Wax on. Wax off.
August 31, 2012 by

“Lesson not just karate only. Lesson for whole life. Whole life have a balance. Everything be better. Understand?”-Mr. Miyagi

Ever felt disheartened? Ever wonder when _____ will ever end? Ever had your life’s outlook be partly cloudy with a chance of thunderstorms? Maybe it’s just been one of those days/weeks/months/years?

What to do when you’re in one of those funks? Think about inspirational people like Thomas Edison and all of his failures to generate his one success that made it all worth it? Well, for me, motivational stories are great when I’m feeling just fine and, well, motivated. When I’m having a dreadful day, inspiration is usually the last thing I want and almost always has the opposite effect. And I think I know why.

Several years ago, I started taking tai chi. It is an amazing art form and martial art that offers many important lessons about life (aside from the health benefits). One of the philosophies of tai chi is called Yin-Yang and is often represented by the famous symbol:

Image courtesy of hisks

Generally speaking, and depending on the form, tai chi consists of two movements, the first is a forward or offensive movement (yang) which is often followed by the second soft or defensive movement (yin). The power in tai chi comes from meeting an opponents forward movement (yang) with your own softness (yin) and then when their advance completes, to follow with your own offensive movement (yang). To meet an opponent’s offense with your own offense expels energy and the person with the strongest  offense will win. Meeting an opponents offense with softness causes them to expend their energy and put them in a position of vulnerability when you then advance with your offense.

Following the example of my wise teacher, this is how I try to meet life.

There are times when life comes at us hard, with full-force, and if we try to resist with our own strength, we expend a lot of energy. Life can be very powerful and unforgiving. It can knock us off our feet if our resistance weakens even for a moment or if we’re not strong enough to withstand the barrage. However, if we meet life’s aggressions with softness, eventually the tides will turn and we can make our move with strength and vitality because we not only saved our energy, but we can then use life’s expended energy to launch forward.

Image by hvaldez

Life comes in waves. Some look at life through the yin and yang, some call it opposition in all things, but either way, there are times where we are in a rut and there are times when we feel like we are on top of things and nothing can get us down. I try to appreciate both moments because both are needed. It is about balance. When life is coming hard, take time to plan, to learn, to rest because it will soon stop, and it is important to be ready to come out with your full strength and resources, advance, and put into action the plans you made.

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