The Quest for Balance

Kathy Ryndak, Gord RiddellIn this complex, multi-faceted existence, it can be difficult to strike a balance between all the various aspects of daily living. Certain areas of life may at times overwhelm us, creating a sense of being out of control. We can become overly focused on our job, relationship, family life, spirituality, our emotional process or our health. Our challenge is to find a place inside ourselves where all competing aspects have a place to peacefully co-exist. All the while, we must understand that at certain times, one area of our life will absolutely require more attention than others.

It is natural to have a sense of excitement, enthusiasm or concern for our experiences. However, our natural tendency is to focus on just one area, and neglect others. We become so engrossed in learning, experiencing, doing and/or figuring out things, we often let other areas slide, sometimes to our detriment. The concept of moderation comes into play here insofar as everything in our life needs attention to one degree or another. The more we focus on just one area, the greater risk we run of distorting what life is all about – living.

Here are a few ways to create balance for ourselves:

1) Our Jobs: For many people, what they do, the positions they hold and the money they make define who they are as a person. The danger here is confusing our careers with who we are as people. If there is a change in our job situation – if we are fired, laid off or retire – we may lose all sense of who we are and the ability to balance our life in the face of change. The digital age seems to have made our work life longer and harder rather than easier. To balance our work life, we need to have a strong sense of who we are as humans beyond titles or money. We want to use the rewards of our job to enhance our non-working life. Also, we need to avoid using the job as a place to hide from our personal life.

2) Our Relationships: Relationships can be all-consuming because they introduce so much energy, both positive and negative, into our lives. Relationships provide us with love, support, caring and fun, but they also trigger issues left over from childhood. Relationships bring old wounds to the surface, giving us the chance to heal them. Due to the intensity of feelings in relationships, we forget our selves. To create balance in relationships, we have to remain aware of who we are and what we are bringing into the relationship, and make sure we spend time on our own, with friends and pursuing personal interests apart from our partner. If we wait for our partner to give us a life, the relationship will be doomed.

3) Our Spirituality: Spiritual awareness and spiritual practice are important for a balanced life. Spirituality provides us with a deeper understanding of the world around us as well as our role in it. It can provide us with a sense of peace and the tools to better know our selves. It becomes out of balance when too much of our focus goes into our spiritual practices, at the expense of other areas. Meditation, prayer, chanting and drumming are all tools to help us establish a balanced life. While discovering and exploring our spirituality is exciting and new, we do need to maintain perspective on how we use and when we use these new tools of awareness.

4) Our Emotional Healing: We all have issues. We will all have issues until the day we depart from this planet. When we make the decision to enter into emotional healing, we need to know that it can become totally consuming and overwhelm our sense of living. We need to keep perspective on the fact that healing is multi-leveled. In other words, you may have to revisit certain areas of your life many times to get at the very deepest levels. This can often take a long time. We can have awareness of our process and how we move through things, but for many the danger is staying in our wounds and old hurts and re-living them over and over again. To create balance in this area, we need to learn the ability to facilitate the process we are going through. We do not need to wallow in our pain. We will learn that if we carry on with our day-to-day activities, our very capable subconscious mind will continue to do the work that needs to be done.

5) Our Health: Like many of the areas already touched upon, our health can slip out of balance when we focus too exclusively on our body. Extreme exercise, nutritional regimentation and obsessing about bodily aches, pains and functions can take away from our overall enjoyment of life. To balance, we need to look at how our health concerns and practices enhance the quality of life, not the quantity of life. There is no award for those who have the most fit and nutritionally pure body at the end of life. We all have to leave the planet, eventually. So live a little. No, better yet, live a lot!

The human mind is prone to both obsessive thought and compulsive behaviour. Our challenge is to explore and experience life’s diversity in a balanced way. Our awareness must continually monitor the tendency to fall out of balance, and adjust. Try taking a mental photograph of yourself paired with various aspects of your life. If you feel your job is consuming too much time, take a photograph, and see where you are in the photo in relation to your job. Maybe you are somewhere off in the background, while your job is front and centre. In doing this little exercise, you can see in your mind’s eye that you may need to do some rebalancing. This is your life, and yet you are in the background, overshadowed by your job. When things are balanced, you will always be front and centre, or at least sharing front and centre, with the various parts of your life. Creating balance is never easy. At times, certain areas of life will demand more attention. The danger is that once we learn to put other people, places and things before ourselves, we lose a sense of our selves and the ability to stand back and rebalance things. Keep using the photo exercise as a way to check where you are. Keep moving yourself into the foreground.

At the end life, no one wishes they had spent more time at the office or run more miles. We wish we had spent more time with loving people, soaked up more sun on the beach, played in the waves, or climbed more mountains. It really is all about quality, not quantity. Now go out and have fun!

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