Seeing beyond duality

How often do you find yourself caught up in “either/or” thinking? You might notice yourself thinking everything in life is either a success or failure, that your way of doing things is always the right way, or that there has to be a winner and a loser. This approach of seeing life as a play of opposites is termed dualistic thinking. When we look at life through a dualistic lens, we tend to miss a lot of goodness in between.

Energetically speaking, one’s ability to hold space for opposites is governed by the sixth chakra, known as Ajna in Sanskrit. This chakra is located at the space between the eyebrows, often referred to as the third eye. Its qualities include intuition, imagination, discernment, wisdom, insight and belief in one’s own intelligence.

When out of balance one might experience difficulty concentrating, poor memory, delusions and nightmares. When steadiness is experienced in Ajna chakra, one is able to use wisdom and clarity to move beyond dualities. With practice, we come to see life’s ups and downs as a process of learning that ultimately leads to a vision of openness, wholeness and unity. Some explain a nondualistic view as an approach of “yes, and” versus “yes, but.”

If you are interested in welcoming opportunities to see beyond duality in your own life, consider the following:

  • Meditation: A key tool for seeing beyond dualities. Check out the Insight Timer app which offers plenty of free meditations.
  • Alternate nostril breathing: This technique helps to activate Ajna chakra.
  • Child’s Pose: This calming and quieting yoga pose helps balance Ajna chakra through the contact of the forehead with the floor, blanket, or block.
  • Mantra: A regular practice of simply chanting “OM” welcomes discernment, insight and clarity.

Benefits of viewing life through a nondualistic lens include being less judgmental and defensive. You might even begin to see your partner’s side of things in an argument, connect with others in new ways, and experience less conflict in your relationships.

As always, I suggest choosing a technique or two and keeping with it for at least a month. Please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions or feedback. mcrawfrd@illinois.edu