Right now I’m focusing on finding balance in my life. Yoga teaches balance: finding your breath to find balance. The Tao preaches balance: the second principle is dynamic balance, think yin and yang.
But what if my intense focus on finding balance is… unbalanced?
Sometimes I feel as though I am fighting so hard to find balance, I am attacking it with every thought I have. The search for balance is more like a frantic child crying for a second cookie than a calm, even approach towards life.
I sip tea in the afternoon and practice meditation, trying to find calmness in a busy day. I spend my mornings reading spiritual articles and practicing my crow. When I’m upset I try to use cleansing breathes, to calm myself down.
I spend so much time working at being calm and balanced I fear I’m not actually very calm, or balanced.
So how do I balance my search for balance with authenticity? And if I let go of my search for balance for a little while, will I ever find it? Can I find balance naturally, by allowing it to become a part of my life without frantically chasing it?
Learning to find balance in my search for balance is a struggle. I am a woman of extremes, like most women I think. When I find a hobby I love, I throw every waking moment into it. When I discovered yoga, all of a sudden my phone’s background was a yoga quote, my wardrobe became overthrown by yoga pants, and I began ending emails with “Om Shanti”. I didn’t merely stretch in the mornings, I swan dove down, then rose with a flat back half way, then jumped back to plank and lowered into a low cobra.
So when I first began to try to find more balance in my life, I didn’t merely begin accepting things as they come and letting things go with the mental calmness of a monk. I overanalyzed my daily routines, tried to find areas I should relax in or maybe give more energy to. Am I eating enough organic? I should be more disciplined in buying organic salad greens. On that note, I should also be more disciplined in eating a salad every day. And I should be less focused on yoga. Looking up yoga inspirational photos on my lunch breaks is too much.
I decided I needed to walk the dog more, watch online tv less, focus more on brushing my teeth, and spend less money on lattes. I should also meditate everyday, and drink more green tea and less coffee. When situations were stressful, instead of getting stressed and upset, I should be calm and cool. I should be introspective and spiritual, able to rise above the worldly stresses and “mind over matter it”.
The problem was, the more “balanced” I was becoming, the more chaotic I felt. I was getting stressed over not being stressed; I was wound as tightly as a yo-yo, ready to unravel at any minute. I knew this wasn’t the goal. I didn’t feel blissful as I calmly went through my day, and I knew I needed to re-evaluate my plan for becoming balanced.
Somehow I needed to find a way to stop the madness and hit the reset button. I began reading instructions for meditation, since my over-active mind makes it difficult to actually sit still and think of nothing. I noticed a theme that seemed profound to me: instead of trying not to think, merely acknowledge thoughts as they come and then let them go. Surprisingly, this worked. It worked in meditation, it began to work in yoga when instead of breathing into triangle I was menatlly writing a grocery list, and it started to work when I got mad at people.
The next time my husband and I had a disagreement, instead of letting the anger build and turn into resentment, I acknowledged my feelings. I didn’t try to diffuse them with love or rise above them in a peacefully blissful state of understanding. I accepted my feelings and allowed myself to feel them; knowing they were validated and I had the right to experience them. Then, I simply let them go. Well, it wasn’t as easy right out of the gate, but I began to work on the letting go part.
I began to realize balance isn’t simply a state of tranquil bliss all the time. Balance means good and bad, but not too much of both. In my search for balance, I had tried to swing too far into the good zone. But true balance is learning to deal with both sides without allowing it to overrule your life. Trying to live solely in the positive side of life can also be unhealthy.
Learning to let go after fully feeling an emotion turned out to be so much easier then trying to ignore the emotions all along. I simply allow the emotion to come, then acknowledge I have done all I can do in the situation, and let it go. Through learning to balance my search for balance, I have also been able to more fully accept who I am. Instead of trying to tame the wild parts of myself, by pretending to be calm when everyone knows I’m an energetic, sometimes wildly emotional person, I learn to embrace the wildness, then let it go.
After all, balance is about living with the good and the bad, not just simply the good.