“Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony.” ~Thomas Merton
Balance is everything and is really what we are striving to find in life. Balancing work and play. Balancing food and exercise. Balancing a social life and solitude. Balancing being and doing. Finding balance is finding freedom.
Once I was truly able to comprehend this it was a game changer on my healing journey. Any suffering you experience in life can be attributed to a lack of balance.
What is balance? The ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu speaks of The Dao, which means “the way.” It is essentially the balance of the yin and yang energies. The masculine and the feminine. The dark and the light.
Everything has two extremes, and the Dao lies in the middle. It is where there is no energy pushing in either direction. It is where harmony lies. The only thing we are doing wrong in life is doing too much of one thing and not enough of something else. It takes all your energy to do the extremes.
“The inefficiency of your actions is determined by how many degrees off center you are. You will be that much less able to use your energy for living life because you are using it to adjust to the pendulum swings.” ~Michael Singer
Balance. That’s it. That is the key.
Food, exercise, and relationships are core areas where I have spent many years living off balanced. You may be able to relate.
Food. I’ve wasted an incredible amount of energy with my pendulum falling to the extremes when it comes to food. What to eat, when to eat, how much to eat… all comes back to balance.
I spent years swinging to the extremes of excess or deprivation. Overeating and binging to starving and fasting. Eating a sh*t ton one day to eating nothing the next. Eating too much junk food to only eating healthy food. Neither of which are necessary.
I wasted an exorbitant amount of energy living in these extremes.
When I was overeating, my body was having to spend all its energy digesting large amounts of unnecessary food, robbing me of precious energy I could have used elsewhere like developing a passion and connecting deeper with others, which I came to realize were the underlying reasons as to why I was overeating. I was off balance with my personal connections and was using food as a replacement for the nourishment and love I really needed from other humans.
Remember that every single thing we do takes energy, and we only have so many energy units in a day, so it’s imperative to become conscious of where you are using up energy in order to make sure you are using it wisely.
Another predominant area that I found myself living purely in the extremes was with exercise. Unlike food, where I consciously knew that eating too much and starving myself wasn’t good for me or what I needed, it remained unconscious for quite some time that too much exercise is most definitely a thing.
I spend many years chronically exercising with extreme HIIT workouts, running, intense vinyasa yoga classes, and weight training. The endorphin rushes I got post-workout felt too good to be bad for me, plus we are told again and again how important exercise is, so I sincerely didn’t see anything wrong with my relationship to exercise. However, I lived in a state of complete exhaustion unconsciously, not realizing the balance needed between exercise and rest.
If you are doing extreme workouts, you must also create space for recovery.
I was holding onto an extreme amount of stress in my body due to this lack of balance, which impacted my sleep. It took me many years to become conscious of this habit and realize that me not sleeping was directly correlated to me overexercising. I was addicted to exercise without realizing it.
Once I stopped working out six days a week and started incorporating gentler exercises like yin yoga and walking instead of running, my body was able to let go of the chronic stress hormones it was addicted to, and I was finally able to find rest.
So yes, exercise is a good thing, but you can definitely overdo it. Many people live in the other extreme of never exercising, which is equally as unhealthy and depleting of your energy. Balance, it’s all about balance.
The last predominant area where balance is essential is in our relationships.
Are you spending too much time with your boyfriend and not enough time with friends? Or maybe you have too many surface friendships and not enough deep connections with the same people. Maybe you don’t have enough relationships at all and it’s keeping you in a state of chronic loneliness. Or living in the other extreme and don’t have enough alone time to recollect your energy, as solitude is also essential to our health.
Furthermore, you can lack balance inside relationships themselves. Too much sex, not enough sex. Too much giving, not enough receiving. Too much talking, not enough communication… Where do you lack balance in your relationships?
The examples of where you can be off center can be applied to every single area of your life, the list is endless. Not spending enough time in nature vs. spending too much time in the sunshine and getting sun damage. Not spending enough time engaging in self-care vs. obsessing about self-care and not using your energy elsewhere. Not taking enough time off from work to relax and enjoy life vs. not working at all and giving back to humanity in some way, which leads to a lack of fulfilment and purpose in life.
The tricky thing about balance is that it differs for everyone. There is no exact formula that everyone must follow in order to find the balance they need. It’s really just about tuning into your body and listening to what needs aren’t being met in your life and where you are hurting yourself by engaging in an extreme.
So stop and ask yourself: Where in my life do I lack balance? How can I create more balance in order to find a place of beautiful harmony and flow in my life?
Confucius said that balance feels like the perfect state of still water. Let’s settle our water and find a level of deep peace and contentment that will naturally arise as a result.