“Your hand opens and closes, opens and closes. If it were always a fist or always stretched open, you would be paralysed. Your deepest presence is in every small contracting and expanding, the two as beautifully balanced and coordinated as birds’ wings.”― Jelaluddin Rumi
I saw a post on Instagram a few weeks ago and it contained this phrase:
Balance is bullshit.
Is it though?
At one point in my life, I would have said YES. A BIG FAT YES. I would have nodded my head in agreement thinking I should go easier on myself and let go of the need that I will ever arrive at a state in my life where there is equilibrium, and surrender to a life that has me bouncing and juggling and stressed out.
I was there. I had dozens of balls in the air and felt overwhelmed and wondering if balance could be achieved, wondering if I could ever be that woman sitting cross legged on a beach somewhere, clad in white linen, serene and content. You know that lady. You have seen her on meditation ads or retreat promotional material or on the cover of those blasted “self-care” books.
I’ll return to that woman later.
A few years ago, I wrote a blog post about balance as my thoughts began to change about this seemingly elusive creature. But in the end, I was still chasing it. After reading the post, I realized how close I was to understanding and living this balance thing.
People may have different opinions on balance but let’s talk a little bit about homeostasis. In my biology classes with my teens, we talked a lot about homeostasis and the beauty of living organisms.
Homeostasis is the maintenance of a healthy physiological equilibrium in a changing world. Reactive (feedback, counter-regulatory) and predictive (feedforward, anticipatory) homeostatic control strategies are both important for survival.From: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0028390818308116
Maintaining homeostasis requires that the body continuously monitor its internal conditions. From body temperature to blood pressure to levels of certain nutrients, each physiological condition has a particular set point. A set point is the physiological value around which the normal range fluctuates. A normal range is the restricted set of values that is optimally healthful and stable.https://opentextbc.ca/anatomyandphysiology/chapter/1-5-homeostasis/
Homeostasis, according to biologists, is a common trait among living things. ALL living things. And here is the kicker: our physical bodies are always adjusting in order to be “stable” – to achieve homeostasis. Our body has wisdom that is always moving us toward a state of optimal functioning. And when our natural systems begin to fail, it is probably due to a reaction from something external we haven’t been able to monitor consciously.
But that’s the beauty of our bodies. When we do not feel well, it is signaling to us to recalibrate. The same is with our thoughts and feelings. The how is different because we can’t rely on an autonomic system to do the work. We have to make the choice.
We are wired to be balanced and whether we want to engage in it or not, our body is always moving towards it, that’s its goal because it is necessary for our survival.
Back to that lady sitting on the beach.
I have been that woman many times over the last few years. The moment doesn’t last. I have stopped clinging and chasing it. I enjoy it when I am there. And the more I enjoy it and let go, the more it pops up.
I have felt completely calm and at peace where I am. And sometimes it has been literally on that beach. If I step back and view my life on a different time scale, take the wider view than just a string of stressful days, then I have lived a balanced life. I have been present and kind and also have been distracted and stressed. I have made choices that benefitted that greater good and choices I needed to make for myself and sometimes, I was aware enough to be grateful when those choices satisfied both.
I have felt most balanced when I have asked the question I outlined in that old blog post:
Whose heart is calling to me the loudest?
The biggest change since that post is that I listen to my heart too now. My heart gets priority just as much as anyone in my family and in my community. My sense of balance is dictated by how I feel. If I can focus on the one little thing that my heart needs me to do in this moment, and then again, and then again, that present moment-centred triage, then I am right where I need to be – a maintained state of stability INSIDE.
Fun fact: the use of the word “balance” was to describe an actual object – a scale for weighing.
I continue to weigh. Weigh the heaviness of hearts. Weigh my time. Weigh what’s essential. Weigh what I need to do in just this moment. Weigh how much I need to reflect on the past without regret. Weigh how much I need to wonder about the future without worry.
- Write about your scale for weighing – how do you weigh decisions of what to commit to? How do you weigh how you spend your time and who you spend it with?
- Answer the question for yourself: What do you think of BALANCE and living a creative life?
- Draw your take on BALANCE.
- Copy the Rumi quote above or the definitions of homeostasis to remind yourself that the act of balancing is absolutely natural.
MayBE we can entertain the possibility that balance is achieveable once we redefine the definitions and the conditions for ourselves ….More on the conditions tomorrow…