When was the last time you felt caught up? You still had things to do—things you were really looking forward to—but none of them were pressing or overdue. You had time to fully inhabit the moment and to breathe deeply.
Balance is not a constant state of being, but something we do as we continually adjust our thoughts and actions to the flow of life. Imagine a surfer who makes myriad calculations and adjustments instantly as she successfully masters riding a wave. The thrill is learning to work with the energy, read the water, and combine both with personal awareness and skills. By balance, we are not talking about your fuddy–duddy (yawn) when–does–the–movie–start existence. (That's numbness, stagnation, or pre–death.) We are talking about the dynamic balancing act that has us deeply engaging with the ever-changing world and ourselves.
To find balance it is helpful to consider some of the reasons we may feel out of balance:
How many times have we come back from a vacation and said, "I want more of this in my life!" Valuing the feeling of balance as well as what balance makes possible can lead us to set it as a priority in our daily lives. Balance can bring out our best and enable us to think and act from our highest self. We can more easily access our clarity, compassion, wisdom, integrity, and creativity. Personally, while we enjoy the feeling of balance, what really excites us is how it affords us the opportunity for innovation. We love making stuff up (can you tell?), and we are free to ride the wave of our creativity when we feel in balance.
For each of us, how we find balance and what that brings us will be different. Generally, self awareness and good life design can help us overcome the sources of imbalance and bring in more balancing activities and attitudes. (By design we mean "the arrangement of things for a purpose." For more see Embracing Your Inner Slow Life Designer.) Obviously this type of awareness and design encompasses many things, but if we were to boil it down to two things for an 800 word essay we would say: 1) start by de–cluttering all areas of your life to the most essential elements you absolutely love and need; and 2) find physical, mental, and spiritual practices that help you find balance and then practice, practice, practice.
You can't surf with a lifetime of unsorted baggage strapped to your board. And given the waves, especially in these uncertain and interesting times, we need all the practice we can get! Despite the inevitable tumbles and wipe outs, the investment is well worth it to experience the exhilaration and power of finding balance on the cutting edge.
What do you think are the greatest sources of imbalance for you in terms of self awareness, environment, priorities, and unrealistic expectations? What do you think you would gain by feeling more balanced? What activities or practices help you to find balance?
Since all our regular readers have de–cluttered their entire lives already ;-), take some time to focus on practice. Pick a week in which you will practice at least one balancing activity every day (e.g. yoga, running, meditation, reading, singing, talking with loved ones, cooking, eating consciously, art, chores, etc.). Schedule it into your day, and do it religiously for one week. What do you notice?
Your fellow surfers,
Beth and Eric
This monthly slow essay is from Beth Meredith & Eric Storm of Create The Good Life.
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