The zero balancing point

The zero balancing point

JANMARIE CONNOR explores some practical ways to create harmony and balance where there is tension, conflict and disagreement. How can polar opposites coexist?

Years ago, I facilitated a weekend workshop with a group of Catholic Sisters. They were having great difficulty envisioning a way forward for their religious community. From their vantage point, the world they knew, including the Church and their place in it, was on its head. Their capacity to meet the needs of the inner-city population they served was strained. The Sisters’ advancing age and shrinking numbers made it increasingly difficult to fulfill their mission. And their mission was bound to their reason for being – their purpose in life.

The complexity of the situation and the chaotic circumstances around them had taken a toll on these dedicated women. Fractures began to appear within the group, resembling the fractures in the community they served, and in the broader societal landscape. Individual perspectives on how or how not to advance had become hardened and polarized. Even simple decisions, like where to have lunch, required facilitation. By their own account, the group members were feeling isolated, angry and sorrowful.

Sound familiar?

The sisters might have been channeling the voice of our present collective experience. You don’t have to go far to find an angry disagreement on just about anything under the sun. Rigid perspectives and emotional outbursts are no longer confined to topics on religious, economic and political power, although they remain root culprits. For example, an online forum of neighborhood birdwatchers that I previously enjoyed is now off my list after several group members came to verbal blows. Was it a Black-headed Grosbeak or a Spotted Towhee? It wasn’t a battle over the birds, per se. It was a battle of who was right and who was wrong, and neither side would relent. Whichever side you were on depended on your vantage point – quite literally.

How have we come to this?

We are under an extraordinary amount of pressure as a society, with problems so big they boggle the mind. No need to name them as we can all fill in the blanks. If left unchecked, this sort of pressure short-circuits our ability to stay grounded and make space for a variety of perspectives which are needed for creative problem solving. The greater the pressure or complexity, the more polarized the reaction.

If left unchecked, this sort of pressure
short-circuits our ability

to stay grounded and make space
for a variety of perspectives

which are needed for creative problem solving.
The greater the pressure or complexity,
the more polarized the reaction.

Fortunately for us – an expanded vantage point on polarity

It is our good fortune that there is a principle inherent within polarity that eases the pressure and provides a bridge which unites divergent poles and perspectives. When we think of a polarity, we think in terms of dualistic pairs: up-down, good-bad, right-wrong, etc.

Polarity can be described as two sides possessing a high degree of contrary tension, as in the positive and negative poles of a magnet or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In cases of extreme polarity, it is easy to believe that polar opposites cannot co-exist. But the integrative principle is operative at every level, until such a high level is reached where opposites no longer exist. Nature provides endless examples.

We find it easy to accept tension in contrast when appreciating color or pairing flavors in a recipe. Opposing colors on a chromatic wheel are called complementary contrasts. Our sensory perception heightens the contrast while our brain works to unify it, resulting in a coherent experience. It’s a hard-wired response.

According to The Art of Color, by Johannes Itten, “Two such colors make a strange pair … they require each other. They incite each other to maximum vividness when adjacent; and they annihilate each other, to gray-black, when mixed – like fire and water.”

Bringing water to the fire is a nice analogy for finding balance in our polarized world. From this expanded vantage point, we can have faith in our and others’ inherent ability to integrate what presents as fixed positions and polarities. In the material realm, we are crossing the bridge from reaction to response. Now we have possibilities for a more balanced way forward.

Even greater fortune awaits us

Even greater fortune awaits us when we begin exploring this same inherent principle, but now in the subtler realms. Take another look at the color wheel. Consider again that opposites require one another when divining a more holistic and balanced life flow. Now look at the gray circle at the center and consider it as the heart of the wheel. And the white space around it as the field that supports the wheel. Has the gray circle in the center been formed by the opposing color pairs, or vice versa? And could the color wheel even exist without the field?

Dr. Joe Dispenza beautifully describes this:

“The heart serves as our connection to the unified field and represents the union of duality or polarity. It is where separation, division, and polarized energy merge to become one – where opposites unify.”

The heart waits patiently for us to shine the light of our attention on it. When we do this, through heart-focused meditation, we begin to experience the union of polarities that Dr. Dispenza describes. And when we approach the heart with humility and an openness toward what we might discover, our union can take us to indescribable heights. It’s as if the loving light of our attention is mirrored in the heart, and the heart shines back on us.

From this vantage point, balance is very real, and practical. We are released from the play of action and reaction. We are given divine resource, allowing the heart, the field, and all of the contrast to carry out their unified purpose.

“The heart serves as our connection to the unified field
and represents the union of duality or polarity.
It is where separation, division, and polarized energy
 to become one – where opposites unify.”
– Dr. Joe Dispenza

What happened to the Sisters?

You might wonder what happened to the Sisters. Me too. I can tell you this much. They came to the weekend with pressure to consider ten vital questions and to make movement in some direction. We spent the first half of our weekend in silence, standing side by side on a masking tape line. The line represented Zero. It was the position in the room without a position. It held the heart, the field, and the Sisters. It was where they were silently reacquainted with the Essence of their mission – their reason for being. It was the place where they stood together, with open hearts, tenderly receiving come what may.

And from this line, vantage point zero, they moved. There were ten lines in front of zero and ten lines behind. They allowed their hearts and bodies to move them to the place on the scale which matched their degree of resonance with the question. And between each question they returned to vantage point zero. Not long after the weekend, I received a letter from one of the Sisters. She ended by saying she would carry the experience with her for the rest of her life.

Illustrations by ANANYA PATEL

Janmarie Connor

About Janmarie Connor

Janmarie is the CEO of a construction company. A wife, mother and grandmother, Janmarie has spent her adult life bringing heart into predominately male spaces. It’s a continual journey of exploring the heart’s capacity to open, uplift and transcend life’s circumstances. She enjoys seeing this unfold through her volunteer work serving underprivileged Latino youth, and in her work as a certified trainer with the Heartfulness Institute.

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