The balancing act (of life)
Practising Question 1: “How do you respond when balance is lost in life?”
“Balance” has been a tricky concept for me since my childhood. I grasped it very well intellectually, and almost found joy in putting things in equilibrium and watching the end game of how it comes all together : on paper in mathematical terms, while tidying up my space and even while walking on uneven pavements of my hometown.
In practice, though, I somehow embraced the idea that if you are very passionate about a goal, or you’ve dedicated yourself to a purpose larger than life, things need to be OUT of BALANCE.
This might be related to what I saw inside my own home. My dad was working most weekends as he felt the full responsibility of what could happen on the factory floor and if not, he was making sure he does all the shopping before the 2.5 hour trip to our summer house for the weekend. I heard no excuses on why he can not host family and friend this weekend, or why the production of boxes and packaging could well be handled without his support and supervision. This was balance ‘on his terms’ : An impeccable work ethic and doing whatever it takes to make his family happy.
As years went by, I became a young soul craving to taste and experience more of what is out there in the world, I felt a tendency to look for, enjoy and get lost in anything INTENSE. Whether it be a political debate or discovery of great art, I was always after the wow effect. Ultimate highs and miserable lows. You can imagine how this played out on my teen relationships: grand illusions and devastating revelations, sometimes after months and years of escaping the reality.
And, this mode of perception explains why I loved quotes like this one. Iwould read it again and again to fully immerse myself in the meaning: with the hope of experiencing a new high after a few months of hermit mode Safak.
“Something is always born of excess: great art was born of great terror, great loneliness, great inhibitions, instabilities, and it always balances them.”
― Anais Nin
My belief in every new project being ever so important, and every exciting connection becoming the next extraordinary love story took me to so many places. Each one encouraged such diverse ideas and kindled such precious emotions that I’m thankful for.
However, in the last few years, I had to recognize the zigzag path of my moods, my diet and exercise patterns and my relationships called for balance.
It was time for ACCEPTANCE.
Acceptance that I can not go on with this intensity.
That I had to pause. That pausing is not GIVING UP.
That my body, mind and soul needed to be nourished and nurtured. First and foremost, by Safak herself and then by the closest to me.
That slow and steady wins the race. And most importantly, that I DEFINE the race. OR there’s no race when you are on a journey you’re feeling good about.
As a close friend responded to the question I raised for this piece: By accepting that it is OK to have imbalances in life.
Acceptance is definitely a good response to start with, but does not provide a map for HOW to actually move towards balance. The acceptance softens the strong resistance of our previous behavior and ways of thinking. It brings a fresh motivation, a physical and mental energy to take action and a sort of eagerness. This eagerness to find a way gets you to experiment till you feel slightly better balanced.
Sometimes, it’s less midnight chitchats and more yoga & meditation. At other times, it’s reshuffling what you eat, what you watch and who you spend time with. When there’s also a sense of getting stuck in imbalance, it is a digital detox and a ticket to the retreat destination. After a life changing event, it is travelling inside yourself for several weeks before you can choose which path is next.
I have no claims to being yet another Instagram personality on life hacks, so I will not share an exhaustive list or nudge you towards so called ‘high impact’ coaching programme. I’ll leave you with what resonated with me:
- What works for you is crystal clear when you practice. And if it does not, it is fine to move on and find another route.
- All of these practices have something in common: they inspire you take a break from the struggle and relax into feeling the goodness inside you. It is not chasing performance or happiness but opening our eyes to what’s already restful and joyful there.
The more I reflect on where balance is shaken and recovered in life these days, I realize that this is an essential theme for my journey. Everytime my balance is lost, the next move of my body after the struggle feels like another level ahead of where I’ve been. The next time my foggy mind clears up, the peace is deeper than ever. The expansion continues.
I’ll continue writing on balance. I would be SO grateful to receive your take on what balance means to you and how you find your way around it.