Many of my clients say they want balance. To feel that are doing enough exercise, making money, moving up in their careers, minimizing arguments with their spouses, raising great kids, traveling, upkeep a colorful social circle while doing them all with grace and ease.
But what I found is that our idea of balance is both impossible and unrealistic. First of all, what is the definition of balance? Defined by Merriam-Webster; its “a state of equilibrium”. The keyword here being “state”. Not a thing or place, but a state.
When we make balance all about our inner workings, rather the outside, we will see that it is not something to chase and do, but to be. It’s a state of being. How can we access that state then? You know that place just as you figure out a joke, that split second when you got it and then you burst out laughing?
In that space of pure listening and laughter is what I call our centre. As babies we function primarily from that place, that is why you see babies and toddlers are just able to laugh and be present to whatever they do. No stress. They are not sitting there thinking, how can I hold this spoon correctly? Am I drooling too much? Am I supposed to walk on the grass or the pavement? They just are. As we grow older, we forget that place. It becomes clouded by judgements, expectations, our need to achieve and conform.
So, then as we start feeling overwhelmed, we think “Oh I need to have more balance!” You sign up at the gym, you read up on how to change your diet and research the different ways to feng shui your home to have tranquility. Even though all of them are great ways to bring positive energies to us, its important that we remember that if we don’t keep our state centered, no amount of organic tofu or feng shui ornaments will give us balance.
This state is achieved through moments of being still. You can be balanced anywhere, anytime, amidst any circumstance when you can be still, and put awareness on your thoughts and responses. I have found a few different tools that can bring me back to that centre.
Take A Breath
Breathing is the most powerful way to trigger that stillness. One of the first tools I give my clients who want clarity and stillness is the 5-4-5 breathing exercise. Inhale for five counts, hold for four counts and exhale slowly for five counts. Do three rounds every time. You’ll feel your mind clears and the weight of your situation automatically lifts.
Coloring a Mandala
Mandalas are ancient concentric diagrams that have spiritual and ritualistic significance in both Hinduism and Buddhism. They are asymmetric tools that have been proven to aid meditation and to access our unconscious self. I’ve found that coloring a mandala helps me to relax and be present in the moment.
Take time once a week to color a mandala. (You can download various beautiful mandalas off the web). Get a bunch of colored pens/crayons, light a candle or incense as you find a quiet spot to sit and color. Use this time to shut off all your worries and just focus your attention on the different colors and patterns forming as you complete filling in the mandala. You’ll find that the pure, focused time off will relax you and help you unload certain negative, unconscious thoughts. Plus, the complete work of art will look fantastic up on your wall!
Sitting Quietly in Nature
We often take for granted the healing aspects of being with nature. Hundreds of studies have proven that being with nature helps us as human beings to release stress and anxiety.
A recent clinical study established that a view of nature, even through a window, speeds recovery from surgery, improves work performance, and increases job satisfaction. Create a daily commitment to engage 20-30 minutes with nature by taking a walk at your nearby park, sitting on a bench near the lake or just working in your garden. These moments of connection will not only improve your health but heighten your awareness and creativity.
Balance is in us. It always has been, we just need to stop and give ourselves the time and space to discover it.
If you feel overwhelmed, tired and feel its time to re-prioritize your life, try one these techniques to add internal balance to your day. Or if you have another method that helps you see clearly and regain your balance when you feel like you’ve wobbled off path, share it below.