The Idea of Balance and Stability
One of the key wierdnesses of the 80s and 90s was what was called “lifting off.” People with too much time on their hands tended to get immersed in all kinds of ‘spiritual’ stuff, movements, etc. Or, they went off to ashrams, retreat centres, or training places, hoping to figure themselves out–
but really, what they wanted was a way to be so special that they could get away with murder.
My favourite example was a woman who had been receiving counselling from a guy who had been a teacher at Findhorn, a real New Age Centre. She was highly in lust with her carpenter. She came for counselling, but her clearly stated intention was for me to “fix her affirmations.” She’d been sending the following “up to the cosmos”:
“I want my husband and children and my carpenter’s wife and children to accept and support my having a sexual relationship (soulmates with benefits, I guess) with the carpenter.”
Therapy didn’t go on for long. I think, basically, it was over when I said, “You can have whatever you are willing to pay for. So, go have an affair, if you choose. However, I suspect the spouses might not necessarily go along.”
She insisted that there had to be a way for her to have her cake and eat it too.
Not very grounded.
Groundedness is all about acceptance
The reason people come to me is simple: they are not OK with some aspect of their lives, and they want my help to change the external thing. Or, there is some aspect of their internal theatre that they hate–an emotion, a way of being, that they disagree with, and want changed.
It’s a hard thing for them to accept that the first step in our work together is that we start from where the client is–by accepting that “the way it is, is the way it is.”
In my book, This Endless Moment, I use the idea of learning to paddle a Kayak as a way to describe this. There really is only one way to paddle, to balance, and to direct a kayak. There is only one way to turn into an eddy, and one way to leave. If you tip the boat the wrong way, it will flip right over, and quickly. So, a wise person gets instruction on the way to paddle a kayak.
Once you’ve learned the basics, you can improvise, and add your own little quirks and stunts, but all of them will fall within the basic “how to paddle” rubric. You will never be able to lean the wrong way entering the current, and not end up upside down. No matter how special you think you are.
Special and a dumb move gets you a mouth full of water.
The rules of balance are always the same. You miss, you fall over. So, the acceptance we teach is acceptance of the “rules of engagement” for living.
Here are a few “acceptances” that are “simply so”
- How you are at your core cannot be changed–your emotions, your default world-view, your baseline mood–all are “you,”
- The people around you are exactly as they appear to be–what they do is who they are.
- The mind-work we teach (and is integral to zazen) is observation. The goal is to accept the mind’s chatter, distractions, and games, and with acceptance, to find the stillness that exists between thoughts.
- No one is coming. There is no saviour or rescuer to ride in and make it all better.
- Groundedness is working from exactly where you are, with precisely the tools you have, now.
- Demanding that others and the world do it your way is futile and a waste of time.
I could go on for hours.
Here’s the key:
Balanced living is about settling in, and finding yourself. As you self-explore, you’ll find resistances–emotions you don’t like, parts of your body you judge or want to ignore, past experiences you dig up and scare yourself over.
If you are ungrounded, you will want to:
- pull away
- resist looking at, or even discussing the issue
- distract yourself with something “fun or chargy,”
- make yourself uncomfortable, and then blame something external for your discomfort
To be grounded:
- move toward the discomfort, and explore it fully
- be open and honest about what is going on, what you fear, and what you want
- stay focussed on the feeling, and do not distract yourself
- stay with the discomfort, while opening yourself, physically, and emotionally, to additional stimulation of the issue, body part, or thought you are setting yourself off over.
Your body will tell you what to work on–places that are tight, uncomfortable, hyper or hypo sensitive–there are signs of “what’s up.” Bodywork will help you to feel your feelings, and bring them into acceptance.
Acceptance is not surrender
Most people spend eons fighting against their natures, and demanding things change–without effort, and ‘just because…’ Thus, most people die stuck and miserable.
Groundedness is landing on the firm foundation of who you are, accepting this as the baseline or starting place, and making other, more productive choices.
Next week, the groundedness of relating.