Learn why this is something worth mastering. It promotes the harmonization of external and internal energies. It is the key to balancing these opposing elements. See how this can benefit your life.
Learn to Be Both Soft and Strong
Kindness is the first step towards strength with tenderness. Showing kindness to others starts with being kind to ourselves. So, we must add self-care to our routine. It isn’t easy to help others when you are in need. Learn about and practice self-compassion. These tools will give you a foundation.
It takes courage to take the path of gentleness, and this is the Eastern quality of Yin. The journey requires us to resist negative emotions like anger or self-pity. To do this, you’ll need to engage the power of your Will. You’ll also need to make an honest assessment of your spiritual path and make the changes you need.
The realm of spiritual exploration contains many examples of being both soft and strong. For instance, you must learn to be gentle when examining your faults. And then strong enough to push through the negative inertia that keeps us from making the changes we want to make. It takes strength and vulnerability to examine our beliefs and face our fears.
Our inner critic can overpower our thinking processes. When we use self-love and self-forgiveness, the inner critical voice is silent. So we find acceptance not by strength but through gentleness. Instead of condemnation and judgment, we “feel” the peace of forgiveness. In return, this strengthens us. We chose the path of gentleness, and this makes us strong. It’s a combination worth mastering.
Several things seem opposite but are complementary elements on the same continuum. For instance, martial arts and silent meditation seem like opposites, but they are the same path elements.
The body benefits from movement, and the mind benefits from stillness. — Sakyong Mipham
Many of the top athletes talk about how, when they find the grove, they move effortlessly. They describe it as an inner silence or stillness. So, alternating movement and stillness is a combination worth mastering.
A Combination Worth Mastering
In the arena of internal martial arts, this is the essence of the practice. Becoming both soft and strong at the same time relates to the physical and mental aspects of the art. You seem to be weak because you become like water. You do not oppose the force of your opponent directly. Instead, you redirect their energy for your benefit. You learn to do this by controlling your nervous system.
When something is threatening our physical safety, the Sympathetic Nervous (SN) system takes charge. It’s the default setting of the nervous system. After all, the sympathetic system activates the “fight, flight, or freeze” response of our primitive monkey brain. The SN system increases blood flow to muscles by shutting down blood flow to the skin and intestines.
Unfortunately, the brain responds to the increased adrenalin and a host of other powerful enzymes. It shuts off the higher thinking centers of the brain. That’s the problem. With the SN in control, you might be stronger and faster, but it’s reactionary and inefficient. Your action is likely wrong.
Thus, with SN in control, you experience a loss of higher thinking power needed to assess the rapidly changing combat situation. You are literally under the influence of the primitive mind centers, the source of fear and anger. In a combat situation, you need to move on time; this requires the higher-thinking center. These higher thinking powers are the domain of the parasympathetic nervous system.
It is why martial artists train to engage the parasympathetic nervous system. They learn to override the automatic engagement of the sympathetic nervous system. On the surface, this seems counterintuitive. However, we want to engage the parasympathetic nervous system to use the higher thinking capability. The ability to reason and act correctly is what you need in this life-threatening situation.
So, with the proper training, learn to be soft and fluid. It hides your skills and inner strength. You appear as an easy opponent. By the time the opponent realizes the mistake, it is too late. They are the victim of their faulty assessment of your actual ability. With the Parasympathetic in charge, you can “move on time” and in the “right way.” This skillset is how you defeat a stronger and faster opponent. Strength and speed are assets of the body, but the mind can beat these.
Speed is bull____. Timing is everything. ― Guru Tua
You can move on time because you learn to be in control of your emotions; this is the essence of being both soft and strong.
Almost every form of seated meditation has a complimentary moving aspect. Some ancient forms contain both silence and movement, like the Shamanic Journey or all of the healing arts. Select two complementary spiritual tools. Make them a combination worth mastering.
If this article resonates, you’ll find more to spark your interest on our blog. To learn more about our organization, see our page FAQ. Register on our site to receive discounts on training and unadvertised material. We comply with all GDPR guidelines and never share or sell your contact data.
Are you interested in spiritual exploration? Check out the blended learning process at the core of our teaching process. It reflects what Joseph Campbell called the Hero’s Journey (1). Our learning options include both face-to-face and virtual learning sessions. Please consider donating and supporting our mission.
(1) Joseph Campbell & Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero’s Journey, Wikipedia