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Balance


As we approach the New Year, many people’s gaze turns towards how to go about making their life perfect. Of course, I am kidding. None of us would honestly say “I intend to make my life perfect in the New Year.” Though, secretly, I am pretty sure that is EXACTLY what we are REALLY saying. Pretty daunting task, that. And, likely, not an effective goal. So I will start this blog letting you off the hook or talking you off the ledge as the case may be: You are pretty darn awesome. You are enough just as you are in this moment. Loving yourself as you are RIGHT NOW gives you a far better chance of growing and expanding than disliking yourself does, so do that!

But I digress….

In my line of work I have asked many people what they want to manifest for the New Year, or in their life in general. Often the answer is a desire for balance. Sounds simple enough, right? But what does that mean? When pushed for details, most people will likely give you a result of a balanced life, a state of being resulting from balance. “I will be calm. My body will be pain free. My to-do list will be manageable. My family life will be harmonious and full of love.”

Beautiful sentiment, the above. And as a person fond of New Year’s affirmations (versus resolutions) I think those statements make for some fine ones. But they don’t speak to what balance in your life actually, nuts and bolts, looks like. They don’t give you any help in figuring out how to manifest that way of being.

What is balance, really?

Most of us have an intuitive idea about what the word means, so we don’t really look at it concretely. But it is a beautiful thing to think about.

Balance is a play between stability and flexibility/adaptivity. You must be grounded, but also free to shift your stance.

So clearly we need stability. I think most people focus on that aspect when they are thinking of balance in their life. We need a strong body. A healthy financial life. Good friends. A clean kitchen and a tidy lawn. We need to run half marathons and accomplish yoga poses. We need to manage our schedule. Pay our bills on time. Be ready to entertain at the drop of a hat. We need to have a system in place so that our life runs without a hitch. All powerful ways of being. But, what about the ability to be flexible? To adapt your stance? To gracefully navigate the things that go wrong, the days that explode in your face, the tragedies that naturally befall one? Can you scrap your to-do list when you notice that a nap would feel better? Can you be carefree? Can you choose yourself over your duty? Can you make a mistake, but not let it bring you to the ground?

Ah, that last one is important and it leads me to another thought. To “find balance” you must learn, when adjusting your stance, not to over or under correct. Man, it seems human nature to live in the extremes. And we don’t seem to care for patient growth. We want it all. We want it now. But picture a gymnast on a balance beam. It is rarely her swinging arms that keep her upright, but much more often an abundance of micro-corrections in her foot and ankle. Subtle. Lacking panic. Confident. Practiced. Ah...yes, practiced. Balance is a practice.

(Pierre-Yves Beaudouin / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0)

Balance is also a play between masses, densities and tensions across a pivot point, a lever.

Picture the teeter totter here. Or a mobile. That might be a better metaphor for a life. I love mobiles and have for quite a long time. Glorious feats, they are. Requiring math, I’d