Being Breath

stories from the wilderness of everyday life

Unbalanced? Try This.

I'm sure you've heard about it, read about it, and probably attempted it:

The ever-elusive "Balance of Life".

That perfect way of being where home, health, social, financial, and spiritual matters are all in alignment, each receiving the perfectly sized slice of your time-pie. 

It sounds so pretty and desirable and makes beautiful illustrations on web pages and books.

But I think the whole idea of Balance is crap.

This is what I think it does to us:

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Some of us freeze. We stay in one place, one job, one relationship - not because we want to, but because we are afraid. We are terrified of what might happen if we move.

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Some of us flip out. We frantically run - from job to job, spiritual teaching to spiritual teaching, hobby to hobby - trying to just stay on TOP of it all. But just as we start feeling we are on an uphill, the board starts to shift and we have to run in a different way. It never stops.

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Some of us choose to give up -- being too depressed or overwhelmed to do anything about it all. We aren't frozen, we're collapsed. Zippo vitality. There might be a bit of anger, wildly addictive behaviors, or emotional swings popping up from time to time, but that repeated collapse at the end of the night, the week, the year - is inevitable.

Some of us are just trying to hang on. We ride the board o' balance up and down, taking the job that we need, making ends meet, caring ... just having no idea about what to do about it. Up and down...

It makes me think of that card game. That one where someone tells you they have something in their hand, and you either believe it, or call them on it? I want to call us out: bullshit! You don't have balance and you never did.

And oh, as we play the balance game, the judgments that ensue....

Behind closed doors (or sometimes in public forums), we judge one another for competing in the rat race or for dropping out of it, for paying too much time to our children or too little, for doing too little for the environment or being too fanatic about it, for having too much stuff or too much time on one's hands,  ...

And the worst consequence? We end up judging our self. It is a consequence of living in this illusion of balance. There is an up, a down, and an even - a "right" and a "wrong". We stress, we freeze, we collapse, or hang on for dear life.

Instead,

I invite us to dance.

I invite us to create.

I invite us to play.

I invite us to be curious instead of definitive, open instead of certain, gentle instead of judgmental.

Start where you are. If you are frozen, can you move - do one thing that goes outside of your comfort zone? If you are running from meeting to meeting and fueled by coffee, can you pause for several times throughout the day? If you are collapsed, can you stand and stretch? If you are hanging on, can you let go and see what happens?

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Try a cartwheel. (If your body isn't as agile as it used to be, try a metaphorical cartwheel.) What if you called in sick to work and went to a park to swing? What if you pulled your child out of school for just ONE day and went to get ice cream and watch a movie? What if you did absolutely nothing all day on Saturday but sit and stare out your window (with the occasional potty break)?

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Try finding someone else who is ready to play. Discuss "balance", what it has meant to you...and what you WANT it to mean. Take turns and play nice - no judgments.

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Or go ahead and create together. Agree to play a game that night instead of replying to emails, or paint instead of watch t.v., or spend one hour looking for alternatives to your current job ... and hold your creative partner to it. Create your fort of possibility and don't leave until you've made something you can take with you.

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Try meditation. You don't have to get fancy - just jump off that balance board and sit with what is. (Leave the guilt baggage in the other room.) Sit on the couch, a log outside, or a meditation cushion. Just observe.

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Try something completely different. There are hundreds of examples of people living lives in non-traditional, way-off-of-the-balance-board ways. Start small and start here: You might play with changing the paint color in your bedroom before quitting your job, or you might just start with a shift in perspective. How do you already have abundance in that slice of pie? How can 5 minutes with your child after you arrive home late at night be fully of memory-making quality? How might you find spiritual abundance in processing through your email inbox? Just. Play.

Trying to find balance in all of this is not allowed. You are simply to explore, to be curious, to engage with your unbalanced life, as it is.

You can freeze, freak-out, collapse or hang-on ... or you can dance, play, create, and wonder.

What will you choose...

Namaste.