The Function of Imbalance

Posted by Danny Dreyer on Thu Feb 28th, 2002, No comments (be the first!)

If you've been a long-time reader of these articles, you know that I've been a student of "Universal Law" for some time now. I'm always looking for laws that operate in this world of ours by which all of us have to live. Actually, I should say, you don't have to live by them. You always have a choice not to. But if you decide to not live by the "Law" you can make your life much more difficult than it really needs to be. With all that said, here's the latest law that I've discovered in my wanderings.

The Law of Imbalance and Equilibrium

In order for anything to evolve to it's next appropriate level of existence - to grow - it needs to be prodded or stretched out of its state of equilibrium into a state of imbalance at which time the forces of Nature are engaged to create a new state of equilibrium at a new level. If this premise is true then balance and growth cannot exist simultaneously because balance implies a state of equilibrium or non-movement and growth implies a state of movement on some level. This all sounds very heady and esoteric, but as do all the other crazy ideas in these articles, it applies directly to your running! Here's how.

Let's say that you've been regularly practicing all of your Chi Running focuses and you've gotten to the point where you can run at a nice relaxed pace, all while whistling pop tunes. Your body has been so used to running at this pace for so long that it's pretty relaxed and effortless for you. In essence, you've reached a nice state of equilibrium with your running. You might feel very much at home and "balanced" in this state. So you say to yourself, "Well, this is ok, but I'd like to get a little faster." What do you do?

Well, if you haven't made paper airplanes out of your original class handouts, you could pull out the appropriate sheet and find out that if you want to go faster all you have to do is LEAN more. So then you go out for your next run and try to lean more. What happens? If you're doing it right you'll feel like you're tipping more forward than you're used to you're off balance a bit. It'll probably feel somewhat uncomfortable when you first try to hold yourself more forward, but with each progressive run it seems to get easier because your abs are having to work harder and thereby getting stronger. Nature is doing its part by providing you with stronger abdominal muscles to handle this new angle of lean, and after some weeks or maybe months, you find yourself running along with a new lean WHILE WHISTLING POP TUNES, just like you used to when you were doing the old 9:30/mile pace, except now you're running at an 8:30/mile pace! In essence, your running evolved because you introduced a state of imbalance where one hadn't existed before. Then your body made the necessary adjustments and voila, you end up in a new state of "balance" which is a step above your original state.

If you look back on this whole scenario, you'll notice that none of it would have happened if you had not introduced a state of imbalance into your running (more lean). If you would have never increased your lean, you would never have reached a new level of running at a faster speed. This initial state of imbalance that you created by leaning more is what triggered Nature to give you all those stronger abdominal muscles and now you're a different runner you've grown!

That's what growth is all about. It doesn't come when things are "status quo". It only happens when something new is introduced to the present paradigm, forcing every integral part to make the necessary adjustment.

The reason why this is a Universal Law is that it can be applied on any level of life and it still works. This law is at work whether it's expanding a business or helping a shy person to become a better public speaker.

In the case of expanding a business, somebody's either got to work more hours than normal, or sell more product than normal or organize themselves more than normal. You name it. Something's got to happen that's beyond the normal state of existence in order for something progressive to come about. Then things will begin to fall into place that support the new condition until it becomes balanced again but in an expanded version.

A shy person will remain a shy person unless he or she initiates a state of imbalance. That might take the form of putting oneself into social circumstances where one is challenged to mingle and talk more than normal. When a shy person has to engage more than they're used to, it might feel awkward (a state of imbalance). But if that person does it regularly and often, it will get easier and easier until the former state of imbalance goes away and a new state of balance is achieved one in which that same person might now feel comfortable in a crowd. And that growth might never have happened if that person hadn't dove into the crowd in the first place.

I don't want imply that just because you're in a state of imbalance you're growing, but the possibility of growth is there. Many people, too many people, live most of their lives in an unbalanced state and never get anywhere.

To get this law to work for you, it's necessary to come from a balanced state and make a conscious choice to improve it. Then, instead of outside forces initiating imbalance in your life, you choose when to stretch yourself and create the necessary state of imbalance. Your job is to make the required adjustments, which help to move you forward (such as really working on holding that lean). Once you make the choice to grow, you'll be amazed at how the forces of Nature line up behind you to help you get the job done.

Balance and growth are two of the main principles that keep Nature ticking along in the wonderful way that it does.


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Over the past 45 years, I have trained for and run a race of one mile or longer every year but one. I worked my way up to running marathons, but in 1982 began experiencing knee pain – ultimately in both knees. 

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