During the last month balance has been a re-occurring topic among conversations I have had with friends. Surely it is not because of the chosen topic for this month’s issue of Holstee magazine, but rather because it is something that occupies our lives on a daily basis.
We live within the realms of opposing sides, and between them we try to find an equilibrium, balancing back and forth, establishing the right amounts of pretty much everything in life.
And it’s hard.
Sometimes so hard, and we don’t always see the whole scope of things; we keep pouring more and more attention over the one matter and meanwhile, back at the ranch, it’s flooded already.
Now what have we been talking about then?
Everything from organizing and using time mindfully, to loving others and giving of oneself wisely. Everything we do, we do more or less of, and all of it is ultimately a balancing act on a scale of what we hold up to.
And we all have stories to tell, about how we try to find balance, to keep balanced, how we lost balance, how we realized that we had in fact lost it, and how we regained it. Or how we are still battling with the opposing sides to find that tranquil middle way that lets us rest. And foremost, that lets us get on with the rest of our lives.
Because sometimes, within the state of imbalance, it’s as if everything in life is about that one thing. That single one thing that we are totally occupied with, becomes the heavy weight that totally skews our world and we are in the status chaos.
We have all felt it; the sensation of not being quite in our own body, of having our ”head in the clouds”, of a certain stress rushing through our system not letting us finish anything we start or even sometimes start what we wish to start. Sometimes this implodes and can leave us totally locked in a spiral, and while we try to get out of it it by thinking our way through it, we only get deeper in discomfort and sometimes we totally lose direction. Using logic or reason while our thoughts are spinning, minds are restless and there is no direction in sight is like trying to organize a totally packed closet from inside the closet: impossible.
The imbalance stems from different places for all of us, but all in all: we have lost the connection with ourselves.
Losing our balance in life is not necessarily a bad thing; sometimes it represents growth and development that we can't yet see. The problem occurs when we get tangled up in stress, loss of identity, worldview and, even sometimes, hope.
Most of the time we find things to do that help us restore it, just by listening to our own intuition, and often this happens without us realizing it. We can start cleaning, doing the dishes, gardening, organizing everyday things as simple tools of restoring a larger balance, our faith in how the world is connected. Simple things that makes sense to us, and help us to use a one-pointed focus for a couple of minutes.
By mindful practice, we connect the parts of us that are floating around so that we can regain our center.
This mindful practice doesn’t need to be any more advanced or spiritual than the ones we just mentioned; the trick is only to be present and truly engage in the task at hand.
Sometimes though, it can take a bit more thna that.
And sometimes we need help, suggestions or guidelines to which we can adhere, The suggestions we are given are to singularize our thoughts, trying to leave all stress behind and seek our focus.
This is meditation. One-pointed attention. And while we practice this, our mind calms down from the restless buzz to a stillness of thoughts.
It’s not easy, and we need both patience and kindness to practice this.
As a helpful starting point, here are a few points that have their origins in a text compiled in India some couple of thousands of years ago, still (or maybe more than ever before) providing a foundation for growth and conscious living and mediation practice:
- Calm is retained by controlled breathing, slow exhalation and slow inhalation. Making time for a ten minute practice of breathing every morning or evening. (Or during any point of the day!)
- Concentrating on something uplifting can engage the mind and thoughts to focus and center. If breathing seems to abstract and you need some positive focus, think of a beautiful place or idea that makes you smile.
- Visualize a light center within ourselves; the verse mention a supreme light within that we are all part of, however if one is not connected to this idea it can be hard to focus on since it can seem too far away. But to visualize a light or even to think that there is strong positive energy inside you, is a start to something.
- Having a person to look up to, aspire to reach, can also help us find focus, and to think about this person with awareness and focus on the attributes this person holds.
- Sometimes using a memory, or a dream, that left us with an uplifting feeling can again lift our spirit.
- Meditating on anything that one find spiritually inspiring, elevating, will work.
In fact, taking the time every day (this is important part), to create a steady practice and a routine, will change the state of your mind and eventually you might see that the practice affirms a certain calm and presence within you.
And what have we concluded, in the conversations about balance? Mainly, that balance is about making conscious choices. To own one’s reality, to take responsibility for one’s actions, and to try to meet the ongoing questions in our lives with a clear approach.
That when things seem muddled, taking a moment to step back from the situation to clear our thoughts and see what arrives within that openness. Creating a space for balance to breathe its way into us again.
Frida Sjögren is a Sweden-based artist and jewelry maker. She is also a devoted yogi and currently studying the beautiful teachings and practice of ashtanga yoga as an apprentice at the Mysore program in Stockholm.
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