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Shambhala Life Skills: Self-Balancing

Originally the word "health" meant "whole" or "undivided." However, today the word "health" has come to mean something quite different. Today, it is more likely to mean free from illness or able to pursue your daily activities.

Shambhala Black Belt Life-Skills bring us back to the original meaning of the word "health" by recognizing the interconnectedness of the mind, the body and the spirit. Shambhala Black Belt Life-Skills unify and strengthen the bond between the mind and the body, resulting in a powerful spirit that becomes your guiding Life-force.

Shambhala Black Belt Life-Skill Number Five Self-Balancing

The Shambhala Life-Skill of SELF-BALANCING is perhaps best described as the art of consciously maintaining peace. You are the peacekeeper of your inner world. You are also in charge of “Homeland” security … maintaining peace between you and the outer world. Simply stated, this Life-Skill is reflected in the proverb, "When you are right with yourself, you feel right with the world."

Paradoxical Balancing

To practice SELF-BALANCING you must understand paradox. Paradox is like yin-yang. Paradox is the process of apparent opposites or clashing ideas or opposing emotions coming together to create a dynamic tension … and a much bigger picture than what could be created by bringing both of these apparent opposites close together but not letting them touch. In a broader way of thinking, these apparent opposites are not actually opposites, one positive and to be esteemed, the other negative and to be avoided. Instead, they are both parts of an important whole. When viewed in this light, love and hate are necessary to experience the full breadth of emotional intensity. Each has relevance only in terms of the other. They each give meaning to the other.

Another example of opposing ideas is life and death. Life never has so much relevance, so much importance, as it does in light of death. And death is never so final, so complete, as it is in the presence of its contrasting apparent opposite – life. Much of the time it is easier to choose one or the other element of the paradox than it is to be aware of both and live in the middle. Every culture helps its members to choose one or the other side of the paradox by placing positive and/or negative values on them. So then, rather than living in the middle of what is closer to reality, rather than reckoning with the pull of both, you are encouraged to choose black or white, right or wrong, love or hate, yin or yang. You are discouraged from holding the tension of both and live in the middle … in Balance.

To practice the art of SELF-BALANCING you need to seek out paradoxes and develop a tolerance for their opposing pulls. The tension created by these opposing pulls gives Life its vibrancy. Because Shambhala Black Belts recognize and know how to live in the middle of paradox, they are also enlivened by the interplay of these opposing pulls.

Holding the Paradoxical Tension

SELF-BALANCING is the art of keeping all systems, internal and external, in balance, not letting any one aspect become continually dominant. You will have difficulty with this because of 1) your tendency toward linear thinking, 2) your pride in seeing yourself as a good problem-solver, and 3) your tendency for defining nearly everything as a problem needing to be solved. Paradoxes are not problems needing to be solved, but dilemmas that need to be lived within.

Living within a dilemma is balancing; it is a holding of the paradoxical tension. Shambhala Black Belts learn how to live in the middle of paradox. They know it is often easier to focus on only one side of the paradox because in doing so at least one set of issues, cues and needs becomes illuminated. But, at the same time, Shambhala Black Belts know that focusing on only one side eliminates one-half of the possibilities and opportunities.

Shambhala Black Belts know freedom has little meaning without the possibility of its loss; hate puts love in perspective on the continuum of emotional intensity; and contentment is cherished only because of a familiarity with angst. And yet you will tend to want to see yourself as one or the other.

Democrat or Republican
Catholic or Protestant
Rich or Poor
Smart or Stupid
Blind or Sighted
Male or Female

How can you be both at once? Who would want to be? Especially when you live in a world of blacks and whites, goods and bads, rights and wrongs. Is it really a world of either/or? Perhaps you have just been taught to think so. Are there really rights and wrongs? Surely killing is wrong, unless it is to protect a principle such as democracy which you know is right. Even if you have to kill to prove it?

Democracy is a meaningless word, a word without value, if the concept of totalitarianism does not exist. They represent different points on the same spectrum. To see only one part of the spectrum is to deny the remainder of reality. In doing so, you may make decisions easier for yourself in the short run, but a one-sided perspective is a lie; it's only part of the story. In the long run, denying the fuller picture of reality sets you up for becoming a victim of it.

The elements of mind and body are only one of many paradoxes which Shambhala Black Belts must balance. Some of the other elements which require SELF-BALANCING are:

Left and Right Brain Mental Processes (linear and non-linear thinking)
Freedom and Responsibility
Autonomy and Merging
Cultural Priorities and Personal Priorities
Individuality and Community
Invulnerability and Vulnerability
Emotionality and Intellectuality
Activity and Passivity
Youth and Maturity

For example, in the case of the paradox of youth and maturity, Shambhala Black Belts have a quality of agelessness about them because the they do not subscribe to the conventional physical/time sequences. They do not escape the pure physiological interchange with Nature, nor do they have a need to, but Shambhala Black Belts do not submit and respond to the socially prescribed signs of aging and deterioration of health.

Shambhala Black Belts do not put energy into trying to stay and look young. They simply find no reason to be different from what they have always been. They still like to ride merry-go-rounds. They have play clothes they enjoy getting dirty in. They put a lot of things in their mouths to taste them (like seashells) and to enjoy their texture, unlike those who know these things are dirty.

Shambhala Black Belts are likely to say things with a candor that is refreshing, because they do not care to put energy into censoring what they say. They are likely to captivate you and wear you out with their energy, their need to explore and their need for adventure. They interpret the passage of time differently than individuals who do not know how to balance themselves. Shambhala Black Belts experience the passage of time as positive. They see each passing minute as a moment to savor and one that will bring them closer to Life, closer to their Selves, and closer to regaining their original Integrity.

You will need to come to your own individualized sense of balance within yourself and with your outer world. By doing so you will be able to explore the limitless alternatives available to enrich your Life. You will not stop with an alternative that will merely suffice, but you will continue your search for an alternative that will ensure your Integrity. Less of your behavior will come from habit, and more of your behavior will be the result of the Conscious process of SELF-BALANCING. You will find yourself enlivened by an energetic search for harmonizing alternatives, while others find themselves mentally, emotionally and physically drained by living off-balance.

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