Choosing to Establish Equilibrium
Establish Equilibrium is the fourth principle of The Mountain Pathway, and this is post number one in the Establish Equilibrium series.
What do we mean by Establish Equilibrium?
The word equilibrium is almost interchangeable with the word balance. In fact, the word balance is used heavily to define equilibrium and vice versa:
- A state of rest or balance due to the equal action of opposing forces.
- Equal balance between any powers, influences, etc.; equality of effect.
- A state of equilibrium or equipoise; equal distribution of weight, amount, etc.
- Mental steadiness or emotional stability; habit of calm behaviour, judgment, etc.
They are however subtly different. Holistic balance is our aim, and it is achieved through the maintenance of many smaller equilibria. Thus, we cannot achieve overall balance without understanding how to maintain the equilibria that exist within and around us.
We have looked at the five elements which we must cultivate to increase our vitality, of the five elements, specifically four must me cultivated with this principle of equilibrium in mind:
- Psychological health
- Physical health
- Social connections
- Our chosen environment
A Spiritual Barometer
Spirituality is omitted because the equilibria principle in this context is much more binary. The more time you time practicing mindfulness and developing your spiritual awareness, the deeper your connection to your own vitality will be, and the more you be able to detect the benefits of this principle. You could think of spirituality being like the barometer for the other areas.
Within and between each of the four main elements, equilibria exist. In the principle of be the change, we looked at how our internal world creates the foundations for our projection in to the world around us. That principle still rings true here as the first place we need to look to cultivate equilibria is within our psyche and mind. The insights I will share as part of the introspection tool kit are designed to help you do this.
When water is calm and still it means that it is balanced, this is what success looks like for you. When the lake of vitality in your mind is tranquil and still, it will then be able to reflect a sincere projection of you in to the world.
Once we understand the equilibria within one element, we can that cast our eyes in to the other elements and work towards the true goal of developing holistic balance throughout our body, mind and spirit.
The awareness and maintenance of these equilibria is a skill which will improve with time and will pose us challenges along the way. Here are some examples of the challenges we may face in each area:
A healthy human psyche is a balanced one. Think of the mind like a glass of water; as you carry the glass around, the water will slosh about, when you set it down on a table, the water will slowly begin to settle and eventually become still. When the water is still, it has established equilibrium with the glass and the external forces around it. Only when the water is still, can you peer in to the glass and see your reflection.
Because the human mind is the neurological centre of our body, it is the maintenance of these equilibria which unlocks our potential in the other areas of our lives. When we develop an awareness of ourselves and who we really are, this enables us to trust ourselves, there is a predictability about our actions and are ability to achieve our aims.
Trust is the antidote to fear, because there is an equilibrium between the two emotions.
When we have trust for ourselves, this allows us to then trust in other people too. This makes the biggest hurdle that prevents action leading to change much easier to overcome. Fear is absorbed by trust and the vitality locked in the fear is recycled in to energy to drive actions.
Have you heard the expression: curiosity killed the cat?
Curiosity is the first stage on the journey to being the change. There is an important equilibrium within the process of being curious though; once we start to understand ourselves better, we will understand our emotional tolerances and our capacity to learn and comprehend.
The more questions we ask of ourselves, the more answers we need to find. Some questions are tougher to answer than others, and it can easily become overwhelming if we try to tackle more than we can process; this can lead to floods of emotions such as fear and anxiety.
Think of it this way, when we first learned to ride a bike, we would not have done well if we decided to compete in a professional cycling race.
So just like we would select sporting competition at a level appropriate to our training, we also need to balance our psychological curiosity with realism and prioritisation.
This is done by developing the ability to be honest with ourselves about how we are feeling in relation to the tasks at hand.
It is important to be clear if there are any feelings of stress or anxiety building and adjust our goals and strategies accordingly. Learning how to balance challenging ourselves just enough to grow.
When it comes to physical health, it is one of the most obvious areas that we need to maintain equilibria. Everyone has heard the expression about having a “balanced diet”; a diet containing the right balance of all essential macro nutrients, minerals and vitamins.
As well has balancing our diet from a nutritional content perspective, we also need to have an equilibrium between the amount of physical exercise we do and the total amount of calories we consume. Too many calories and we get fat, too little and we don’t have enough energy to perform effectively.
It is not always that straight forwards though; for people looking to gain muscle, they need a calorific surplus and a diet balance favouring protein. Combined with the right sort of training, the excess calories will be used to build and repair muscle rather than to create fat. The equilibria within our diet and exercise are perfect examples of how our approach can be tailored to the create the right balance needed for the goals we want to achieve.
Another example of a fitness goal is the target of developing explosive power. Most people’s initial thoughts about this are that the training will involve lifting lots of heavy weights so that our muscles grow and become stronger. Most people will be right because that is exactly what we need to do, but it is not the only thing we need to do.
When we train our bodies to develop bigger and stronger muscles, this can lead to a shortening of the muscle fibres and an increase in the amount of tension (tightness) that we carry in our muscles even when we are “relaxed”. This stiffening of the muscles will actually reduce our maximal power output.
Strength is our ability to apply force, power is our ability to apply our force quickly. Speed of application is influenced by our flexibility and range of motion. We want strong muscles that are supple and flexible so that they can contract quickly and apply all of the strength we have developed. That is why if we want to increase our power, we must balance our strength training with stretching and flexibility training.
The human body is extremely adaptable and dynamic. The more you train it to do for you, the more it needs to do; especially when it comes to energy.
If we do not challenge ourselves sufficiently, energy accumulates in our bodies and minds. When this happens, we have become energetically constipated. Once our flow of energy is backed up and it will start to play havoc with our psyche and physical health. This is how we get ill and our vitality begins to decrease.
The solution is to balance your energetic output with your input. The more you act as a conduit for the vitality of the universe, the more vitality you will have flowing through you; the more flows through you, the more you need to use; the more you use, the more the rate of flow will increase.
Vitality is like a muscle, use it or lose it.
Social connections are most effective when there are balance positive outcomes for both parties. In biology, this would be regarded as a mutualistic symbiotic relationship or, mutualism.
Sticking with biology; commensalism occurs when one organism benefits but the other does not. In humans (assuming both parties are aware of the relationship), there is no such thing as a selfless act; that is all thanks to our conscious mind and the feeling of fulfilment we get from performing a good deed.
As a result, in humans, we call this kind of relationship altruistic. To be clear though, if you approach altruism with the intent of receiving a benefit back, it is can be classed as selfishness; there is no shame in that though, just be honest with yourself about it. Win-win is optimal.
If, however, you are the only one receiving benefit, and the other party is suffering; your relationship would be classed as a parasitic.
Balancing benefit value in relationship is a tricky thing as the perceived value of the benefit by each party will be different. What allows people to effectively address this is having a clear balance of power and respect.
When respect and power (dominance) within a relationship are at equilibrium, this opens up the ability to have meaningful conversations about anything that is needed to strengthen the relationship and increase the benefit for both parties. Equilibrium in this area sits at the core of a meaningful relationship.
It is only when the energy of a relationship is in equilibrium, that the resonance will be echoed and amplified by all parties.
Increasing the vitality of the whole system.
A number of people spend the vast majority of their lives working indoors. If we work in an office, we can choose to brighten up our working environment with some plants and pictures of nature, but for people that work in for example a factory, this is simply not an option.
Finding balance between the time we spend outside and around nature with the time we spend locked up inside is essential for us to feel connected with the world; to feel grounded.
Feeling connected and grounded happens when you are harmonious with the world around you. Taking time to slow down, and appreciate natural surroundings, can help to steady the seas of our mind.
Water only moves when it is not in equilibrium.
The environment we select helps us cultivate the mindset that we want to achieve. Being aware of how environmental information can affect our mood and is important; this includes information such as sounds, light and colours. Every parent knows it is best not to let your child watch TV before bed if you want them to get a good night’s sleep.
Strive for an environment that resonates with your desired mindset.
In the next Thursday post, we will explore the principle of Establish Equilibrium further and take a look at how you can use this principle to your advantage… so, until then…
Enjoy, for now.