Somehow most years come with a theme for me. Where last year’s theme was healing, this year’s theme is balance. I need balance to function optimally, to live my best life. I’m guessing that’s universal. The ingredients, most likely, are universal too – nurturing foods, rest, exercise, quiet time, play time. But what these are, how these are mixed and what balance looks like for you will be very personal.
My balancing act is not juggling as many balls as possible. My challenge is walking a tightrope, putting one foot in front of the other, not swinging more than I can handle, not falling off. Some days, I’m actually balanced enough to walk some steps. Those days feel awesome, I feel like I understand the trick and I’m invincible. But most of the time, I’m doing my best to stay on the rope, regaining my balance. I am getting better at regaining my balance and then be able to walk some steps again. Sometimes, I get out of balance too much and I fall.
Balance for me is a very fine line, I don’t have much wiggling space. My brains are more sensitive to input than most people’s brains, this means that my brains need to process more input and that takes more time. When I don’t manage this process well, I get overstimulated and I don’t function well until my brains get time to process it all. I am slowly learning to live with that, and interestingly it has allowed me to learn one or two things that I would not have come up with otherwise.
There is one ingredient that helps you keep balanced more than anything, and that is compassion. Compassion not only counteracts negative momentum, it creates mental balance when you need it most. Living without compassion is like walking the high wire without safety net. Compassion is reminding ourselves of what it means to be human. It is seeing that every person carries a unique story that has shaped their views and behavior, including you. Your story is as valid as everybody else’s story and vice versa. Everyone does the best they can, including you. Your best is not only different from my best, it also is different from moment to moment, and so is mine. Beneath our story, we are one.
When I am balanced, I know this, it is easily accessible. When I’m out of balance or have fallen off the rope, knowing this takes effort, but of all the things I could do to get balanced again, compassion takes the least effort and creates the most dramatic results. When I’m out of balance, I don’t make the wisest decisions. When I fall, things are worse, and apart from feeling physically ill, I am upset with having fallen, again. It usually takes some time before I get to the place where I can say: that’s life, falling is part of life, and when you know better you do better. When I say those things to myself, I can feel my body and mind relax a bit and that feels so good that I cannot help but focus on it. And before I know it, although it doesn’t look like it, I know that I am doing the best I can at that moment, and that my best is different from moment to moment. Feeling the truth of these thoughts gives even more relief. It helps me cope with things like snapping at my daughter, it creates the space I need to help us both let go, and to do better next time. When you feel compassion towards yourself, you are forgiven upfront for your wrongdoings and you are able to love yourself for who you are, you are able to see the best of yourself and live the vision that is unfolding in your heart.
Balance is a state of mind. When your mind is balanced, body and rope move as one, there is no telling where your body ends and the rope starts. You know when to move and how to move. If you have ever seen an act on the tightrope, you may have noticed that after a risky move the artist waits before continuing. I imagine she waits for her body to merge with the rope again. Balance is created, always in the present moment. Balance is going with the flow, or rope in this case, moving with it, obeing it, trusting it. Balance is a choice that is made anew again and again and again. You cannot stockpile balance. You can create conditions that are favorable, but you cannot trick or cheat your way into it.
There is no balance without compassion, they are inseparable. Balance and compassion are one. Balance is seeing that your story is as valid as everybody else’s, that your life, however you choose to live it, is equally important. Balance for me is being at peace with not being able to do as much as I want to do, taking small steps in the direction of my dreams. And recognizing that, for me, nothing creates more imbalance than feeling resistance towards that. The thing I need to learn most is to wait for the rope and my body to merge again. I now know that I am capable of doing phenomenal things on the tightrope. And I am finally getting to the point where I see that the extent to which I allow myself to become one with the rope again defines the act I will be able to pull off. I can only muster that amount of patience when I feel compassion towards myself, when I don’t judge the parts that I don’t understand yet, when I dare to obey the rope and trust my body.
I really would love to learn from you. What does balance look like for you, how do you maintain it. What has it taught you? Please leave a comment and let me know your thoughts.
photo by Taro Taylor