Saturday, April 5, 2014

Balance



Balance


A favorite topic of mine and a good Facebook friend, and something that affects us all, whether or not we're aware of it. Everything that we sense, think and experience is in a constant state of flux. Nothing remains static for very long, and so the concept of balance is not simply how we manage to stand upright without falling over, but how - successfully or unsuccessfully - we maintain everything else in our lives, including (but not limited to) physical health, mental health, and a sense of mysticism or spirituality.

Many things exist as a continuum - a range or series between two different possibilities. Perhaps not everything fits nicely into a black-or-white, either-or model. There may not be an antithesis for every concept or philosophy, but for the most important and basic things in our lives, the example of a graph or scale works well enough. At one end we have zero, an absence, a vacancy, and at the other end a sense of absolute, or excess or infinity. For simplicity, think of this scale as just ranging from none/very little <--> all/too much.  

Let's apply human sight to the scale. On one end there is blindness. Darkness. And on the other end perhaps photophobia (acute sensitivity to light).  In the middle we would have 20/20 vision, which as you may know is not perfect but merely an average measurement.

Hearing.  One one end, there is deafness. Silence. And on the other, someone with incredible auditory ability, who notices very slight sounds and also those of very low or high pitch. 

Hot and cold. Pleasure and pain. You get the idea. Humans exist and thrive within fairly limited parameters; levels of oxygen, hydration and temperature. But given that - relative physical comfort, sufficient food and atmosphere - we find ourselves scattered on a variety of other scales that constantly affect our sanity and quality of life.

For the purposes of this discussion, I am focusing on one's mental state.  Some people are organized; their home or workspace is fairly clean and uncluttered. Tools - from wrenches to kitchen utensils - are grouped accordingly in some logical way. They can manage time and deadlines. They have no difficulty starting projects. They are usually on time for appointments or meetings, whether business related or social.

Some people are too organized - at least as compared to others. It's called OCD and they are slaves to ritual. Things much be perfectly in order. They check and re-check things constantly. They are preoccupied with symmetry and become upset when anything is out of order. 

And in the middle is a person with a fairly good sense of balance. They know how to find something in their home because it has a place. They're generally not running around in panic mode for any reason. They have learned/achieved a relative mastery of their immediate time and space. And when Life throws them a curve ball they neither fall apart at the seams or go into a freeze mode. They simply adapt to change as best they can and move forward.

Change is inevitable, and how we react to it makes all the difference.

Now, let's move on to one's emotional state, which is not only pivotal to dealing with change, but also affected by change. It would be fair to say that most - if not all - of us endeavor to maintain a state of happiness, or at the very least a state of mind that is not one of total chaos. 

People seek social happiness - relationships. They seek/find another person for a life partner; someone with whom to share life's moments, both good and bad. Obviously a lot of folks have trouble with that; with maintaining a level of peace or at least one of not arguing about something. Roughly, the divorce rate for people 20-25 is 60%. Some people do well living together and others not so much.

People seek object-related happiness - things. Objects. Cars, boats, toys, etc.  We are told this is a dead end; that true happiness is not found in things, but I don't think that's an absolute truth. For example, I enjoy creating music, therefore I like my guitar. I wouldn't say I love it, but I'm fond of it as a tool.  I have more than one of them but I don't have 50 or 100. That would be absurd, unless of course I considered myself a collector, but then, there's the issue of maintenance and storage. I like to paddle and explore, therefore I like my canoe. But otherwise, I'm really not that into things, per se. I'd rather be doing than hoarding, which is at the other end of the scale. For the hoarder, there is never enough stuff, or enough space in which to put it.

My biggest challenge is maintaining a mental balance regarding my reaction to a combination of evil-malice-duplicity-counterfeit. The dark side of Man. Unless we live in a cave without a smart phone, we're exposed to it daily, almost constantly. It would be possible to ignore a lot of it - don't watch, read or listen to any kind of current events and adopt an attitude of insouciance. It don't affect me personally.  But I cannot totally subscribe to that state of mind. I am not an island. One way or another, I am part of a larger society, like it or not. What happens to other people does affect my mood - injustice, discrimination, etc. 

On the other hand, I don't make a hobby out of the news. I've known a few people like that; they were almost glued to news channels of all media. I don't need to be that plugged-in to what's happening.

Some days, for me, there's an overwhelming tidal wave of stupidity. Some public figure will say something so ludicrous, so totally disconnected from reality that it literally makes my head spin. And rather than going in one ear and out the other, it lingers in my brain like a Mobius strip of insanity, and I try to make some kind of sense out of it, in terms of how does a person come to think-say-believe something that deranged?  And, of course, that's never successful or fruitful, but it has the ability to lock-up part of my thought process, such that I can't effectively deal with other considerations. It's like a wrench in the works.

Lots of folks find that taking a walk or getting some air is an effective antidote to moments like the above. That's fine when it's not freezing and blowing outside. We do live where winter gets real.

So, during the colder months of the year, I need to find other ways to maintain that mental and emotional balance. Just lately, I've decided that a combination of yoga and meditation - not at the same time - can provide the buffer, the disconnect, the path to the balance I seek. Physically, I need stretching to maintain flexibility, especially when I can't be outside doing activities like gardening, paddling, hiking, etc. Also, it's important even while I'm doing those things. But since mental tension can translate into muscle tension, yoga is essential. We already practice mutual therapeutic massage, so yoga is only a logical extension of that. At previous locations, we used to have both a sauna and hot tub. Presently, we have neither, but we do have almost free access to same.

And the meditation provides that more mental-emotional counteragent that helps me uncouple from the dark side and just hit my body's reset button.

It's not important to me to try to maintain a constant state of balance or nirvana. I don't think that's necessary or realistic. I'm not interested in maintaining a constant state of cool.
I just need an effective way to reboot, and the combo of yoga and meditation, combined with my marital relationship and my music, seems to be working pretty well.

3 comments:

  1. Yes:) I love both yoga and meditation, and I can't imagine life otherwise. I recommend them both to people pretty much daily, and I am really very saddened when people think they can't do it, or don't even try. And I can't push it harder, as I don't like having things pushed on me...but I do think they are missing out.

    For me the most important part of meditation is mindfulness. Acknowledging feelings without letting them overwhelm or harm me. I think this would apply to your angst over current affairs and the crass stupidity that exists in our world. There is a phenomenon, especially as we get older, of thinking it has never been this bad before, and it must surely be the end. This apparently happens to every generation, and has been doing so since recorded history. So I take comfort in that. :)

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  2. I am also a big fan of Balance, and admire your blog very much. It touches on the many aspects, and maybe struggles, associated with balance in our life. I am also on the yoga/meditation/mindfulness road, and always find it beneficial in our ever-present Now.

    I am learning that there is even balance (little B) to Balance (larger B). As you've pointed out, many things lie on a spectrum. Given the overall arc that consists of the time we are alive, it makes very good sense that those on the farther end of the human time spectrum do get the right to earn an opinion, or expectation or two.

    Then again, we are timeless beings, so maybe I'm getting to the point where I can look forward to the next phase of existence, whatever that happens to be. ~Blessings! :)

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    1. Thank you for reading and commenting.

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