The Art of Balance
Balance is a word that gets thrown around often. How to achieve it? How to find it? How to keep it? I felt inspired to write about this today after an impromptu conversation with a friend after practice a few days ago. We were sharing our experiences with our own practice and what matters to us in relation to sustaining it.
I walked away with clarity on a few things;
It’s about Aspirations - Understanding the why and the how behind my actions and with what amount of effort I am putting towards something is important. For example, there are some weeks where I wake up every morning at 5:30am, make coffee, meditate, write, practice asana and go about my day. I feel good doing this. I feel productive, structured, and disciplined - like I am “doing the practitioner thing well and it is supporting my intention. And then, the mood changes, the world throws me something new that through my practice I recognize as important to my heart. Perhaps this conflicts with my strict, regimented routine. And now, I am feeling after a while like I am losing energy, becoming less enthusiastic, participating less in the world. So here lies the next step.
It’s about Discernment - Balance is a constant practice of allowing the awareness of the body, mind and heart to explore what comes in. Receptivity is the precursor to discernment. If I do not allow my heart to receive feelings, emotions, new truths of the moment because I am too busy “working on achieving balance” with my practice, I will not know where the next road to growing myself lies. This I find to be the hardest part of balance practice. The waiting. Because it feels like nothing is happening, it feels like laziness and apathy. But the truth is receiving the moment with open interest and faith that the part of the practice that is more active has led me to this moment naturally supports me in the next step.
It’s about Courage - The effort to be fierce in my pursuit of the spiritual path with an understanding of my aspiration within the changing moments. Honoring, exploring and staying curious about the changes, yet having the courage to let go and reevaluate serves me. There have been years, especially in the beginning of my commitment to practice, where my practice lifestyle was extremely regimented and structured. It was somewhat challenging - the early mornings out and early nights in, but I felt a connection I longed for and allowed myself to explore this routine.
But, even as I connected and made friends and understood the benefits, something shifted after a few years. I all of a sudden felt lonely and isolated and confused. I wasn’t clear why something that felt so fulfilling for so long, and whose circumstances hadn’t changed all of a sudden began to feel heavy and burdensome. I felt guilty and ignored the feeling for a while. I continued to show up in the same way, day after day but it was clear my enthusiasm and joy were zapped.
Finally, I allowed myself to feel the truth of the moment and land in how unhappy I was. What I noticed was the suffering of attachment. Attachment to the routine, to my identity around being this type of person.
I started practicing receiving my emotions and meeting the moment with what would most serve, not what my identity had built for me. The courage I found was in letting go of this identity and exploring what had become a deeper layer of my aspiration. Connecting not only with myself and reclaiming my independence, but also my interdependence, and intimacy with others. This knowing allowed me to rest in the permission to relax a bit on the early mornings, stay out a bit later to connect to people that interest me, and expand my connection to humanity.
In the beginning, it is important to connect to ourselves first. Develop a practice of looking inward, excluding what doesn’t serve. It is important to feel and enjoy how strong that makes us feel. It helps us to develop the faith that we are worthy. Yet, there comes a time, when the practice calls us to release the noose and include more - utilize the strength cultivated to practice more spontaneously and make the container a little more transparent and inclusive. Trust in the ability to take in, discern and participate in the natural unfolding of life one moment at a time.