Seeking Balance: A Precarious Journey
“The greatest sign of the unmanageability in our past was the unbalanced lives we led.” – Touchstones
In my experience, blindly seeking “balance” in the quest for spiritual enlightenment is almost guaranteed to result in the development of unbalanced habits that only further distances me from my goals. As an individual with addictive tendencies and a habit for getting a little too enthusiastic a little too quickly, it’s easy for me to erroneously believe that a single action has the ability to dramatically alter life and how I move through it. When I buy into this mentality, the first sign of success, no matter how insignificant, compels me to jump in full-force without fully considering the real value that any single exercise can have in a holistic approach to wellness.
A little example may better illustrate my point. A few weeks ago I noticed that smiling at strangers typically encourages the reciprocation of a similar gesture. And, this mutual exchange of courtesies is capable of enhancing feelings of community, reassures me that others are traveling a similarly well-intentioned path, and is able to help restore balance when my life becomes lopsided. Simple enough, right?
Well, that same week I also discovered that too emphatic a smile on the wrong day or in the wrong neighborhood may end with a trip to the emergency room, a phone call to the police or an unwanted advance (typically sexual in nature), which are all capable of triggering a highly acute fight-or-flight response while simultaneously destroying a little bit of my faith in humanity, both of which tip my wellness scale in the wrong direction.
Although I can assure you that this example is completely hypothetical, I believe it clearly illustrates the consequences that an enriching practice aimed at creating or restoring balance may have when taken out of the context in which it is intended.
My primary point is that balance for me is going to look completely different than it will for you and the misguided application of another’s wellness practice is likely to neglect my unique spiritual and emotional circumstance.
By no means am I suggesting that we stop seeking balance. The consequences of such an approach would be far more detrimental to our health and spiritual growth than the confused application of another’s spiritual practice. Rather, I am suggesting that we seek balance in a way that creates value in our lives within the context of our unique spiritual programs.
Silent meditation may work for some, but that practice is largely lost on me. However, journaling and moving meditation work extremely well for me and I try to incorporate these practices on a daily basis.
This idea can be applied to nutrition as well. For example, a balanced approach to nutrition for a largely sedentary 50-year-old male that spends the majority of his time behind a computer will look completely different than a highly active 25-year-old female that works as a bike messenger. Her activity level will require a few more carbohydrates than his and he will probably hover around the lower end of the recommended caloric range for his age while she will live around the max.
Imbalance may be one of the greatest causes of physical and psychological disease, but seeking balance without fully understanding what that concept means within the context of our own lives is a recipe for disaster. We are all highly unique and developing a program that enhances our individual experience will greatly enhance our physical, emotional and spiritual well-being.