Image courtesy of Gustty
Balance is something that is often mentioned in personal development and well-being circles. It is said you should eat a balanced diet, live a balanced life and seek a good work/family balance. But what is balance? What does it mean to live a balanced life and why does balance seem like such an elusive concept?
“It is said an Eastern monarch once charged his wise men to invent him a sentence to be ever in view, and which should be true and appropriate in all times and situations. They presented him the words: And this, too, shall pass away.” – Abraham Lincoln
Life really is one thing after another. The physical environment we each live in is in constant streaming flux. Physically when it’s cold we shiver to bring our body temperature up. When it’s hot we sweat to bring our body temperature down. As living organisms we live in a constantly changing environment. Our bodies are well adapted to this state of affairs and respond appropriately when conditions deviate from their optimal state. This ability of an organism to maintain equilibrium (balance) by adjusting appropriately to the external environment is known as homeostasis.
And there in lies the key to understanding balance. Balance is the taking of appropriate action when circumstances dictate so as to maintain equilibrium. It is said that the great achievement of the sages of old was the achievement of great balance as human beings. How did they achieve great balance? In the present moment, when things would come up, they would respond accordingly.
“There is no secret to balance. You just have to feel the waves.” – Frank Herbert
When it comes to a concept or principle such as balance it is important to understand that between different people and even from moment to moment the locus of balance is always going to be different. For example, what constitutes a balanced diet for one person may be completely different for another. Both diets may be very healthy in their own right but it is the context of the individual that makes them so. This is probably the key reason for so much disagreement and confusion in the field of nutrition. There is no one size fits all. No mass-producible solution. A difficult business model indeed and so another diet book comes off the press and another wonder product hits the shelves.
“Food is an important part of a balanced diet.” – Fran Lebowitz
Finding a sense of balance and harmony at some point in any aspect of life will soon turn to disharmony and loss of balance if you try to hold on and freeze that moment forever. Such action is futile and will only lead to pain and your own suffering. The only constant is change. The waves come in, break and recede. Then they roll on in again. Instead of fighting and being tumbled painfully ashore, feel the waves coming and ride them out.
“Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance and order and rhythm and harmony.” – Thomas Merton
About the writer: This article was written by Stephen Cox. Stephen writes daily at Balanced Existence where he shares the knowledge and insights gained from his personal journey of holistic health and wellbeing.