Healing Love into Balance

Healing Love into Balance

Below is the preface to this week’s featured resource: Healing Love into Balance. Find the link to download this Brown paper at the end of this post.

Love in the Balance…

What an invitation, what a calling in, to collectively write about the power of LOVE in the face of betrayal, injustice, mass-death, and violation of our mother earth. When the four of us came together to see how LOVE could help us navigate the big tumultuous questions spurred by the events of 2020-21, one organizing principle came up again and again—BALANCE.

This, of course, was not the first time BALANCE had revealed itself to us as an organizing principle. I remember in early 2017 when the inauguration of Trump unleashed a flood of hate against our communities, a string of intense storms hit the Bay Area and caused major flooding in my neighborhood. This massive flood displaced families, caused millions of dollars in damage, and revealed some of the ways in which our systems are completely out of balance. What it also revealed was the power of Love. Neighbor helped neighbor to remove the water, sludge, and debris from all that was destroyed. At City Council meetings to address the flood, many impacted residents used their two minutes of public comment to acknowledge the kindness of others, or to share their own efforts to support their neighbors.

The neighborhoods most impacted by the flood were made up of predominantly Vietnamese and Spanish speaking residents already negatively impacted by systems out of balance. In the days directly following the flood, gratitude (despite and in full awareness of the injustice) kept me centered and my energies high. A symbol appeared clearly in my mind’s eye. It was a glowing orb with four arms extending out in the four directions and bending to the left.

As a student of Vedic wisdom and my own ancestral knowledge of ancient México, I recognized the symbol right away as signifying health and balance. The four directions represent the multiplicity of the material world (the elements earth, water, fire, and air; and all the living beings, birds, mammals, insects, etc.). The arms bend towards the left, indicating they spin clockwise around a single point of unity—the fundamental, absolute energy of the universe.

This symbol represents the interplay between diversity and unity, between the seen and the unseen, between movement and stillness. According to the indigenous Mexican philosophy of Nahuatl and Mayan-speaking culture groups, the material world is maintained by an equilibrium between the four elements who are in a constant struggle for dominance. If one of the elements achieves supremacy over the others, the destruction of the material world is imminent.

It follows that part of the responsibility of living beings is to help maintain the balance between the elements. For many generations now, economic systems based on resource extraction and labor exploitation have thrown the essential elements of life out of balance. The responsibility to cultivate balance has been largely replaced by the drive to accumulate wealth. And we are witnessing the consequences all around us in the interlocking crises of climate, health, and inequality.

I thought the other word that was interesting that you chose is that your aspiration is BALANCE and I definitely understand breaking from and avoiding destructive binaries. I know that my aspiration is to be more open and less judgmental. And that is one way of looking at my challenge with the word balance. Like mutual exchanges cannot just be transactions, right? Although transactions are part of the exchanges, it’s deeper than that. Well, then balance is equilibrium. And this idea, that interrelationship, and this relates to reciprocity again, this idea of balance is not just like you have your level and you can see that it’s even, It’s not this middleman territory where everything is compromised, so nothing means anything. It’s not that either. It’s a recognition that somehow my constant work is to be and support equilibrium. And it is this idea that no extreme is the right way or the best way or the only way so that there’s no perfect good and there’s no perfect bad and that we are all different, we have diverse contributions.

—Frankie Blackburn

Centering Love in our work, in our communities, in our movements, means reclaiming our sacred responsibility to cultivate balance. Given the extreme imbalance in our economic, social, and ecological systems, in many cases this means redistributing resources, energy, power, attention, and care.

This starts with bringing awareness to the balance of these elements within ourselves. Our bodies are made up of space, air, fire, water, and earth. And each of these elements corresponds to our five senses (hearing, smell, sight, taste, and touch), as well as serving as symbols for the qualities of our thoughts and emotions. When I am angry, and especially when I am “hangry,” the element of fire may dominate my system. Through a balanced diet, exercise, and sleep we can maintain a healthy physical system. And through a balance between work and rest, mental activity and inner silence, we can maintain a healthy nervous system. This is what self-care, the foundation for radical self-love, looks like.

Come back to our hearts. I talk with my heart. And I talk to my heart. I’m not just speaking; I take time, and speak to my own heart. Sometimes our hearts have things to say. These are not taught, not in trainings on how to do that.

—Lupe Renteria Salome

Being connected to ourselves, being centered, feels to me the key to connecting and caring for others. The key to mutuality. If I am depleted, how can I extend myself to you in a real way? If I am hungry for love, or thirsty for your attention, not loving or caring for myself, how can I receive love and care from you in a healthy way? Without the inner strength of self-love, nor mutuality within my close relations, how can I contribute to Beloved Community? And what then, will feed our efforts to transform systems?

The questions this Brown Paper seeks to explore are big. They are about our capacity to love big, to love through injustice, to love beyond borders and betrayal.

This paper is about our capacity to love our world back into Balance. Balance at the structural level, within and across systems like education, justice, food, housing, health, the media, and community development, is made possible by people and organizations cultivating balance within and between one another. We need to ask ourselves if we are building the kinds of organizational structures that not only allow for but cultivate balance. Are our structures replicating and perpetuating the power imbalances that led to the problems our work is meant to address? Are we replicating and perpetuating work patterns rooted in extraction and exploitation? Are our organizations too top heavy? Too reliant on specific individuals? If one piece is pulled from our collective Jenga will we topple over? Does our own self-talk and communications with others mine us of our energy and disturb our peace? Balance as an organizing principle not only motivates us to attend to the energy and relationships we may have neglected, it also offers ways forward when the big questions and big crises that our organizations and communities face feel overwhelming.

Balance asks us to start with ourselves and attend to our inner imbalances, then move out from there to our relationships to find what needs mending, and from there to our organizations to shine a light on culture and power dynamics, leading us finally to reenvisioning the systems that impact what we need to live.

When we find ourselves stuck within binary questions, Balance pivots us towards the middle path. Questions like to be pro-vaccine or anti-vaccine become questions like, “How can we ensure our communities are healthy?” “How can we avoid becoming too reliant on one solution or another, and instead take a holistic approach to ending the pandemic and protecting those most vulnerable?” Balance as an organizing principle helps us avoid throwing people away when they have caused harm, and instead looking at how the harm can be addressed. Balance leads us to root causes and whole systems solutions. Balance is one of the keys that will help unlock our capacity to build a world organized by Love and care.

Download Healing Love into Balance HERE

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