Finding balance

More than 50 percent, if not more, of the stars are born in a binary system. It is quite common for stars to be born in clusters with one or more companions. If there is one thing that nature is quite clear about, balance is a necessity.

If we are looking for something, we are looking for balance. When we can’t find it, we become unstable. We may not know it consciously, but we instinctively seek it. The only reason why we are not feeling equanimity is because we haven’t found the balance for whatever shook us from equanimity.

Whatever shakes us from equanimity is not always in our control. We are often caught off guard. While it is possible to learn from one experience and minimize the chances of it happening again, there are nearly infinite ways in which we can be caught off guard, and hence it is silly to think that we will be unshakeable.

The key is to understand the need for balance. When we are not aware of it, we might unknowingly be making things worse. Just notice yourself in moments when you feel unsettled.  Even if it is something psychological, which is more often the case for us. Your body and mind are trying to find balance. Just recognizing this can be a calming first step.

Now think of the binary companions to the activities you do in your day. Sitting and eating a delicious meal can pair with a nice little walk outdoors. A nice little walk outdoors can pair with writing/reflecting/blogging. Writing can pair with some yoga poses and movements. Those yoga poses and movements can pair with meditation or breathing exercises. Meditation or breathing exercises can pair with some social time. Some social time can pair with doing something in a group. Doing something in a group can pair with relaxing together and eating a meal. Of course this sounds too easy and probably not realistic. We have to earn a living. We have to earn food. We have to find people to be with. So these worries can pair with the corresponding actions. Search for a job, or search for food, or search for people to be with. The search can pair with success or disappointment. Disappointment can pair with some exercise or meditation or finding support with a loved one. And these can pair with a contemplative walk. You get the gist. Life goes on.

Giving and receiving

We expect other human beings and other living species to be a source of some value to us every time we interact with them. This is the default way we have existed. This is how our minds usually work. Even when we are not aware of it.

Now think of a time when your mind was not working like this. Lets say you just recovered from an illness. Just came back from tough, painful moments to appreciate what is. You feel different, tearful happiness looking at people and animals. It is as if it is all a gift.

Now think of being at the other end of this person. Some times you come across such people, and you feel deep appreciation and openness towards them, almost sub-consciously. You feel awe. This person by-passed most other beliefs you had about the kind of person you want to interact with. You come totally in the moment. This is the interaction you were always looking for. In fact, you open up, the typical story of giving and receiving disappears for a moment.

Now consider for a moment the story of giving and receiving. You value receiving. Our minds work in interesting ways. One minor story title that you have held on to can write an entire story of behaviors and experiences. When you find yourself stuck in this story, and realize it is a confusing mess that does no good to anyone in the long run, you are already almost more than half awake. Soon like a balloon leaves the hand, the story leaves you. It happens. But awareness is a key step. Without it, you would be so deeply ingrained inside the story that it seems to be your universe.

So imagine that the story of giving and receiving lifts off your hand. Suddenly the world opens up. When you receive you will be grateful, and when you give you will feel like you are sharing. It becomes a world of sharing, not giving and receiving.

Lessons learned from Overtraining

I struggled with sleep recently. It was a slow learning process. I had to first let go of the desire to find out why and get comfortable with reality. That takes a bit of time, in this case a week or even more.

Now that sleep has been better, I have more clarity. I noticed I was exercising a lot. When I wouldn’t sleep well, I would take that as a reason to exercise in the morning, thinking early morning exercise would help me feel tired and sleep. I was missing the rest and recovery part. After exercise, I would relax through yoga and moments of meditation, but then I would continue stimulation overload rest of the day. Work. Unreal social expectations. Even getting lunch was a task. This was nearly an every other day routine.

I happened to read about overtraining, not for the first time, but this time my reality made me listen to it. I decided to skip exercise, and dial down goals of all kinds for a week, and try to just be and relax. In just a couple of days, I felt sleep was easier. I also realized I did not understand meditation at an intuitive level until now. I had heard people say it is non-doing, just being. But I always thought of it as a task. Again like overtraining, this realization came from within for the first time. I simplified my meditation technique. Sit down comfortably on a chair, and just gently notice breath going in and out of the tip of the nose. I had learned this from the description of Vipassana meditation. There is something about this that made me switch to being rather than doing. Tip of the nose and noticing was calming. I could do this for hours. Several days into the week, I felt rejuvenated.

This is still early days. But I am beginning to appreciate non-doing, relaxing, and letting go. Doesn’t mean I will not exercise again. May be when I have more clarity around how to exercise with proper recovery. Another interesting observation in this week was this happiness I felt in just being with people, as if this is all life is about.