you will force yourself to use the time well.

Applying the two rules. The challenge is to give ourselves limits and deadlines and stick to them so that we are forced to cut unessential, eliminate distractions and arrive at innovative solutions to meet the time constraints. 

Finally

What’s the point of this article? 

Except for the obvious side effects, overwork and/or busyness kill creativity. Creativity unfolds in undisturbed time and space, when mind becomes explorative and playful.

Introduce a structured approach to your busyness which incorporates silence and empty space. Limit the time for the tasks and you will become more resourceful. You will be able to focus on the essential things and master them to perfection.

You need this step. For breath. For being. For your own presence and joy.

***

 The coaching questions about busyness

If you want a change, start by becoming aware. Explore the questions below and learn more about yourself. 

  • What do you avoid facing by keeping yourself permanently busy? What is the challenge beneath that you need to face?

Perhaps you need to communicate to your family or supervisors that your plate is too full.
Perhaps you need to organize a helping hand or a system to simplify the tasks.
Perhaps you are not happy at your job and need to  choose a new direction of your growth.
Perhaps your marriage is at risk and you need to learn new ways of communication.

Change is inevitable and the only way to go through a change is to manage change.

  • What do you loose when you are so busy?

It is important to realize what your price is. Do you have time for rest, thinking, exercise, reading books and learning new things?

  • What would you be doing if you were not that busy?

Perhaps the key point is here. Work is an important aspect of our lives. It nourishes when we can express ourselves and become creators, be it on the level of product development, programming, team management or organization structures. However, sometimes works takes everything there is in life. And then you begin to dread your free hours as you simply don’t know what to do.

Maybe it is the time to go out, find new hobbies, start volunteering or seeing others.

  • How can you become less busy and more successful?

The combined Pareto rule and Parkinson’s law are helpful here.

***

Alternatively, you can ask the questions below exploring your towards and away motivation as well as hidden aspects.

  1. What would happen if I continued to stay permanently busy?
  2. What wouldn’t happen if I continued to stay permanently busy?
  3. What would happen if I stopped being busy?
  4. What wouldn’t happen if I stopped being busy?

***

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

 

 

 

There is a concept of the middle way as a path of development. The followers of this path likely apply moderation to everything. They tend to avoid extremes. While this seems a reasonable way of living, there is a much more advanced approach.

Two extremes and the center

As we know everything has its opposite. As a result, we have two extremes and the center, the middle point in between. And if we carefully observe the workings of the universe we will notice that the natural rhythm is to continuously swing from one opposite to the other and back. This is the principle of rhythm. We go from a day to a night, from joy to sadness, from summer to winter, from a high-tide to a low-tide or from work to rest. There is this basic rhythm, the basic swing between the polarities.

The same understanding applies to practicing the middle way.

Counter-intuitively, the true middle way is not narrow. Oh, no no no.

The middle path is not about boring miniature movements around the middle point. On the contrary, it is a challenging path when you walk between the extremes. Traveling between the polarities does not mean, however, all polarities that exist, but only the opposites that define the space of your maturing and personal growth. And you choose to walk this path with consciousness. You keep visiting the opposites and swing consciously between them.

The paradox of the center

There is an interesting paradox of the middle way.

Our goal is to be in the middle. The middle is the center. What is the center?

Center is Integrity. Center is Peace. Center is Christ.

Being in the center is the ultimate goal. However, center is not achieved by standing still there, but by balancing between the opposites.

Center is Balance. Think about it this way. When a person walks on a tightrope, he is constantly moving his body, swaying from side to side to move forward and prevent the fall. And although his goal is to stay on the rope, i.e. keep the center, most of the time he is outside the center, being either at one side or the other. He is keeping the course of movement not by standing still but by actively balancing between the opposite sides and between up and down.

So, the balancing between the opposites is the core of the middle way. The center is continuously being reached through an active balancing.

So, the key understanding here is as follows.

  1. The middle way is a path between opposites. It is a spacious path. There is a lot of room for experience and even more for investigation. There is freedom to manoeuvre, to make mistakes and to learn.
  2. Personal experience or deep understanding of the extremes is essential for finding the true center for yourself.
    • When you loose health, you understand how valuable it is.
    • When you become poor, you begin to appreciate what wealth is.
    • When you are live in noisy environment, you begin to value solitude and silence.
    • When you are about to loose your life, you begin to live with an contagious passion.

Even when you experience the darkest sides of yourself, making deliberate errors, committing crimes or hating others, it may serve you as a powerful experience for a personal transformation towards kindness, gratitude and love.

The big challenge

There is however a big challenge when you want to follow the middle way.

Think for a moment about a pendulum swinging from side to side.  When there are no external forces, the pendulum will naturally stop at its center.

Let the pendulum be now our metaphor for life. Our ultimate goal is to know the center and to be at the center.  However, there are always external circumstances that act on us, be it consequences of our decisions (that we can hardly foresee) or events outside our control. As a result, the pendulum never stops. It is always in motion.

What is the swing?

The external forces and circumstances may override the natural rhythm of the pendulum. So, they will tend to keep you at one of the opposites, usually the less favorable one such as the permanent state of grumbling and complaining. As a result, the center you find is not the center at all. You simply have too little experience and understanding to be able to define the center well as the pendulum has an abnormal rhythm, highly biased towards one of the polarities.

E.g. if you have been unhappy and complaining for years, you may only have a vague idea about happiness. As you lack the direct experience and cannot even imagine what a true happiness is the way you define happiness is colored by the negative interpretations of your experiences. As a result, your perceived center is far from the middle point.

The how-to of the middle way

The advanced way to follow the middle path is to transcend the duality, the opposites. What does it mean? In practice

  1. You take the time to understand the principle of rhythm and its working in your life. It means that you are knowledgeable about the rhythm and cycles of changes. When you know a change is to happen, you can prepare for it in advance in order to take advantage.
  2. You know where the center is because you have chosen to experience the opposites and to understand them. You simply take the time to go through the extremes personally, learn about them from other people, or extrapolate from your own life experience.
  3. You always keep your intent to return to the center. Or, in other words, you hold the consciousness of the center. Even if the external circumstances or life challenges want to keep you stuck at one of the polarities, it is you and your consciousness that will encourage you to swing towards the other side.
  4. The middle way is achieved by your active and conscious balancing between the opposites. So, it means that you first go to one extreme and spend the necessary time there, then you follow to the other extreme. And repeat.

    For example, the advanced balancing of your work day is to work hard and with deep focus followed by a full rest. This can be implemented in any way that is convenient for you. E.g. you can choose to work hard for 50min followed by a 10-min rest and repeat it all, say 8 times a day. Or you can choose to work hard for 3h followed by a 25-min rest and repeat it 3-4 times a day. Or you can work very hard for a full day followed by a free morning the following day. Any of such approaches is efficient as long as it suits you.

Transcendence is by choice. You are in charge. Accept it.

And your middle way will become a fantastic experience.

***

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

 three

Here, I will share my conceptual outlook at the numbers One, Two and Three.

To understand that well you will need the foundation built in the two previous posts, one on Polarity and the other one on the Principle of Rhythm. Please read them first.

Imagine you are the only Being that exists.
There is you and nothing else.
It is a likely boring existence.

Say, you are a cell in the World which is the cell itself.

You are the White on the White canvas, including the canvas as well.

You are both a Thought and a Thinker of that Thought.

Anywhere you reach, through the medium of yourself, of course, there is only you. In fact, you are a Presence permeating yourself.

You are.

You cannot discriminate because there is only one Sameness expressed in what there is. There is no Difference yet.

The concept of One is Totality

You can also perceive One as Unity, or Sameness.

Metaphorically, you can understand One as God. You may also consider One as the Whole universe, or total Power.

Or, you perhaps remember your experience of One when you were a fetus developing in your mother’s womb for whom everything was a complete Whole. Even though you might have explored the boundaries of Self, there was no reference for you to understand what they were, simply because you had no experience of the outside. For you the boundaries was also the Self.

Totality may be both, the Conscious Presence such as Active Intent or the Unconscious Presence such as a Potential or Power to be exercised. In both cases, Totality is the Essence from which everything originates.

If Totality is unconscious it expands by practising the basic awareness until it develops the intent to think.  Thanks to this intent it will develop further on until it will become conscious. At this point, Totality will possibly become bored by being so same, homogeneous and All that is.

Totality will want to make a further progress by discriminating a part of itself. It may distinguish an aspect of Self from the rest, or it may distinguishes an aspect, such as Love, Sound or Matter.  By doing so, everything but this aspect will become distinguishable as well.

Polarity is born.

The concept of Two is Polarity

You can also perceive Two as Duality or Difference.

The act of bringing one aspect forward is the act of setting everything else in the background. It is the same as naming a feature or characteristic. It allows us to recognize it and distinguish from the other things.

Metaphorically, you can understand Two as God who establishes a companion for His higher feelings when he discriminates into the Loving Father and the beloved Son. Or you may consider Two as the Universe which becomes both Matter and Spirit. Or, perhaps you experience Two as being a child born to the World.

As such, Two is experienced when an opening is created or a difference is to be emphasized. It does not provide an interesting diversity as such. Although the task of Two is to notice the differences, their integration is difficult as it requires an extra step.

It is the movement between the polarities that gives the basic structure to our existence. You can think of it as of the swing between the opposites or,  you can perceive it as a threshold experience when you move from one polarity to another. Duality through action gives birth to Three.

The concept of Three is Active Diversity

You can also say Creativity.

It is both the action and the expression of a state between the polarities.

Metaphorically, you may consider Three as God who becomes Trinity. Holy Spirit is now introduced as the Active Person expressing Love between the Father and the Son. You may also consider Three as an Intent and/or Active Consciousness to move between levels from the Material to Spiritual Worlds. Or, you experience Three as a child interacting and playing in the outside world.

Three is an interesting phenomenon. Two expresses duality, polarity or difference. It is often passive. Three comes into existence through the act of interaction between the Two.

Three is something that is being created when the Two opposites become involved and act.

Three describes Stability

Three is a powerful concept. Three reflects not only diversity, but also stability and support.

A triangle is created by three sides and is the most basic geometric figure.
A three-legged chair is going to work well, while a stable two legged chair is impossible.
Three dimensions support the existence of life and complex systems.

The meeting point

Three is an expression of diversity. Three is an expression of novelty and creativity. Three is a direction.

Birth, life and death.
Past, present and future.
Beginning, middle and end.
Positive, neutral and negative.

Three allows us to introduce a meeting point, or a place in between. It can be the moment of Now being experienced between past and future. It can be the flow between beginning and end. Or it can be intuition arising as a creative act between emotions and rational thought.

Three simply allows us to experience the middle or in-between.

Three is completeness

Once you start paying attention, you will find triads or triplets cropping up everywhere – in language, in myths, in fairy tales, in Scripture, in culture and in society.

Three people are seen as suitable to make decisions, because they will have enough diversity to cover different points of views and when necessary to apply the majority vote. Three people are enough to form boards, commissions or crowds. Even statistics likes to see “three” as a container for “many”.

Not surprisingly, many laws, rules or ideas come in triads. Just to mention three laws of thermodynamics, the motto of France: liberty, equality, fraternity or the motto of Poland: God, honor and fatherland, or three virtues: faith, hope and love.

Many things in writing or storytelling are structured in threes. There are sayings or curses that have to be repeated 3 times before they become active. There are three trials to achieve a certain goal. There are three wishes to be granted. There also also three days or nights for an event or transformation to take place.

Examples of triads in stories include Three Wise Monkeys, Three Little Pigs, Three Musketeers, or Three Bears. In fairy tales there are usually three brothers, sons of a peasant or three daughters of a king. Two are often either stupid (boys) or ugly (girls), while one is smart / beautiful. And it is the third one that makes a difference: he will endure many tests to have finally become a new king or she will go through trials to be finally married by a Lovely Prince.

Summary

Three can be perceived in multiple ways. It can be a threshold experience between the Two polarities, a meeting point, or a new creation by the interaction of Two. Such a creation bears characteristics different than its ingredients, similarly as water is something completely novel in comparison to both oxygen and hydrogen.

Three offers a high-level synthesis, not by summing the Two components but by creatively designing something new. Three doesn’t negate polarity. Rather it accepts duality and represents a new element arising from the action between the opposites. And in this way, Three enables us to transcend duality.

Three is an experience of consciousness.

***

Photo credit CLeopold73 available under Creative Commons on Flickr.

***

Other posts on consciousness:

pendulum_rhythm

Up and Down.
Left and Right.
Forward and Backward.

Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.
An everlasting swing between the two opposite patterns.

Rhythm.
The basic principle that governs our lives.
Yes. Rhythm.

Not only is the existence of two opposites important, but also the act of moving between them. We can experience a flow between Day and Night, Inbreath and Outbreath, Giving and Receiving, or Rise and Fall.

Have you ever wondered why you need some rest after a hard work?
Exactly. This is the principle of rhythm.

The principle of rhythm

You cannot go against it even if you try hard. Pushing too much towards one polarity will ultimately force you to go back to the other one, whether you want it or not.This time, however, perhaps under less favorable circumstances than you would like to experience.

For instance, you can work hard for months, or even years, juggling multiple projects and responsibilities, while skilfully balancing on the edge of depletion. But when you don’t regularly incorporate the necessary rest, it will be forced upon you. You will become ill.

Have you ever wondered why politicians, sportsmen, CEOs of the companies, singers or actors rise high up to only collapse soon after?

Indeed, for any great success, there is a great failure. If there is a rise, there is a fall. And oftentimes the rise you observe at the life of others follows the falls you haven’t. Simply because they were not brought to your attention.

The principle of rhythm governs the working of our universe. You cannot simply avoid that. And neglecting this principle or pretending it does not exist, is not going to help either.  The swing is always at work.

The measure of the swing to the left is the measure of the swing to the right

Let us consider an imaginary pendulum. Since symmetry is a natural phenomenon, the pendulum swings between the two opposites in the same degree. So, the swing of a pendulum in one direction determines the swing in the opposite one. And this is metaphorically reflected on all levels of your life, including your mental states.

The higher your ambition, the bigger your challenges and failures.
The greater fear you have, the greater courage you can summon.
The more you give, the more you will receive.
The greater your experience of joy, the greater your capability of feeling sadness.
The more understanding you have, the better realization of how little it is.

And so on.

Cycles

All the phenomena we observe and participate in are governed by cycles. We function in an amazingly orchestrated mechanisms of cycles. These include cycles nested over cycles, even at a deep level. Proper timing becomes essential for making all these cycles work.

For example, we have a cycle of birth, growth, adulthood, maturity, late maturity and death. And within this cycle we may consider a cycle of 7-year development stages, but other cycles are possible as well. Then we have yearly cycles of changing seasons as well as weekly and daily cycles. In addition, there are cycles of our personal and spiritual development, work-related development or about the roles we take into the society, not even mentioning similar cycles for our family members or friends.

All these moderate and high-level cycles rely on the basic rhythm. This is the everlasting swing of ups and downs, lefts and rights, or forwards and backwards. The potent swing between polarities. (Or in an analogy that suggests itself, it is the binary number and the freedom of choice between 0 and 1 that enables us to build more and more complex structures and complicated computer programs.)

Going with the rhythm

The existence of such a rhythm suggests that the best strategy is to become conscious of it and use it intelligently in your life. The key understanding here is the act of balancing between the two sides. No matter which direction you choose and how far you go, you know that you will need to turn back and swing towards the opposite.

Going with the rhythm is the phrase here. Think of the rhythm as of a strong current in the river (of life). The most effortless way to swim in this river is to be either pushed or carried by the current instead of fighting it. This leads you towards the practice of wise men – taking an optimized action with respect to the journey – by paying attention and carefully observing the rhythm.

So instead of being led by circumstances that will accommodate the pull in the opposite direction for you, you act consciously. You are prepared.

This means that in any direction you are currently going, you have already planned and prepared for the movement in the opposite one.

You basically optimize the tasks which coincide well with the benefits of the given polarity, but you still view them from a perspective of the complete system of polarities. By paying attention you will notice the moment in which the pendulum approaches the threshold so that you may begin adopting your actions and strategies accordingly.

For instance, you maximize your work schedules and collect successes when you have a strong wind behind your back, while  you restore, energize and re-structure when the decline comes. For sure lean years will follow the fat ones.

You don’t push for success in the Down-movement or party extensively during the lean years, but you collect your learning points, reflect upon them and draw conclusions. Then you plan your strategies for the Up-movement or plant seeds for the fat years to come.

Understand first

People who fall drastically simply don’t understand this principle. They are the ignorant ones who push far beyond the limits as if they could have risen forever. Or they are the ignorant ones who sit in the depression pit while contemplating the fall as if the circumstances could have gone adversary forever. Nothing further from the truth.

When the fall is on a horizon or lean years ahead, neither the drastic experience of the fall nor famine are necessary. You can perfectly accommodate for the fall and diminish its effects to minimum simply by being prepared (beforehand) and by taking care of what is needed to be done in such times.

Swing, swing, swing

Let the swing become a conscious act of balancing in your life.

Work when you feel passionate and energetic. Rest when you are tired.
Collect your successes when on rise. Restore and energize when the decline comes.
Make your key decisions when you feel positive and joyful. Avoid them when depressed or sad.
Give willingly and receive with gratitude.
Buy stuff and get rid of stuff.
Teach what you learn. Learn what you are going to teach.

Follow the rhythm.
Prepare. Pay attention. Optimize your acts.
You will master your life by mastering the swing from one opposite to the other.

***

Photo by Misko13, available under the Creative Commons license on Flickr.

 

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