Seeking Balance

Paul Dunion

What is balance? Is it a good thing? If so, how is it acquired? Before addressing psychological balance, let’s explore the analogy of physical balance. We say that if you can stand on one foot while holding the other foot uplifted, you have demonstrated some measure of balance. If you can stand on one foot, and move the other foot in mid-air forward, side-to-side and backward, then you’ve demonstrating more balance. If you can do the same exercise with your eyes closed, then you are likely showing a greater level of balance.
The above illustrations suggest that physical balance can be measured by removing certain underpinnings, such as two feet firmly planted on the floor, and see if a particular position can be maintained. However, standing on one foot while waving the other in several different directions is not a way to address a variety of tasks. For instance, it would not be advisable to attempt to either shovel snow or chop wood while maintaining such a posture.
The one-footed exercises demonstrate how much balance you are accessing as you walk regularly, twist, jump and run. Your degree of physical balance is indicated by taking one foot away and adding movement to identify how much loss of balance occurs when removing the stabilizing factor of two feet planted firmly. You discover how much balance you’re living with when you discover the point where you begin to lose balance.
It may be that psychological balance can also be achieved by experiencing a lack of balance. Your psychological one-foot-off the ground happens in numerous ways. Any obsession will do. Work too much, eat too much, drink too much, exercise too much, stay awake too much, spend too much and attend to others too much. Similar to the one-foot exercise, we can temporarily take away psychological underpinnings.
Analogous to the support of two feet planted firmly, psychological underpinnings might include playing, singing, dancing, recreating, interacting with friends, meditating, receiving therapeutic massage, engaging in some form of artistic endeavor or napping. We can get away with removing these life reinforcements for a short time.
Stress results when balance is compromised. We can think of stress as tension. Standing on one foot too long will create stress for the planted foot, likely resulting in damage to the knee or hip. Similarly, removing too many of the psychological supports will lead to stress causing a number of possible symptoms. Such physical symptoms can be gastric, cardiac or back problems. Psychological symptoms might include excessive anger, impatience, depression, anxiety and dissociation.
Maybe we find ourselves working sixty hours per week or eating too much for a couple of weeks. Similar to standing on one foot for thirty seconds, we can maintain our balance. However, attempting to stand on one foot for hours or working excessively for months can likely begin to announce the loss of balance. It may be that we only get clear about a loss of psychological balance because we got caught up in some obsession.
Obsessions can be highly seductive. They typically carry the illusion of giving us more control over our lives. Of course, just the opposite is true. However, we indulge in excess because we either feel safer, stronger or simply feel better about ourselves. Hence, to break free from an obsession usually happens because we begin to notice the physical or emotional price we are paying.
Fixations offer the challenge of understanding how we get into them, how they can inform us and what it takes to break free seeking more balance. They can both kill and they can remind us how to live life on life’s terms.
Here are several bottom lines regarding the benefits of balance:
*It releases you from the myopic vision created by an obsession.
*The pressure to get life right is mitigated.
*The movement form activity to passivity is restorative.
*Creates more opportunity to be mindful of what truly matters to you.
*It tends to be more inclusive of the many parts of the self.
*An increased capacity to honor personal limits.
*Diminished experience of resentment because limits are honored.
*Increased awareness of how much energy is available in order to address a particular task.
*More clarity regarding what choices truly do serve you.
*Diminished stress leading toward greater equanimity.

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Dunion has been in private practice for 38 years and has published five books.