I can’t believe I’ve written fifty posts within the “musings” section of my blog and not written about balance. Maybe it’s because I didn’t feel the need. Maybe I needed to have more balance in my life before doing so. Or maybe I just didn’t think about it until now.
It’s Popular, This Balance Idea
The idea of balance is very popular these days. We live busy lives and it seems to be what we all want more of—a balance in our personal and professional lives. There’s articles, television shows, blogs, books and everything in between that tell how we can achieve it. The very nature of what defines balance is, well, kind of like perfection—if we ever do “get there,” you can be certain, it’s not going to be for very long. Like perfection, it’s an allusion.
Balance: To keep or put (something) in a steady position so that it does not fall and this: An even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady.
Nothing can stay the same, stable, upright. Life is messy, fluid, ever-changing. Just when we think we’ve got a handle on everything and we’re humming along, something comes along that makes us stumble, slip or fall until we can get back up and find our balance again.
I believe in striving toward balance but each of us has a definition of exactly what that is, what it means, how it feels. It’s as individual as a fingerprint.
So, I’ve learned if I try to ascribe to some perfect, zen-like definition of balance, I’m just going to end up feeling as if there’s something wrong with me because I’m not one of those who can sit in calm serenity for hours.
I read Eat, Pray, Love soon after the book came out. Remember the passages about her sitting in silence and not moving for hours—finding that perfect balance—that stillness? Really??
I went to about thirty classes of Bikram Yoga (that sweaty kind) a few years ago before I gave it up. All I ever felt was dread (before I went), dizzy and hot (while trying to twist my slippery body into unnatural poses) and really pissed off afterwards because I was SO hot and could NEVER get to that state the instructor kept assuring me (in a quiet singsong voice) I would if I would just REE-lease, REE-lax.
That obviously wasn’t going to be where I found my balance. But others did and they seem so serene.
What was I missing?
Life is One Big Balancing Act
Maybe all this balancing stuff is just about finding moments where you feel your balance. Being grateful. Handling tough situations with grace and wisdom when they happen along, as they always do, throughout life.
To me, balance is not getting overly upset about the small stuff. It’s accepting the fact that some times my professional and/or personal life is going have some way ups and some way downs.
Sometimes it can feel as if I’m walking on a tightrope – one wrong move and uh-oh, I got to start all over again. Other times it’s a simple act of balancing, like walking with a book on my head. If the book falls off, I just pick it up and get on with things.
The next time I watch some program that makes me feel as if I don’t have this balancing thing down or I read some book about how I have to do this or that to achieve it, I’m just going to send these people a psychic hug or a quiet wish of lighten up, we’re all the same here. Balancing this and that. Getting it right and getting it wrong.
In the meantime, in those moments when I decide YES, I’m going to have that perfect dessert and feel that ahh-hh, so good. That’s my balance. Or when I exercise and feel that adrenaline rush instead of dread or pain, that’s my balance.
Or drink a cup of incredible coffee in the morning before I begin worrying or scurrying, that’s my balance.
But seriously, I am going to try the Yoga thing again, but without all that sweat.
Happy Monday everyone. How do you define balance?
Loved this Monday Musing, Brigitte! My definition of balance very closely resembles yours. One moment at a time, and it differs from moment to moment. I agree with you: one can take anything too seriously, including striving for balance, and to take the metaphor further – it’s much easier to balance something light, than something heavy.
I did Bikram Yoga for a couple of years and I actually enjoyed it, but quit, mainly because of the time commitment. That balance thing, again! But even with Bikram, I found that my physical balance changed from day-to-day. The balance poses were the toughest and some days I could nail them and others I was falling all over the place.
Thanks, Cathy. It does differ from moment to moment and it differs from when you’re 30, 40, 50 and beyond. And I agree with your metaphor and get it. I never could get past the sweating thing. It seemed unnecessary to me, but again, that was my experience. And I’ve finally learned that if something doesn’t work for me, that’s okay too. And that nailing the poses one day and then another–not–I think we’re all like that. Sometimes we eat the bear and sometimes the bear eats us, I’m all about the metaphors, in case you didn’t know that already.
Great topic. I write for a monthly magazine in my town, and the theme for January was balance.
Your sentence, “The very nature of what defines balance is, well, kind of like perfection—if we ever do “get there,” you can be certain, it’s not going to be for very long. Like perfection, it’s an allusion,” really spoke to me.
My January article was about finding balance as a parent of two children, and I wrote about never really finding it this year. I said, “I have learned that my pendulum swings back and forth with every new stage. Sure, I have found the sweet spot in the middle where I happily and confidently rest on occasion, but my equilibrium never stays that way for too long.”
Kind of the same thing as you were saying, right? I enjoyed the rest of your article. Great points.
Hope you found a yoga class that suits you, even if you only feel your balance for a few moments.
Hi Britta–so great to see you and Happy New Year. How wonderful you write for a monthly magazine in your town. And you’ve summed it up beautifully here–what I was trying to convey. Yep, I’m going to try Yoga again but one where the temperature isn’t humid and 100 degrees! Thanks, Britta.
I finally found a class that is more about stretching and meditation than positions, twisting and straining. I’m going back tomorrow before traveling. I am hoping to take my zen along with me….
This year I am going to schedule exercise and breaks. I have a tendency to sit on my computer all day!!!!
Susie, now that sounds wonderful. I did a meditation (via computer) for a time and I really enjoyed it. It was only 20 minutes long but it does do something to you–mind, body, spirit and you know as well as me, when one’s out of whack, they all are. I’m with you. I’ve found that if I display what I do (exercise-wise) on this giant chalkboard I have, I tend to stick with it. Maybe because it’s so visible. Happy New Year, Susie!
Happy New Year to you!
This really spoke to me–especially when you said we are all here getting it right and getting it wrong–that is where balance comes in I guess–recognizing it is a fluid thing that has to be fed–right now I am off balance a bit physically and I need to slow down, catch my breath, and catch myself before I fall again
Hi Lou, I’m glad. I think you and I are on the same page about many things. I know what you mean and I hope you’ll take the time to slow down. You deserve it. Treat yourself and don’t fall! xxoo
Currently I find it in making it through the day and not finding that same day on repeat in my head when I go to bed. Then, I know everything worked out and I can rest. Does that make sense?
It makes PERFECT sense, Addie. I do that too. I’ve had a more than a few nights of not so great sleep and it’s that very thing–replaying in my head about things. It doesn’t even have to be anything major, it’s the not being able to turn it off. Maybe it’s a woman thing because I hear the same from many women. Does this hormonal thing EVER stop? I don’t think so. Thanks, Addie and here’s to some restful nights — for the both of us.
Mmm balance has something to do with perception as well, no? I would rather be the lady balancing under the biker because I think I would have more control over keep us both “straight”.. That being said I am so all over the place, I don’t think I could balance that book on my head and parade around.. running loose and off kilter :0)
Slightly imbalanced keeps up on our toes and life interesting, as long as it is the lighter version not the heavy stuff like Cathy said.
your rambling babbling friend.. very unfettered indeed but oh so happy to see in my reader on this melancholy monday
It does indeed, my wise friend. You’re like my little Yoda at times, A. We both perceived that pic very differently. The one on the bottom appears to be way more relaxed while the one on top IS doing all the hard work really. You’re more zen than you realize. (smile) I like your ramble and babble. On a side note note, hubby and I went to the museum downtown (the only one here) and lo and behold there was an Edward Hopper painting and I thought of you. I took a pic of it and with display it soon. Happy to see you here as always–stay warm!!
Super coolio on the Hopper. Funny oh our ” blogging” gets connected in our everyday life. It’s nice… Comforting to me.
The lady on the bottom as to keep her body perfectly taut and straight to maintain the bikes balance or she’ll pull them both down. Really, it’s a team effort.. As you say balancing each other oh wise one.
You’re super coolio.
This is so weird!! I started writing a blog post over the break and guess what it’s all about? BALANCE! If I had more balance in my life, I probably would have published it already! Hahaha… As usual, we’re totally on the same page. I agree that balance means something different for everyone — but for me, it means finding the time to do all the things that make me feel whole and fulfilled. When I’m chronically unhappy about a situation, it usually means I’ve got some adjusting to do, i.e. finding better balance. So happy to read your post — it definitely helped balance out my morning. 😛 Happy Monday, my friend! xoxo
Well maybe you should finish that post! ha! You get me, Carly–you always have. And yeah, you know things are out of whack when you feel that general feeling of malaise–boredom–whatever it is! We fling the expression out: Life’s too short, etc. alot (we in the general sense) but it’s really so true. I’m glad it helped, my friend. Your email helped me and I will answer it! xxoo
A fun musing, Brigitte! Balance definitely is in the details, the small everyday choices. When I feel that uncomfortable pressure in my chest or stomach, I know stress is displaying physically. I stop what I’m doing as soon as practical and do something small, complete, and meditative–like make a cup of tea and actively dip the tea bag in the water for a minute focusing on nothing else but what I’m doing. Or, I’ll step outside, look up to the sky and simply breathe in deeply and remind myself how lucky I am to be alive. If I need something more, I seek out something in nature to focus my attention on–like the details of a sprouting bud on a tree branch or the activity of a tiny ant on the ground. I’m sure this all sounds nuts if a person doesn’t normally do these things, but the point is to bring it all down to something simple. Life and the world gets too complicated; simple is the antidote.
Happy New Year, girl!
Hi Sue, I feel it in my chest and stomach — it’s weird you say that. Of course then I begin imaging it’s something horrible which makes it worse. Maybe when we feel that our chi is blocked! And you do NOT sounds nuts at all. What you’re writing about here makes perfect sense. It really is simple — happiness — we just make it complicated sometimes. Happy New Year to you — I hope you and yours are wonderful.
This is why I don’t do yoga (or any exercise) in a class. I do it in the privacy of my home – where I can hold a pose as long or as far as I damn well please. 🙂 I can find that balance, or I can laugh out loud when I tumble over.
You’re so right. The best balance is found in lightening up about finding balance.
Ha! Anita — hey, Happy New Year. I keep meaning to check out a DVD at the library. I do remember most of the poses. That’s a good idea. Hope your life is balanced, happy and well.
Happy Monday, Brigitte! I’m sure I do not have balance. It would probably help if I spent a little more time with my husband. Kids usually take over. It’s a tough one, but like you, I will continue to strive for it.
Happy Monday back at you, Amy. It gets out of whack quickly doesn’t it? Maybe it’s about settling down and taking it one thing at a time. I’m one of those multi-tasker people and I don’t think it’s always a good thing. Thanks Amy. Great to see you here.
I could never do yoga in that heat either. I do a yoga DVD once or twice a week but only because it’s good for my flexibility and physical balance, not because I find psychological balance or serenity in it. Far from it. The practice bores me to tears. I suppose it’s no surprise I prefer the ones that keep moving and put the emphasis on flexibility rather than emptying the mind and finding peace. I respect those that take yoga to that higher level. I’m just not one of them. 🙂
Carrie, it sucked. It’s similar to people who go to the desert and sit in tents in the heat. I don’t get it. I don’t think one has to get hot and dizzy to be enlightened but that’s just me. I hate sitting in a lawn chair in the sun so why I ever thought I’d like sweaty Yoga I don’t know. That’s probably why I try yoga, then drop it. It’s very slow and it does get boring. Walking rapidly on a treadmill is too but at least I can take my iPad and read! And that flexibility thing is very important. Maybe I should approach it your way and stop waiting for that perfect zen thing to happen. I think the whole point of zen is to just let it be…let it happen…
Thanks, Carrie and Happy New Year.
I feel more zen when I’m in the middle of a great cardio workout. I’m in the moment, not like during yoga when my mind wanders. Guess it’s my Type-A-ness. 🙂
I hear ya, Sister!
Sent from Brigitte’s iPad
Hey Brigitte ♥
I think trying to live up to someone else’s idea of how to achieve balance in our lives is like reading about someone else’s ideas on how to bring up your children – disappointing and mostly useless with an occasional insight :). As for bikram yoga – I’ve never done it, but it sounds torturous. Doing yoga in the middle of a hot Australian summer is enough, and I sure as hell don’t do it when it’s stinking hot in the middle of the day!
Hi Sara, how are you? Great to see you here. It was tortuous–that hot yoga. I prefer to exercise in the a/c. Ha! Hope you and yours are great and your New Year is filled with all good things.
I doubt that I have ever written out a series of goals without including balance, Brigitte– probably because my body has little sense of humor about stress. I’ve always found walking in the woods my best stress reliever. I don’t go for any type of organized program but I do practice Qigong. It is great for both balance and flexibility and breathing practice. Plus my morning exercise only takes about 15 minutes. (Peggy and I do it together.) Beyond that, I usually divide my day up to include a variety of activities and make sure I include both play and education.–Curt
Hi Curt, I can understand how you and Peggy get your sense of balance, what with those wonderful walks near your property! Play and education, the best things in life, huh? Thanks, Curt.
It helps, of course, to be retired. 🙂 –Curt
Retired is good. I’m sure you’ve earned it!
These days, Brig, my idea of balance is not falling off the spin bike in my effort to de-flab. I would never even think to do Bikram at this stage in my depleting hormones. Hot flashing in a hot room: no thanks. I think your thoughts on balance are sound and I am sure my dad would subscribe to your way of thinking. My father was very fond of saying, “Everything in moderation. Nothing in excess.”When I was around 20, after hearing him say that to me for about the 2,694th time I countered, “If that’s so, then you’re excessively moderate.” He was not the type of man who would ever hit a woman, but if there ever was a time when he might have wanted to cold cock me, that might have been it.
I know what you mean, V. The weird little aches and pains after biking or walking or exercise bring absolute joy as well. How’s it going with that bike? Your Dad sounds cool and there must be something to that excessively moderate! Ha. I love that–spoken like a true smartass my friend.
I think you’ve hit on a major problem with Western culture—the idea that there’s a certain “state” that we should all be in, and if we can’t attain it, then something’s wrong, either within us or an outside event or force. And then people stress about it and take all kinds of medications to get them to that place. But states like balance or happiness can’t be maintained in perpetuity as you so wisely note. So we shouldn’t feel cheated or that we’ve failed somehow when life knocks us into a different one. There are times when life is difficult or doesn’t go exactly as we’d like. But that’s part of what makes the good times all the sweeter, right?
Oh, and when it comes to that opening picture with the bike? I’d rather be watching from the sidelines, please. 😉
Now that’s a perfect way of looking at it J. Sometimes I think when we try to achieve some popular definition of balance, it makes us more UNbalanced. Some times we just need to remember it’s not so complicated, you know? Thanks, J.
I know this wasn’t the focus of your post, but as soon as I read “Bikram”, my mind went “omg, hotsweatywahhhh”. I took a Bikram class a few years ago, and everything was going okay until the yoga instructor yelled at me for taking an “undesignated water break” and told me that the black spots dancing in my vision were “the toxins leaving my body” before I “achieved a state of total enlightenment”. So, yeah.
But anyway – balance! The best way I can relate balance in my life is with food. I try to eat healthy more often than not, but to balance all those vegetables out with a cookie every once in awhile. 🙂
Hey Erin! Nice to see you here. So you did the sweat yoga too? No I never became enlightened either. I like your idea of balance. Hot chocolate chip with cold milk. Now THAT’S balance.
I don’t think enlightenment is worth having if it requires dehydration and fainting. This is coming from a person still living in the unenlightened dark ages, though, so take it for what you will.
I think we can all agree that hot cookie with cold milk is the ultimate expression of yin/yang.
I like yin yoga and it makes me very peaceful. Did you read the expose in Vanity Fair on the Bikram yoga guy? He’s a freak. I think that yoga would make me sick.
I did not read about some freaky yoga guy but now I want to. Thanks Mags.
He is super icky.