A couple of years ago, a friend of mine who is a Doula created some parenting classes for new moms. She reached out to me about coming in to lead a talk about finding balance in their lives. I laughed and told her, “I’ll come in and let them know that there is no such thing!” She politely told me perhaps she would look elsewhere to find a different leader on that topic. Oops, a missed opportunity perhaps, but I just can’t lie. What I mean to do is give permission to let go of the expectation that “someday” when all contingencies have been met, you will be in a state of total balance. If you constantly search for this elusive state where everything in your life falls into perfect harmony … well, friends, that may be a fruitless search.
Balance is often the idea that everything gets its fair share: time for your spouse or partner, your children, your work, your friends, your hobbies, your exercise routine, resting, laundry, cooking, and everything else you would like to fit into your day with equal energy. Does that sound like life? On any given day, some of these things will move higher on the “to do” list and others will move down. Maybe we need to rebrand balance as “recalibration”? We put undue pressure on ourselves to have every part of our lives in total harmony.
We hear and read so much about the pursuit of balance. An entire category of postures (asanas) are balance poses. In many of these postures, we notice most when we are off balance because we fall over! Often it is easier to notice on our yoga mat than in our daily lives when we are out of balance. We find ourselves exhausted, short-tempered, or reaching for things to numb ourselves. We spend too much time in one area of our lives and little or no time in another, and we feel the world tipping around us too far in one direction. This can be a great tool for self-awareness. When we notice these feelings or reactions, it’s an opportunity to get quiet and bring ourselves back. We eventually learn to realize the perfect place is right now in this moment as we choose it. The world will not shift to our demands, but we can shift our perception of the world, and in doing so, create what will allow us to thrive.
The yoga tradition has a belief a part of you remains in balance, no matter what: the part of you that is always at rest, always at peace, and can discern what you need for you to thrive in any given moment. These philosophies and practices teach and show us everything is always in a state of flux. Just like the balance postures, the awareness of what needs attention keeps us upright! Some days we might need rest, and other days we might need to go for a run. At times our work needs more attention, and at other times, we require rest and rejuvenation. Perhaps the point is to acknowledge total harmony cannot be a destination. The journey is a state of flow where listening, discernment, and action all interact with one another.
We feel the pressure to “have it all,” but what does that even mean? We cannot believe the images we see on social media or T.V. are real. These are lives that have been carefully curated, and the outcome is something unattainable and certainly unsustainable. It’s not to say that we can’t be inspired by what we see, but it might be less stressful if we release the concept of total harmony in all aspects of our lives. Embracing doing less and enjoying the spaciousness that comes with more time ultimately helps us to decide what would serve us in any given moment. This seems like a nice counter to the constant striving and achievement-based pressure cooker happening all around us. Let go of the myth of balance, and instead make choices that bring you in closer alignment with the peace and calm available to you whenever you are ready to listen.
A dedicated teacher, guide, and humble student, Betsy Weiner has been working and learning in the spaces of yoga, meditation, Yoga Nidra and spiritual life coaching for over 20 years. She believes we already have everything we need within, and that each one of us is whole and complete, exactly as we are. Betsy moonlights as a back-up singer in a cover band and thinks laughing might truly be the best medicine.