Sunday, March 27, 2011

Allowing for Polarity

The half way point in my Authentic Relationships course is a discussion about polarities. For the purpose of clear communication, polarities are "pairs of qualities that are opposites and yet relate to one another in such a way that they define each other." Day, night. Good, evil. Flexible, rigid. Introverted, extroverted. Tense, relaxed. I've been considering all the polarities that I contain and working on integrating both poles. Osho had this to say about Integration: "Rather than night opposing day, dark suppressing light, they work together to create a unified whole, turning endlessly one into the other, each containing in its deepest core the seed of the other." One of the issues we run into with these polarities is that we prefer one end of the polarity and treat the other end as a problem to be solved, conquered, destroyed, or simply ignored.

This leads to the biggest problem I see in the spiritual communities I frequent in relation to anger and other "unpleasantness." There seems to be an unwillingness to give these qualities voice and attention, and they are bottled only to surface later at inappropriate times. The idea that we are too spiritual to have these qualities is ridiculous. Even Yogi Bhajan never claimed to be perfect- he actually said that the only difference between him and his students was that he didn't apologize for his faults. About denial, he said: "When you deny something, actually you are accepting those things very deep in your subconscious mind." In meditation, I've learned not to suppress thoughts, or I end up spending the whole time thinking about how I'm thinking and trying to stop. We will never stop thinking. And we are all filled with polarities that cannot be destroyed. We have to manage our polarities, putting them to work for us.

The beginning of this process is coming into a place of allowing- allowing any and all thoughts, feelings and polarities to arise and exist. There are masters who are able to remain constantly neutral and zen, but chances are you are not one of them (neither am I!). For us mere mortals, we're going to have bad days and there is no use pretending that everything is "soooo gooood!" when it's not. You don't have to be happy all the time. But you can certainly strive to always be truthful and allow yourself to live authentically.

Now that we're being more honest, it's time to stop seeing our polarities as problems to be solved. Here's a personal example: I can work very hard and I am also pretty self-indulgent and pleasure-centered. In the past, I have felt bad about my developed ability to relax, judging myself as lazy. Rather than seeing this as a problem, now I am working to manage and elevate this polarity. I know that in order to really relax, I need hard work to balance it and help me feel like I am actually relaxing. Both ends of the polarity are valuable. It's contrast that gives life its color and depth.

It's hard to simultaneously hold two opposites. We seem to naturally swing to one extreme or the other and glorify that ideology as The Way. When it comes to polarities, though, we have to accept that without one, the other couldn't exist. Neither pole is better than the other. Each side has positives and our job is to find those positive aspects and manifest them. Example: I contain a lot of light. I can also get pretty dark and heavy. My lightness is illuminating and uplifting. My darkness gives me a depth of feeling that allows me to better empathize with people going through hard times. Both sides are essential.

Why does this matter? Because there is immense power in harnessing our polarities rather than fighting them. We cannot ever stop being who we really are, so instead of denying our true, polarized natures, why not utilize both sides? Anger, sadness, introversion, rigidity...we've judged these things as being not as good as their opposites, but they have benefits. Anger gives us the push we sometimes need to move on. Sadness allows us the full experience of loss. Introversion provides periods of rest and renewal. Rigidity makes it possible for us to stand firm on issues we cannot afford to compromise on.

As The Byrds (actually Ecclesiastes...) would suggest, there is a season and time for everything. When it is time to reflect, take solace in your introversion. When it is time to hold your ground, turn to your rigidity. These aspects of yourself can serve you if you allow them. In doing so, you will be allowing yourself the full experience of your life, so instead of thinking about not being angry you can just be angry and move through it to happiness once more. Our life is a series of cycles, one turning into the next in graceful flow. Keep on turn, turn, turning...from one authentic, gloriously polarized moment to the next.

1 comment:

  1. Followed you from Christina's blog. What you have referred to as polarity is sometimes also referred by duality which implicitly considers both poles as a whole. I pretty much agree with what you have said and said it well. I think the real goal personally for me is to supersede polarities by not being attached to either of them. It's kind of very challenging. While I empathize with people caught on the negative pole I do not want to stay there long and it's also sometimes hard to give away the pride of successfully making to the positive pole. You have read some good people. Keep up!

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