Rethinking Balance

Rethinking Balance

Embracing Complexity, Mindfulness, and Personal Priorities for a Fulfilling Life - Bu Susie Murray

Reading time: 4 minutes

Our drive to cultivate harmony lies behind the promise of the definition of balance. The concept of equal distribution and maintaining stability and calmness in all we do would benefit us and be something we all strive for. However, attaining this quality can often feel elusive, and even if, for a moment, we embody the holy grail of equilibrium, the experience is frequently fleeting.

This desire and pursuit can amplify the pressure of expectations of who we are and what we hope to accomplish. But when we don't meet those expectations, we feel disheartened or that we are failing.

By perpetuating the perception of balance as a space of total equilibrium, we tightly hold onto the stifling and restrictive idea that balance is about remaining in control and being perfectly poised at all times. But for many of us, this is not our reality. We are complex beings with a proficiency to juggle.

Whether you are trying to balance your work life and your personal life, your ambitions and your passions, or even your dietary habits, a 50/50 distribution sets us up to fail. Our lives are a vast mixture of constantly fluctuating and changing ingredients. And to understand balance, we should reflect on how we perceive it. 

Even in our asana practice, the symmetry in our sequence of poses should be dictated more by the individual needs of the practitioner than by setting up poses to offset against one another. Regarding specific balance poses, anyone who has ever held a handstand can attest that staying in complete stillness will not support the dynamic awareness required for balancing.

The practitioner quickly appreciates the sway in the movement because it is there amongst the wobble where the magic of balance reveals itself. Each moment serves as an opportunity to taste and determine every changing second and sensation so we can adapt and adjust to the needs of what is happening now.

Today, technology offers endless tricks and tips to build a more productive lifestyle that will ultimately free up our time and provide us with the balance we believe we're lacking. We have discarded and dismissed old methods in favour of revolutionary and life-changing apps to become more efficient and proficient in getting the job done.  

When I graduated from a Nokia phone to my first smartphone, I was excited to see how much time I would save by essentially carrying around a computer in my pocket. However, I gained little time or balance. Instead, I managed to fill all that "free time" with lots of other stuff.

"What we choose to focus on and what we choose to ignore—plays in defining the quality of our life." ― Cal Newport, Deep Work

Technology had reduced the laborious work I had unequivocally accused of robbing me of a life of harmony, but I was still struggling with the backpack of life I had been dealt. It would take reimagining my perception of balance to lighten the load. 

Balance isn't something we buy, and we can't download it. It is something we create. It is assessed and crafted from what you hold personally close to you by identifying what is important to you.

From a physical perspective, balance is paramount to holding ourselves up and moving through this world. I like to create a dynamic but robust and steady Vinyasa practice, with movement executed smoothly and slowly to build appreciation and connection to the breath, body, and mind. Each step is as delicate and mindful as stepping onto a tightrope. Our skill is finely tuned from trial and error, testing where we meet our edges and discovering where we might fall. 

Once off the mat, we can apply that attention to the details in our lives. The first steps to identifying your priorities are checking in and actively assessing the depths of who you are and what you need. You are not just your memories but also the things you think, your experiences, your defences, your traumas, the glories you have lived, the accomplishments you have made, and your choices in life.

These are what make you a whole person. When you embody that for yourself, you appreciate how complicated you are and how complicated we all are. We have a lot of hopes and dreams, pain, anxiety, happiness, and joy, and the self-acceptance of our complexities will integrate the conditions we need to develop authenticity in living a balanced life.

One proven method of accessing this insight has been the practice of mindfulness. Observing the here and now. Who are you at this moment? What are you experiencing right now? Can you feel your feet on the ground? Hear the sounds around you? Can you notice the lighting in the room? Instead of recalling memories or projecting future anxieties, there is a place in this moment that allows you to be just you.

By observing the present moment and getting in touch with our mental and emotional state, we can move forward with the wisdom of knowing our needs and how to attend to them. To achieve balance, we must pay attention to ourselves and respond accordingly. In that place, we have the space to realign and integrate our priorities to feel what it feels like to be balanced fully.

Susie Murray

Susie is a Vinyasa Yoga teacher and qualified in Pilates & Barre. Susie's approach is diverse and rich in dynamic flow. Alignment & balanced energy are consistent points of focus in all her classes to inspire strength, agility, adaptability & flexibility in the body & mind.