Finding Balance

I pretty much suck at spirituality.

I ask all the wrong questions.  And then get impatient when I don’t like the answers.  I used to drive my parents and my teachers to distraction with the questions, questions, questions. “It’s a mystery!” never satisfied me as an answer. I pick apart the logic of traditional forms of spirituality and many of the newer forms I find a little embarrassing.  Except for the Law of Attraction.  To me, that’s like grabbing someone by the shoulders, screaming “THEY CAN SMELL FEAR” and throwing them out alone in the woods with the bears.  It’s just mean.  Actually, come to think of it, some of the older forms of spirituality do the same thing…

I cannot meditate.  And yoga makes me swear.  A LOT.  So when I  read about peoples’ quests to ‘find balance’, supportive as I want to be, my sinuses cramp up with my efforts not to roll my eyes. 

Well they used to, anyway, because a couple of weeks ago,  I tripped over a lump of nothing in the sidewalk (this happens quite often) and as I staggered about, trying not to fall on my face, the light bulb went off. 

See, because I had always viewed ‘Balance’ as this om-ed out, static state, one that meant removing yourself from interaction with the big, nutty, amazing world around you.  And I wanted no part of that.  But as I regained my own physical balance (thankfully with no damage to my person) and continued, embarrassed, down the street, it dawned on me all the myriad adjustments and reactions that go into balance.  You have to be aware of everything around you.  You have to know what to respond to and what to ignore.  And even when you’re standing still, your leg muscles are making constant adjustments, the earth is spinning, your heart is beating and it all goes into this actually very dynamic, responsive state called balance.

Taking it to a (ahem) spiritual level, I can now see balance as something worth pursuing (and I apologize for all the suppressed eye-rolling.  I was wrong).  Because instead of insulating us from the general cacophony of life, it actually lets us enter into it more deeply.  We have to be aware of what’s around us, deciding, yes, what to respond to and what to ignore.

It’s not a state that’s achieved once and for all and then lived in.  If I’d been paying attention, I’d have realized that no one ever says “I have achieved balance”.  It’s always about trying to find it.  It is in fact, as messy and dynamic and challenging as life itself.  Not (as I had secretly feared) boring at all.

I’m not really sure where this thought process will take me.  I’m just on step one here.  But it’s opened up a world of new possibilities and allowed me to take lots of things off my Don’t Like List.  I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.  What do you think about balance?  Is there another category of lifestyle that you have trouble with (simplicity maybe)? Anything you might want to rethink?  Please leave a comment and let me know.

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22 Responses to Finding Balance

  1. Susan Young says:

    What an interesting insight, Barb.

    Although I’m constantly and continually striving for balance, I always feel aggravated when I’m advised that balance means doing without something that I really like doing! My problem is–and the problem of many people–is that they like lots of things!

    As you’ve indicated, an awareness of what goes on around you is pretty important because, when aware, you can put one thing aside to tend to another, thereby keeping everything around you in balance as much as your contribution will assist with that.

    Nice post. Keep up the good blogging, Barb, and watch yourself in this snowy weather!

    • Barb says:

      Thanks so much Susan!

      I’m starting to realize that ‘simplicity’ and ‘a messy life’ aren’t mutually exclusive. It’s what I think you’re saying and something I want to explore further.

      As to the snow – thankfully I mostly get around on foot right now, so no worries there, thanks!

  2. Striving for balance. I’ve always thought it was something that you achieve and then you’re done. But we are constantly changing and evolving with things pushing us from every direction. The balance is giving a little push back and straightening up again. Something we will be working at for our entire lives. Hopefully, it just gets easier through practice.

  3. Noreen says:

    Lovely post Barb! (Yet again 🙂 )

    “T
    hat’s like grabbing someone by the shoulders, screaming “THEY CAN SMELL FEAR” and throwing them out alone in the woods with the bears” made me giggle like anything. (Although I’m of a different opinion about the LoA but the image is FAB!)

    Balance is a dynamic, responsive state. Oh yes it is. I love your ‘definition’ (for want of a better word) of balance as “(being) aware of what’s around us, deciding, yes, what to respond to and what to ignore.” I hadn’t considered it like that before, but I like that!

    xox

  4. Barb says:

    Thanks so much Noreen! We’ll have a discussion about the LoA one of these days, yes?

  5. Hm. Interesting. I’m afraid that I’ve spend my entire life avoiding even saying the word “balance” because I heard so much BS about it growing up in a hippie/new age community. It was crystals, tantric sex, omming, mantras, piercings, etc. Ad nauseum. But I will admit that while I didn’t actually SAY balance – and I didn’t believe in these people’s idea of balance per se, I have worked at achieving some sort of alert contentment. I’m not sure that makes sense, but it’s what comes to me. I’m going to have to think about this some more – a sign of a good post!

    • Barb says:

      Excellent! Thinking is good…

      I love the term ‘alert contentment’. It’s amazing how certain terms can become so loaded with the wrong kind of meaning for us, isn’t it?

      Thanks so much for checking in. I’d love to hear what new ideas you come up with on this!

  6. Lindsay says:

    Well, I think sometimes “balance” is another perfectly fine word that’s been “branded”. I’ve observed in many instances a quest for “balance” really just means the seeker is running around on a rocky beach stubbing toes, looking for a surfboard to climb aboard and paddle away from the shore, hoping to catch a really good wave…..

    But should good fortune set you on that board, on that wave, the word “balance” might not enter the picture… maybe “hanging on” “focussing on the horizon” “enjoying the ride” or “HELP!!!!

    Maybe I’m just averse to labelling anything anymore. Or I compulsively count my blessings. Or middle age has made me surrender to the beautiful, messy disaster that is life…..

    You just gotta ride that wave; hold on and enjoy the ride.

  7. Barb says:

    Yay, Lindsay!

    I love being middle aged! Because it has indeed made me surrender to “the beautiful, messy disaster that is life!” Thanks Lindsay!

    And, yes, sometimes clinging and screaming HELP! totally counts as ‘achieving balance’.

    Oh, the stories we could tell, eh?

  8. sandy says:

    Balance to me is a state of mind where everyone’s demands on me, my time, my energy, whatever are all equally satisfied (or not!) – then, it’s ME time!! I can spend some time with myself, doing whatever I want! When along comes some:body:thing requiring my attention, I’m out of balance again. So I’m not often balanced, but when I am, it’s a beautiful thing! 🙂

  9. sandy says:

    it’s kinda like playing “whack a mole” and you’ve managed to get ’em all… hahaha

  10. Tracy Bachellier says:

    Oh, how I love this big, nutty, amazing world around me! But sometimes, when I see others seeking answers outside of themselves…well, that’s when I try hard not to roll my eyes. Because the answers, I believe, are within. An acute awareness to the world around us, and our place in it, amongst the chaos, the mess, the triumphs, the challenges and yes, learning what to ignore and what to respond to…this I believe allows us to enter more deeply into as you call it, “balance”. Or homeostasis, inner peace, contentment or acceptance, whatever you want to call it…I think that feeling can be called many different things for many different people. But the root of it is the same…it comes from within, not outside. In this messy, dynamic and challenging world that’s whizzing by me, at this moment, I pause, I am. And I’m pretty OK with that…

    • Barb says:

      So we can agree to disagree. Or maybe we need to balance our inner and our outer workings…

      Or maybe I’m starting to talk myself in circles here. Which is a good seque to the article that Douglass has recommmended…

  11. Douglass says:

    Maybe balance isn’t a scary trip along a tightrope, but something closer to this:

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/g/a/2010/12/08/notes120810.DTL&ao=all

  12. Karen says:

    I am new to your blog and just love your post about balance. Personally that is a state that I need to have in order to survive in this confusing frustrating, wonderful world we live in. Whenever balance if off for me I feel as if I will just fall over the edge then something wonderful happens and I am back on top. Thoughts that often come to mind are “how much is enough” , sometimes it is ok to say no, when stuck on your self give some of that self away, forgiveness is huge as it can only make things better, oops this is a bit of a ramble.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  13. Barb says:

    And thanks for sharing yours, Karen! I hope you’ll visit again!

  14. Janet says:

    So many good thoughts! Wow!
    I liked what was said a few posts back about “simplicity” and “a messy life” not being mutually exclusive. I totally agree. Sometimes, I think we need to look for – or even create – the moments of simplicity amid the mess.
    A few days ago, while working away, one of my favourite songs came on in the background. I grabbed my husband, and we danced…amid the chest high boxes, packed for moving. My multiple unfinished final term projects lay on the desk to one side of us, and his unfinished website on a desk to the other side. Though it LOOKED like the world was falling down around our ears (and with a little thought, we probably would have realized that indeed it WAS), we had that one little perfect moment in the midst of chaos.
    Momentary balance? I think so!!

  15. Janet says:

    Another thought –

    Those moments of true feelings of balance are so fleeting that the big picture thinking, as suggested by many of you, is SO important!!

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