The Illusion of Balance

I find the idea of balance fascinating. It seems to be the ultimate goal, the Holy Grail, as if it was a state one could reach, then live happily ever after. I fall into this trap quite often myself.

The truth is, balance is just an illusion. We strive toward equilibrium, but because of the intrinsic nature of life and the human condition, we are bound to waver between opposite states. We hope and think that, if only we can manage to control some aspect of our life, we'll have a greater sense of balance, without thinking that it probably will be disrupted, then, by another factor. Of course, the wavering itself can vary and be managed through lifestyle practices and mindfulness, hopefully steadying more and more toward the middle rather than moving from one extreme to the other.

The hard practice becomes to find a sense of stability no matter the circumstances, but also to learn enough about ourselves to prevent extremes swings from one state to the other (concrete example: running all around town on a week-end afternoon only to come home exhausted and depleted vs. spending same afternoon on the couch watching mindless TV). Accepting that life fluctuates, and that balance is not an immuable, fixed goal to be achieved but rather a breathing, living state of wellness can actually be quite freeing.

If you're looking for great inspiration on how to navigate the idea of balance and find equanimity in your life, I recommend Pema Chodron's wonderful book, When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times.