Perceiving Things That Cannot Be Seen

Steven Barnes
3 min readMay 10

The Three Gates have limits. There are times it becomes impractical to apply “kindness” without deep philosophical consideration. Under stress, your primary obligation is survival. Applying them to the Three Centers

Hmmm. Being out of integrity with the Three Gates strikes me as similar to being out of balance in the Three Centers. Let me investigate that.

Let me posit that my best, healthiest, most successful and happy life is balanced between the Three Gates and Three Centers. That there is a useful relationship between them. Under stress, we can get out of balance. Look at this in terms of the stress-strain paradigm: it isn’t stress that hurts you, it is STRAIN. That it isn’t that “what does not kill me makes me stronger” but “that which doesn’t kill me, that also doesn’t exceed my body-mind’s capacity to adapt, makes me stronger.”

How, then, can we tell when we are struggling with stress, that it is approaching our maximum capacity?

And something just hit me. Look at the physical arena. When a yoga pose exceeds your capacity to perform correctly, you violate the triumverate of breath, movement, and structure. BREATHING will be the first to get funky.

I know that there are times — maybe MOST times, when for most people they cannot have perfectly balanced days, with family, career, and body all cared for perfectly. Even defining what that would BE can be difficult.

But if you exceed the amount of stress you can handle physically, it will disrupt breath, movement, or alignment (structure.)

Hmmm. When life stress exceeds our healthy capacity to cope with it, do we, might we, re-align or re-jigger our balance to cope with it? Might that require that we step into imbalance in order to GAIN balance? That balance becomes dynamic, like running down a hill, rather that static, like a three-legged stool? We all do this at times, and health will be a matter of re-balancing as rapidly as possible. When training for an athletic event, you might sacrifice work or family a bit. When dealing with a family emergency (or vacation!) you might step away from business, or miss workouts and eat outside your dietary pattern (food is fun!). And when there is an emergency at work, or you are training for an advanced credential, you might pull all-nighters and not see friends for weeks.

It makes sense. But you don’t STAY there. And people who remain in that unbalanced…

Steven Barnes

Steven Barnes is a NY Times bestselling author, ecstatic husband and father, and holder of black belts in three martial arts.