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Diane Dreher's Tao Leadership Blog

Finding our balance in a turbulent world

From the violence in the Middle East, to political conflicts in our nation's capital, too often we can get caught up in the logical fallacy of the false dilemma. It's all around us-- on the news, in our personal lives, our communities and relationships. This false dilemma limits our choices, reducing the complexity of our lives to only two alternatives—either/or—either right or wrong, good or evil, my way or your way, all or nothing. And too often what starts out as a difference of opinion divides people in painful conflicts.

 

Yet in the natural world, opposites are part of the larger whole—day and night, sunlight and shadow, earth and sky. We participate in nature's cyclical patterns in which opposites blend in dynamic balance. For humans and animals breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide while plants do just the opposite. Breathing in and breathing out, we balance each other.

 

The ancient wisdom of the Tao Te Ching, written over 25 centuries ago,  reminds us to transcend conflict by looking for the larger patterns, the dynamic balance in the opposites around us, for:

 

When some are called beautiful

The rest are seen as ugly.

When we prize one quality as good,

The rest becomes inferior.

Yet each extreme complements the other

Large and small,

Light and dark,

Short and tall,       

Beginnings and endings

Bring balance to life.

 

Tao Te Ching, Chapter 2.

 

We can each do our part to create greater balance within and around us. By making more mindful choices we can avoid falling into the pit of polarized thinking, avoid the mental trap of the false dilemma, and reduce the violence and suffering in our world.

 

Whenever you face a potential conflict, pause to take a deep breath and slowly release it. Then, as you continue to breathe slowly and deeply, remember this wisdom of Tao. Ask yourself, "Where can I find the greater balance?"

 

Where is the harmony of sunlight and shadow in this part of your life?

 

I wish you joy on the path.

 

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Time to Plant New Seeds

As we emerge from a long, dark season of Covid lockdown, it's time to pause for a moment of gratitude. Take a deep breath. Look around you to notice the signs of life—new buds and leaves on trees that have been bare all winter, vibrant spring blossoms.

 

Spring is a time to plant new seeds in our gardens and our lives. I've been planting snow peas, watching them climb up stakes with their natural intelligence. In many parts of the country, it's time to plant a new season's vegetables and herbs. Some of my favorite herbs are

 

Rosemary, long believed to improve memory, a natural anti-inflammatory with several health benefits. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/266370.

For a delicious side dish, roast new potatoes with olive oil, salt, pepper, and sprigs of fresh rosemary.

 

Parsley, often used as a garnish, is rich in vitamins. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/284490#diet.

Sprinkle parsley on your foods to add more flavor and vitamins to your meals.

 

Lavender is used in aromatherapy for calmness and peace of mind. People used to put lavender under their pillows to promote a good night's sleep. For the health benefits of lavender, see https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/266370. Their bright violet blossoms could grace the garden of your life this spring. 

 

Whether you're planting herbs or a new season of vegetables, for all of us, it's time to plant new seeds of possibilities.

 

After a year of lockdown, you might feel like getting outside--to exercise, work in your garden, walk around your neighborhood, even hike in a nearby park—while maintaining public health guidelines, including social distancing. Is this a time for you to begin a new exercise practice?

 

After the long dark winter, you could use the energies of spring for a new beginning. What would that look like for you? Would you like to clear away household clutter, refinish a piece of furniture, start a home improvement project, rediscover an old hobby, sign up for a class, or adopt a new kitten or puppy?

 

Take a moment to ask yourself what you feel called to do, then follow your heart. Set a goal, write it down along with steps to your goal. Then take the first step to embrace your own personal renewal this spring.

 

For as the Tao Te Ching tells us:

 

A tree that grows beyond your reach

Springs from a tiny seed.

A building over nine stories high

Begins with a handful of earth.

A journey of a thousand miles

Begins with a single step.

 

I wish you joy in this new season.

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