Balancing peace and power, water and fire2 min read

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There are two different forces in our life: movement and stillness, power and peace. In Tantra, we call them Shakti and Shiva.

Movement is more like fire. It is dynamic and it needs fuel. The fuel is desire, be it in the form of a goal, impulse, interest, or attraction. In our brain, it is dopamine, which leads to focus and motivation.

Stillness is more like water, cooling and soothing. It makes you feel satisfied, happy, and calm. In our brain, it is seratonin which accompanies the sense of things being good as their are, and you being happy with yourself.

Some people gravitate more toward one of these than the other. Or it could also be that in some areas of your life you want more stillness and contentment, while in others you want more movement and motivation. If you are curious about what it is for me, I’m definitely more of a fire and movement person (which explains my uncommon approach to meditation and mindfulness). But my motto is empowered peace, showing the balance of both.

Depending on which of these elements you emphasize, your choice of activities and your mindset will be different. If you feel happy with what you’ve achieved so far in your life, you’ll have stillness and water. If you feel that whatever you have achieved is nothing, and that the really exciting journey is ahead of you, you’ll be full of movement and fire.

These two energies can also have their shadow sides. Unbalanced fire can lead you to restlessness, anxiety, impostor syndrome, and negative perfectionism. Unbalanced water can lead you to depression, boredom, and low vitality.


Reflect on what you need more of, in each different area of your life.

If you want more fire in your life, cultivate desire and focus; if you want more water, cultivate acceptance and contentment. You can choose what you want to emphasize, but make sure to include some of the opposite, and find the ideal balance for you. Otherwise your fire may burn out, and your water get stale.

Going Deeper

To learn more about balancing fire and water, read Chapter 3 of Mindful Self-Discipline.


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