How are we finding balance when the comfort and security of certainty disappear in this rapidly changing world? Yesterday’s balance point of truth is shifting as the constant influx of information is added to a mountainous pile already there. The absolutes of right and wrong, yes and no, good and evil, are being questioned, and faith and trust evaporate.
Finding Balance Within Nature’s Simplicity
We can begin finding balance in these chaotic times by taking some moments to look at our great teacher, nature.
Living in the woods, I am in the heart of nature. Nature is always in balance, but not static balance. In fact, living in the woods, the truth of the saying “change is the only constant in life” is played out before my eyes every day.
There is constant change in the woods as light shifts, filtered through the canopy of leaves, or when the sun shifts and the light shines brighter on autumn’s leaf-covered trail. The trees always reflect the seasonal changes, the rotational movement of the earth around the sun. While I meditate on this observance, my mind and thoughts disengage from their rotation and gravity, and the natural world reveals the truth.
Unlike my mind, when it is loaded with competing thoughts of which way should I go with each new truth, the trees simply respond.
The trees themselves shift, though they remain rooted to their place, individual in the space they occupy. Walking among them, I hear their creaking as they sway with a breeze hardly felt on the ground. Some are bent and grow at odd angles balanced between gravity and the sun’s light. So consistent is the sun’s movement, that the trees permanently change their relationship with the sun and their surroundings to gather the best possible light. The trees have a direct relationship with what is, whatever the conditions.
My response to change is not so simple. Balance is often lost – emotionally, mentally, and physically, as I react. However, because I practice meditative balancing, I can quickly acknowledge my reaction, and then I seek to find the balance within.
Meditations I Consider
- The trees are not distracted from reaching for the sunlight.
- Trees remain rooted, solid in their position at their base, flexible, and bending in their height.
- Trees respond to the conditions around them in a direct way.
- The mind is often distracted from intent.
- To grow, one must adjust interiorly to the reality of the moment.
- Emotions are not the same as sensation.
- Change is a universal law.
I reflect that I often get lost in my mind, fleeting emotions, past memories, and external influences. I quickly get pulled away from my desire to remain balanced tipping and toppling through an experience and feel the unbalancing. The more I meditate and focus on feeling the sensation of balance, the easier it becomes to redirect. I am creating a new balance point. Through the work of remaining in balance, I let go of what I cannot control or what is unessential and I find again my equilibrium.
Sometimes, children visit and play on the slackline my husband and I put up in the woods. They move carefully, with a safety line within reach above their head, balancing on a slim ribbon of woven webbing between two trees. As I watch them, I see the seriousness of their focus as if the slack line could be twenty feet high. Yet, only a foot above the ground, they are just as careful placing one foot in front of the other. In this moment, they experience the energy of balance – learning to trust their bodies, to trust themselves.
The balance point alters with each step as their weight shifts. They are learning to be in the process of movement all over again. At first, their mind tells them what to do, and then a moment comes when their body knows.
Eventually, the safety line will be removed, and they will walk with arms outstretched. We might even get a pole to increase their stability. In time, they will learn that the effect of gravity can be analyzed. They will learn why balance is helped by a pole or extending arms. They will even learn the mathematics of weight distribution and rotational stability. But they won’t learn these head facts simply by reading about them – they will experience them in their bodies.
They will feel the movement of the line under their feet. Sensing the effect of a slight movement, a shift of weight, or the impossible act of standing still. Whether inches from the ground or high above, the sensation of balance must be experienced to be known. The experience and practice are felt energetically in the body. The lesson of physical balance deepens their understanding of being in the moment of action.
- Holding onto temporary support is not a permanent way to progress; at some point, you have to let go.
- It is better to practice inches from the ground and become an expert before letting go.
- Meditation can be the practice of embodying sensations, imagining different challenges, and creating a focused purpose.
- How do I create flexibility of movement, giving and adjusting, allowing continual balance.
- Overcompensating creates falls.
- You can sense the energetic flow within your body, shifting, balancing.
- There is a moment when you trust your own ability.
- No one else can walk in your shoes.
- The name of the game is balance.
Life is Change. Change is Living.
There is a fundamental universal law: Nothing is fixed. All that is alive is in the process of changing. Change is seen as exciting when we are young and growing; it is welcomed. We can’t wait to be able to drive a car, to be independent. However, change is often resented or rejected when we see the effects of time on our faces and bodies, as we age. These are physical changes that the eye can capture and share. Other changes are within, and we must be willing to explore to discover them.
Very often as we age, we try to fight change. We fear the uncertainty of it and cling to what we feel is familiar and what we think we know. We defend ourselves, justify our positions and close our minds to any other point of view. This is a dangerous thing, because it can keep us stuck and even break us. It would be so much more helpful for us to open up to change and possibilities for growth and seek to find balance between what we think we know and what we can learn.
What happens when change is accepted?
We loosen our grip on the safety line and find a new balance point. This energy shift is empowering and energizing.
I will not claim to respond like the trees allowing the winds of change to blow through me with as little resistance as possible. Nor will I state that I am always flexible enough to move with the rhythm of the slackline movement, compensating for shifting balance. But choosing “accepting change” as a point of meditation when I am safely a foot above ground on my imaginary slackline allows me to get in touch with the sensation of acceptance. The sensation is then embodied within me. I feel my heart relax, my breathing deepens, and my muscles release their tension. I am mindful of the relaxation of acceptance. Acceptance deepens, expanding my frame of reference, extending my view, and most of all, it allows me to respond to living. The effect is pleasant, an effect I want to repeat. It is an effect that helps me to balance.
- Anything with a beginning has an end.
- All things change.
- Expectations set limits on what I see as possible.
- When I justify or defend an opinion, an idea, or a belief, I am no longer learning.
- Accepting change means to let go of the illusion of control.
- To embody a sensation is to make it mine.
- Checking in on my sensations during the day, helps me to be mindful.
- To accept change is to trust myself.
The Embodiment of the Balance of Meditation
There comes a moment when the experience practiced in meditation takes form. An example of accepting change came to me when all my expertise and work with a student was not helping him. He resented my assistance, and I was not getting anywhere. At first, I found myself wanting to justify what I had been doing. After all, I was following the guidelines given; it was his fault, not mine. . . .
It was only when I recognized this inner dialogue, that I was able change my approach with him. I realized I had not understood what he was saying; while he did not understand what I was saying. . . the circle was complete and closing.
Only by stopping, questioning myself, and reflecting on my thoughts was I able to stop defending and blaming and instead assist effectively. While this incident stands out to me, there are many others throughout the day. Each incident creates an opportunity for adjustment of thoughts as balance is found again. To find balance, I must learn to adjust to change.
- Our thoughts of reality create reality.
- Certain emotions change what we understand and can create a false narrative.
- Emotions are not the same as the energetic sensation of living.
- Balancing our mind, body, and soul allows us to respond to life.
- Acceptance allows growth; denial closes the possibilities of living
- Getting in touch with the energetic sensation of living places us within the moment.
- To see a new direction, we must see where we are.
- Finding a balance point within is to connect with the energy of life.
The Mystery of Acceptance
As I have said, I am fortunate to live in the middle of the woods. The trees constantly reveal the natural balance of flow and energy. By observing and listening to these rooted teachers, I discover mysteries. At this moment, I observe what happened before, but the mystery of “why” remains.
There is a circle of trees by my driveway. I call it a sacred circle. Photos hint at what is seen in person, and words try to describe. A “mother tree” decays in the center of seven younger trees. Two of these young trees share a branch. A branch from one rubbed through the bark of the other, eventually grafting onto the trunk of the neighboring tree. Thus, these two trees are connected not only by their roots, but by a single branch. Standing before them, I cannot tell which of the two had the original branch and which one accepted the irritation and made it a part of itself. It is a beautiful mystery.
The two trees create a balance. Over the years, I have watched them in windstorms, seen snow and ice covering the shared branch, and always the trees simply move with the conditions. They are rooted in the earth, stationary at their base, yet they shift and bend with the changing conditions. The shared connection remains intact.
- There is a life circle. The mother tree is nourishing in her decay. Mushrooms are growing on her bark, ferns, flowers, and most of all, the trees that came from her original seeds are still nurtured by her.
- Everything is in the transition of becoming something else.
- The branch linking the two trees defies logic. I witness its result. It is a mystery.
- The branches and trunks shift, give and take as conditions change they lend balance to each other.
- They are rooted, anchored at the base claiming their space.
- There is constant change. Falling, snapping, new growth, seasons.
Balancing on the Edge of the Sword
In a conversation with a fellow seeker, the question was asked: “How do you know when you are on the right path?” The answer, “When you feel the edge of the sword cutting into your feet.”
Over the years of seeking, I have experimented with many types of meditation. I meditate with a fundamental trust that we are connected through greater awareness to each other. To touch this more expanded view of self, I must be willing to ask, then be silent and allow space to receive a response.
Using meditation as a discovery tool allows connection to what is real. Like the roots of the tree, we discover what nourishes and energizes and what keeps us in balance. The cutting edge. Claim your point of view as just that, a point of view embodied in the cutting-edge life you are living.
Meditation can be as simple as:
Focusing on a sound, feeling the breath move in and out of your lungs, feeding your body. The balance is there as the air taken in and then moves out in a balanced rhythmic fashion. An automatic function of the body is made conscious as the movement is followed and felt. We follow and feel the movement. Focusing as we breathe out, the sensation of the body relaxing. We become more centered with each focused breath. This practice offers clarity in the same way heavier debris in the water settles to the bottom when not disturbed, and then what remains becomes clearer. Another movement to follow is the beating of the heart. The balance of the primordial beat pulsing out, taking in. The flow of life itself.
- Balancing on the cutting edge, living in the moment of change.
- Allowing space within, getting rid of what is not needed.
- Meditation is a mindful state of awareness.
- Anything can become a moment of meditative reflection.
Seeking Inner Balance
To look within self implies a trust that the answer can be discovered within oneself. While we can read uplifting quotes and even blogs, it is an entirely different movement to look within.
I often laugh at the irony of the familiar quote: “I found it in the last place I looked.” Looking within is usually the last place I think to look when I am out of balance. No, I would rather blame. “It isn’t fair!” “They forced me to do it.” “It isn’t my fault.” “Well, everyone else was.” “He/She told me so.”
Taking responsibility for my own balance begins when I respond with curiosity, openness, and a willingness to experience the process of balance. I say it is a process because it is always becoming. It is always potential and movement. We are never going to reach a conclusion.
You are the only one to search within, and you are worth the effort.
Once awakened to the possibility of self-discovery, you will find many resources. While others have gone before you and can point the way, share their story, and their realizations, you must walk the walk, so to speak. You must experience the process of discovery. There are tools that we know assist in this.
Curiosity. Curiosity is a strong desire to know or learn.
- A dear friend was going through a highly stressful time. But there she was, calm and facing the situation. I asked her, “How are you able to manage?” Her response spoke to me deeply. “I am curious how it will all turn out.” This sort of curiosity keeps us open to lessons in challenges. It helps us to keep our balance.
- Looking at life with curiosity. Enables us to learn and be available for surprises along the way. It allows us to experiment with our lives. Our lives are our way of manifesting and making our thoughts, hopes, and dreams real.
- Suspending judgment allows us to step over the yes/no thinking dualism.
- By not judging and remaining open, we allow life to flow through us, revealing many possibilities.
- When we are in a yes/no state, we become fixed and closed. This state of being is not sustainable as we are witnessing globally and, most importantly, we need to maintain our relationship with self and those close to us.
- Listening, not just hearing, but listening from the heart.
- To listen from the heart is a balanced hearing.
- To really listen, I need to create space. This space created by silence is more than not talking. It is included, in me, expanding my view.
- Letting go of convincing. Often what we call sharing a point of view is really trying to convince the other person that we are right. We are the point of view. We think it is who we are.
- Convincing is not growth but remaining in the same place. It is a force we place on ourselves and others. If I am convinced my approach is the only one, I am not listening and feeling. I am forcing.
It is a glorious day today in the woods. I feel your eyes on the words I write and know I value you. You are a gift of life’s longing for itself, and it flows through you as you experience your life. The greatest gift we can offer is the uniqueness of ourselves. I am aware of your presence… Enjoy the journey of you.
About the Author(s)
Libbie is a graduate of Ohio State University where her degree has proven a flexible base for writing, teaching, and exploring life. She facilitates the weekly Sunday eDialogue.