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  • Writer's pictureReflective Resources

B is for Balance

Updated: Jan 6, 2023

"A balanced inner calmness radiates from a peaceful centre. It neither craves others' approval nor rejects others' presence. It neither pulls towards nor pushes away. It has a reverent attitude towards life and all its inhabitants.” Donna Goddard

Achieving balance is important in all stages of our life. A balanced life is a process of perpetual learning: intellectually, physically and socially, but needing to balance this with assimilating and accomodating and just being present in the moment. Rather than seek to find new ways to become more efficient and do more, we need to conscientiously programme in moments of down-time to allow us the balance to just be.

"The more often you decline invitations to spend time with friends or family because you are too busy with either work or other activities, the more you should realize that your life is not in balance." Byron Pulsifer

The term ‘Homeostasis’ was first defined by the French physiologist, Claude Bernard, in 1865. Everybody is entitled to homeostasis so life can work its ‘magic’. The idea of homeostasis originates with the Greek concepts of balance, harmony, equilibrium, and steady-state, all of them fundamental attributes of life and health. If you want that principle to be applied to you then you must apply it in order to have balance.

Chinese philosophy calls this vital energy qi and describes it as the body’s innate intelligence — the intangible yet measurable way we maintain what’s known as homeostasis, or the body’s ability to regulate its internal environment to create good health” Jill Blakeway.

The balance and flow of this life energy or qi in the body depends on the environment and what happens to the body. It is the imbalances and interruptions of this flowing force that are thought to be responsible for most human ailments whether physical, mental, or emotional.

The core belief of Traditional Chinese Medecine (中医, zhōng yī, /jong ee/) is about the yin-yang (阴阳, yīnyáng) or qi balance in the body and its organs. Everything is a balance of yin and yang.

Yin and yang do not exist outside of each other, but rather, that they reside within each other and are interdependent. Form (yin) needs a function (yang).The aim is to keep them in proper balance and it is this balance that defines and creates good health and emotions.

Balance is not something you find, it’s something you create.” Jana Kingsford

While it’s never a bad thing to seek different ways to improve oneself, this must be done with a careful eye on balance. We don’t need to “fix” ourselves before we are acceptable to ourselves or anyone else; we are worthy just as we are. We all have the capacity to improve ourselves but in order to do so effectively we need to know ourselves and know when we are not being honest with ourselves.

We are all imperfect; some of our imperfections are part of who we are but other aspects can be unlearned and stand in the way of us becoming a better version of ourselves. It is a delicate balance that requires self- knowledge to acknowledge and discern the difference between the positive and negative aspects of our character and to make continual progress whilst having the courage to apply the things we learn. When we tell the truth we use our mind creatively “as an artist rather than as a victim” Brad Blanton

Wisdom is your perspective on life, your sense of balance, your understanding of how the various parts and principles apply and relate to each other.” Steven R. Covey

When we work on our self-awareness , we develop our intuitive skills and can gain the confidence in using intuition to make some decisions more quickly and easily.

“Come from the heart, the true heart, not the head. When in doubt, choose the heart. This does not mean to deny your own experiences and that which you have empirically learned through the years. It means to trust your self to integrate intuition and experience. There is a balance, a harmony to be nurtured, between the head and the heart. When the intuition rings clear and true, loving impulses are favoured.” Brian Weiss

A balanced life, will be different for everyone so it is important to first define what a well-balanced life means for you and then make decisions and take actions that move you towards your definition.

"We have overstretched our personal boundaries and forgotten that true happiness comes from living an authentic life fueled with a sense of purpose and balance." Dr. Kathleen Hall

When we live with a balance between growth and embracing the present moment, it is important to remember that the people that make up our social circle and influence our lives, be it family or friends, will reflect, resonate and subconsciously (or even consciously) influence our choices and sense of self worth so it is important to choose the people that surround us wisely.

“Problems arise in that one has to find a balance between what people need from you and what you need for yourself.” Jessye Norman

Making time to nurture relationships with others is as important as making time for yourself, but boundaries and balance are just as important here too. Connection and social interaction are important but you also need ‘me-time’ to unwind and to be by yourself. It is not simply a case of spending every waking moment with someone, in fact decreasing the amount of mindless time spent together can help increase the quality of mindful time you do spend together.

Let there be spaces in your togetherness, And let the winds of the heavens dance between you. Love one another but make not a bond of love: Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls. Fill each other's cup but drink not from one cup. Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf. Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone, Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music. Give your hearts, but not into each other's keeping. For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts. And stand together, yet not too near together: For the pillars of the temple stand apart, And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other's shadow.

The above is one of my favourite quotes on this subject from a book entitled ‘The Prophet’ by Khalil Gibran

"Balance isn’t fitting everything in. It’s starting with what is important and letting the rest fall as it will" Erica Layne

Balance is about prioritising; it doesn’t mean trying to do everything you can think of that you want to. It means living consciously and purposefully according to your values.

"Be aware of wonder. Live a balanced life - learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some." Robert Fulgham

Self-care is often the first thing that falls by the wayside when life starts becoming unbalanced. Your mental health and physical health are extremely important for maintaining a life balance. It’s all too easy to say “yes” to too many things or to insist in cramming too much into our day and before we know it we’re quickly descending into a downwards spiral feeling tired, stressed, and overwhelmed. We need to take care of both our mind and our bodies to live a balanced life.

Affirmations are our mental vitamins, providing the supplementary positive thoughts we need to balance the barrage of negative events and thoughts we experience daily” (Tia Walker) but our bodies also need vitamins from the food we eat to function and maintain optimal health.

Balance starts from the centre (you) outwards so self love is a good place to start. Self love is all about balance and being in alignment with yourself; your thoughts, emotions, and opinions without judging yourself. It is accepting who you are and how you are i.e. aiming to live a congruent life. By loving ourselves we will become the best version of ourselves, not only benefiting ourselves per se, but benefiting others too and making the world a better place for everyone.

"The problem is that technology has become an extra limb for some of us. It's important to utilize this technology, but at the same time it’s important to know when to take a break from it." Alex Broches

People always complain about the pace of ‘modern life’ but recent technology has really accelerated the problem. The modern emphasis on speed affects our nutrition, health, sleep, work and relationships, so we need to relearn how to relate to time so we don’t become its servant and watch our life disappears before our eyes.

In Praise of Slow’ is written by Carl Honoré and a great place to start thinking about why we are in such a hurry all the time. In the book we ‘meet’ people who have decided to do something about finding a healthy balance and the right speed for everything.

We flourish when we cultivate our talents and strengths, develop deep and meaningful relationships, feel pleasure and enjoyment, and make a meaningful contribution to the world. We flourish when we find fulfilment in life along with achieving more traditional objectives related to success when we are truly living the “good life”.Martin Seligman

Flourishing resides on a continuum, it might not always be easy but everyone can live a balanced life and flourish with effort and contribute to a greater sense of their own well- being.

He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.” Friedrich Nietzsche

It is possible to be diagnosed with mental health difficulties, for example, but still flourish, and conversely it is possible to be diagnosis-free but still languish.

“…even if we could find a cure for mental illness tomorrow, it does not mean that most people would necessarily be flourishing in life. In other words, we cannot treat our way out of the problem of mental illness; we must also promote a life of balance in which people can achieve happiness and realize lives in which they can flourish.” Corey Keyes

We live in a very busy world where we are bombarded with constant distractions 24/7. Staying active is a good thing, but like everything we need to find a balance and be the 'right kind of busy' because we can have ‘too much of a good thing’. It is important to deliberately create moments of ‘down-time’ into our lives so we can assimilate everything and give ourselves the best chance of consistently perform at maximum potential. It is also important to have the right type of busyness in order to maintain a healthy brain and to help protect our brain from future deterioration.

You cannot afford to wait for perfect conditions. Goal setting is often a matter of balancing timing against available resources. Opportunities are easily lost while waiting for perfect conditions.” Gary Ryan Blair

We need not be thrown off balance by the changing nature of emotions and events. Cognitive defusion involves creating space between ourselves and our thoughts/ and feelings so that they have less of a hold over us and we are not ‘fused’ or ‘entangled’ blindly accepting them as reality. By creating space it gives us time to think and reflect on whether the choice before us is going to lead us closer to or further away from our goals and enables us to realise that just because we think something it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s true and if we are presented with a choice we don’t need to react immediately but can take time to consider whether it is important or helpful.

There are three masks: the one we think we are, the one we really are, and the one we have in common” Jacques Lecoq

The mask we have in common is also described as our neutral mask.

The neutral mask is a learning tool for actors — to help them develop emotional honesty and economy of movement, and to give them an inner core that is balanced, centred and focused while they express powerful, authentic emotions on stage.”

In wearing the neutral mask, we are able to drop the mask of who we think we should be, and get in touch with who we already are.

Neutral is holding the centre” — moving with grace, dignity, power, and direction in times of rapid change and crisis.” Jacques Lecoq

It is easy to fall into the trap of putting on masks for different roles but this leads to a dissonance and unbalance in our life.

"The consistency in your person from home to work is vitally important so that you are in total balance at all times. Being out of balance means that your true self will start to be confused with what you pretend to be." Catherine Pulsifer

I often reflect on how I can balance learning about all sorts of the interesting information and actually incorporating the things I’m learning about practically. Creating the Reflective Resources website and Facebook Group page, are two ideas that stemmed from these musings. There are lots of advantages of sharing what you learn about with others; it can provide you with an opportunity to clarify your thinking through discussion and it can potentially introduce others to new ideas, skills or elements of awe and wonder etc too

So how do we move towards a greater sense of balance in our lives? The best way to find balance is to start by making small, manageable changes. Simply being aware of the importance of balance will change our perspective and will open up our mind to new solutions when life starts to feel unbalanced. By practising Kaizen, we can improve all dimensions of our quality of life; not only our physical but our psychological- behavioural dimensions too.

Everyone has their own journey to take at their own pace. Living a balanced life doesn’t happen overnight, but each little change we make is a step in the right direction. If we slip up and take the wrong path, it isn’t a disaster, it is part of the learning process, we simply need to continue on our journey, hopefully a little bit wiser and more focused.

Balance, peace, and joy are the fruit of a successful life. It starts with recognizing your talents and finding ways to serve others by using them”.Thomas Kinkade

When we build communities with intention, acceptance and understanding it will help connect us in meaningful ways, and will help redress the balance of the worrying trend in societal norms based on fear and mis-information leading to mis-guided attitudes towards ‘others’ and this ‘them’ and ‘us’ attitude.

It is important to incorporate both external and internal change consistently into our lives. We can work to help others but we need to work on ourselves too.

Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony.”

Thomas Merton

Living a balanced life is about living with our head in the clouds but our feet on the ground.

Some questions to think about/or discuss below:

What areas of your life do you feel are out of balance ?

What do you need to do or who can help you redress the balance ?

Have you learnt any useful practical strategies for creating a balanced life that you can share with others ?

If you want to reflect more on this subject, here are some links to get you started:

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