“Balance is not something you find. It’s something you create.” – Jana Kingsford
With all the buzz in contemporary media about maintaining a healthy work-life balance, you’re probably well aware of its importance by now. There are only so many hours in the day and we can’t always do everything that we want to do within this limited time frame. Consequently, time management and prioritizing tasks have become invaluable skills to have in the modern world.
While learning to manage our time is certainly an essential component of establishing balance, what’s even more important is being able to inculcate a sense of internal harmony by creating congruence between our outer and inner world. Living in alignment with our truth breeds feelings of equanimity, inner peace and stability, based on a solid foundation of self-awareness.
Our proclivity to find balance is a reflection of nature’s ways of attaining balance in the ecosystem. Through the process of competition, adaptation and other interactions between the natural world of animals and plants, it seeks to maintain a stable environment in our community.
Even our bodies are built to maintain balance through a process called homeostasis, which is a process that an organism uses to maintain its parameter within a normal range of values. This property is vital to a healthy life as failures in homeostasis can lead to diseases and ailments. We can prevent bodily breakdowns from occurring by doing our part of living a healthy lifestyle.
The word homeostasis comes from two Greek words: “homeo” meaning “similar” and “stasis” meaning “stable”. No matter how much we eat, sweat, drink and expose ourselves to extremes, our body does it’s best to maintain a stable and relatively constant inner state.
So when our bodies are so efficient in creating balance in our bodies, why do so many of us struggle to do it in the mental and emotional realm? Judging from the escalating levels of stress and intake of antidepressants, it’s clear that a significant portion of the population lack guidance on how to find balance, even though they may want to be calm and centered.
There are two reasons for this inability to elicit a balanced state. First, it’s due to a failure to overcome the drive for instant gratification. According to Buddhism, The Middle Way, which is a key teaching in the discipline, learning to practice a life of deliberate moderation is the key to overcoming this problem. We also need to believe in oneness of the spirit and body.
On the path of The Middle Way, we can embrace both spiritualism and materialism, just like the two sides of a coin. We can find a healthy medium between a life of sensual self-indulgence and self-mortification. In this serene space, you won’t feel the urge to eat ten cookies or to get embroiled in emotional drama or burn yourself out at the office.
Another reason why many people aren’t balanced is because they’re disconnected from an authentic sense of self that’s predicated on a solid base of self-esteem and an inner knowing of who they are and what they want out of life. When you know your values on the inside, you’ll know how to act on the outside, and how to spend your time and energy wisely.
Everyone has a unique balance point because we all do things a little bit differently. Each one of us also has different needs, nervous systems and personality types. Some people like to have more alone time than others. Some people need more stimulating experiences to achieve balance. Some need more intimacy, while others like to have more personal space and freedom.
We need to apply ourselves to a lifelong process of self-discovery by engaging in trial-and-error and exposing ourselves to novel experiences so that we get clued-up about what works for us and what doesn’t. No matter what your specific preferences are, you have the power to find balance in life, to live with no regrets and be fully engaged each and every day.
Here are five steps that you can take to find your perfect balance point in mind, body and soul:
- Make a list of your needs and wants: We can’t create balance if we don’t know what exactly we need to feel balanced. This is where self-knowledge becomes essential. Begin your quest by first learning the difference between your needs and wants. Needs consist of the goods and services that are required for our survival, such as food, clothing, shelter and healthcare. Wants are goods and services that are not necessary but what we wish for and desire. For example, I absolutely need to have healthy foods and clean drinking water to feel balanced, and I can forgo buying a new dress or iPhone to ensure that my primary needs are met. Knowing your needs and wants will make you more efficient when it comes to allocating your resources in a way that serves you best.
- Cut out the drainers: A major component of creating balance in your life includes cutting out the people, behavior and thought patterns and situations that drain your energy. Eliminate junk food and drinks and replace them with fresh produce that energizes you. Avoid toxic people such as whiners, complainers and negative people. If you can’t avoid them, at least minimize contact and tune them out as much as possible. If you’re in a job that does not fulfill you and bores you, think about how you can begin to transition out of it and into a career path that excites you. This previous post provides more guidance on how to strategically eliminate the energy drainers in your life.
- Create a schedule and structures that ensures that you meet your needs: Once you’ve gained clarity about what you need to stay balanced, the next step is to find ways to consistently meet those needs on a regular basis. This requires you to prioritize and organize limited resources such as time, energy and finances. For example, if you feel that you need to be more active to increase your productivity during the day, you could schedule a morning walk before work, but for that to happen, you will have to wake up earlier in the morning and prepare your breakfast the night before. Look over your list of needs and wants and ask yourself how you can fit in activities that you can commit to doing on regular basis. A realistic schedule and structures will give you the discipline to stay on track with doing the things you need to do to maintain a state of equilibriu
- Always take time to tune in: Maintaining inner balance requires that we carve out time to be still and tune in to our inner-self. That means disconnecting from the noise around you by getting off your social media accounts, putting down your phone, giving your work brain a rest and prioritizing quality me-time to nurture yourself. Engaging in practices such as meditation, personal reflection, journaling and introspection connects us to our intuitive and wiser self, which keeps us abreast on our true sentiments about the events that are occurring in our life. Your feelings operate like a thermostat that keeps a stable internal environment and lets you know when you need to address something to get back into balance. Ignoring or numbing out these signals can lead to all sorts of ailments.
- Have tools and techniques you can use when you feel off-balance: It’s almost impossible for us to be like Zen monks all the time. All it takes is a hurtful comment or an annoying driver who cuts in front of you, or an unexpected work deadline to send you off into a state of frenzy. Unforeseen events that are out of our control can happen at any time and potentially disrupt our inner peace. That’s why we need to be prepared with handy tools and techniques that we can use for whenever we feel derailed from our calm repose. Fortunately, there are a number of effective remedies available to us, such as deep breathing techniques, affirmations, EFT, visualization, cognitive behavior therapy, and the practice of surrender. This detailed list of techniques will give you more ideas.
Creating a steady state of balance is a dynamic act because your idea of what a balanced life constitutes will shift over time as you evolve your consciousness. Be willing to listen and make any adjustments over time, and in the process, you’ll build the strength and capacity to manifest a life that’s bursting with all the colors, textures and beauty that you’ve always dreamed of!
All my best on your journey,
Question for you: Have you been able to find the perfect balance in your life? What helped you achieve this state of being?