Balance: How often do you hear, see or say this word? I, for one, hear it a lot. From childhood learning, to meal planning, health magazines, doctor offices, board rooms, food labels, therapists, teachers, bosses and world news, the term is widespread. We can use the word often, but when it comes to defining it, I find many are at a loss. As a Balance, Wellness and Movement Coach, I guide others in the quest to define and create their life on their terms. Rediscovering and defining for ourselves what some basic terms and concepts mean to us as individuals is the key to living authentically and meaningfully. This balance thing is no exception.
For a long time the concept of balance eluded me, too. To be honest, sometimes it still does. I have often wondered "does this balance thing even exist? And if so, who has it?" This initial curiosity has set me on a journey that continues daily, no end in sight yet.
In looking more closely at this all elusive state, I discovered some of the ways I have defined balance. I have equated to stillness and calm, success and perfection. This is a nice theory, a grand ideal, and a trap when I attach to it. Balanced living might include all of these things, though it is not dependent on them. Balance is not a state of complete stillness, as I have thought most of my life and until now, assumed, and become quite frustrated over. Looking at this belief now, it appears more like death to me. Accepting that I had been confused in previous interactions with balance allowed me to rediscover what it is in my life.
If balance isn't what I thought, what does it even look like? How will I know when I'm living it? Am I just waiting for someone else to tell me I have arrived at it?
Asking the question "what is balance to me?" while weaving in the tool of curiosity brought even more questions. Question, question, doubt, frustration, question, comparison... and then I had a revelation.
Sitting on one of those almost too fun to exercise with bouncy balls of all places, I noticed how when I got still and found my center, to remain there, upright and erect, I had to make continuous small adjustments to my legs, back, abs, and arms. A lot was being asked of me: my breath and focus were required as I kept these systems working together to keep me “balanced." This working to stay centered did not feel stressful or agitating, it did ask me to focus and stay committed. "This was it, balance!" poured from my lips, and then I tipped off and met the mat. I had met balance for a moment. My physic al body was not completely still though it might have appeared so from the outside. This moment on the yoga mat remains with me. A simple exercise with profound teachings.
Balance is not what I had previously thought. In an instant, my definition broadened and so had my experience of balance. No longer stagnant and fixed, I was free to explore balance in new terms. Stay curious and the answers will come.
Such is the way balance shows up in my day to day life. Accept the imbalance, ask meaningful questions and assess the situation from the inside out. Bring to awareness one area of your world that feels a bit off kilter. Get in touch with the situation or relationship and apply these questions to it:
Feel into these statements and practice how it will be to actually strike the balanced life you so desire. In celebrating the process of finding our own balance, new insights become available that were hidden from view when we were in resistance mode.
The idea that balance has to look a certain way will keep it in our future, never in the here and now. And who wants to wait for balance? I know I don't. Some equilibrium now and ongoingly sounds wonderful. As long as we stay in the "if...then" and "when...then," our power to choose the reality we live remains in the hands of others: other people, institutions, and circumstances.
My definition of balance is one that continues to grow, change and reveal itself in new ways. While I still wonder how balanced my life actually is, when I ponder on the balance thing there is a peaceful presence that definitely hasn't always been there. Putting to practice the tools of acceptance, curiosity, assessment and application (trying things out) have changed my relationship with balance into something rich, menaingful and rewarding. Balance is something unique to each of us, undefinable by anyone else. Continuing to identify what balance means to me has become fun as I've taken the pressure off and given myself a break for not being perfect. Both of these are daily spiritual practices. I might not be perfect, I definitely tumble, and there are areas of my life that are beautifully in balance right now. These are worth celebrating! And learning from for that matter. Where we are in balance can direct us to find balance and live it in the areas that are ready for a newfound centeredness. Take a moment and learn from your successes. Practically applying what has worked for us before is a simple and efficient way to attain our goals.
Ways to communicate with that balance thing and strike it where you want it include: make small adjustments, look for what's already working, practice adaptability, flexibility, patience, letting go of assumptions, have trust in your process, take the lens off other people's balance or lack thereof, shake the constantly available opinions of others, following your intuition, ask those you admire how they strike the balance they do.
Explore these concepts and apply them to your day to day when you want to find balance again. Remember, balance, like us, are continusouly growing and changing. Allow the balance of yesterday to transform into something equally satifying.
Remember, there is no one way to live in balance. Freedom comes from knowing what works for someone else might not work for you. We are all in this together and only you can discover that glorious formula for balanced living perfectly tailored for you! Question those assumptions, explore your world, stay curious, get on the bouncy ball, be gentle with yourself and find your way to balance as it is showing up today.
Ready, Set, Go, I believe in you!
I do not have children. The truth is, I don't know if I ever will. The call to motherhood, in the traditional sense, is something relatively foreign to me. Since I was very young, I noticed other girls and boys talk about having a family, being the mom and dad to their own little girls and boys. I did not share this fantasy. I did, however, dream of having animals, traveling to unknown places, interacting with people from across the globe and helping in places where love was needed most. Where kids and a "normal" family were concerned, I didn't hear the call. I still don't, at least not now. Being a woman is so tied to being a mother. With my inner compass guiding in directions other than family life, having and raising children, putting on the Mom role, I have felt a sometimes subtle, other times glaring alienation. Is there something wrong with me? If I don't have kids, how can I be a complete woman? The questions and answers have come over time, continuously changing and evolving as I myself grow and change. What I have found is that I, as much as any other woman, am a mother. If to no one else, to me.
I have held space for and nurtured many ideas, periods of experience and transition. I am compelled to care for and provide comfort in way only a mother can. Being a mom is about more than having biological children. Motherhood is an archetype all women channel in their own unique ways. Mothers are the nests where precious life grows, the watchers and protectors, the teachers and guides. Mothers are generous and caring, masters of compromise and creativity. The decisions and circumstances that lead to the external role of mom are just one aspect of this archetype. Parenthood and motherhood are not one in the same. This being said, I honor all parents. My mother and the women I have been raised by and with are incredibly compassionate, resourceful, dynamic, generous, intelligent, insightful, supportive, brave human beings. I have learned how to be a woman in the world by their examples and through their encouragement. They have shown me to how channel the archetype of motherhood and lent me the courage to forge my own path.
I am my own mother. I nurture and protect the seedlings within that are taking root and in the formation stage. I wrap a warm blanket around the shoulders and heat the tea kettle when I am sick. I look in the mirror and say I believe in you when fear is telling me to give up on my dreams. I tend to the details like only a mother can. I hold on when it is needed and let go when it is time. I am always present and stand by me no matter what. I stand up for what I believe in and offer others the respect to choose their own way. I am a mother, to myself.
Claiming this powerful archetypal energy is available to women everywhere. It is built into us, a birthright. Regardless of the decisions or circumstances that have shaped the outer world, if their are children running through your house, have been, or ever will be, you are a mother. Whether your experience of motherhood leaves a smile on your face or tenderness in your heart, there is space for expansion and healing. Choosing to recognize the mother within is a life affirming move. When the mother within is found, seen, and allowed to express herself, the whole world changes.
Can you recall a woman who has shaped your life in meaningful ways? Perhaps it is your biological mom, perhaps it is not. Whoever comes to mind represents a loving mother to you and can be honored. What did she do, what energies did she embody and what did you learn from her? Tap into this wisdom and channel it. Now try on the motherhood cape, just for yourself, and notice what you find. Becoming what we desire from others is the key to living a peaceful, deeply fulfilling and vibrant life. If you have children, I have no doubt that providing and showing up is a constant. Giving is honorable and important, and so is receiving. Looking in the mirror and seeing my own inner mom gazing back is the sweet stuff I wish for all of you. Whatever you've been through, wherever you're going, that inner mother companion and guide is there cheering you on, sometimes with a quiet sweet smile, other times hooting and hollering. It might take practice to find her or make sense of how she speaks to you. Good things can take time to cultivate. If you feel lost, simply start by asking "what would a loving mom do?" and go from there. You know the way...
Darcy Helene Meehan
As an advocate of Reinvention + Recovery, I work with clients to achieve balance, alignment and purpose in all areas