Balance is a state of dynamic tension between forces. When this tension has reached equilibrium, for one moment we can experience profound stillness and peace. This peace cannot be static. Forces eventually shift.
For those who can afford it, “balance” is a virtue that inspires clearer boundaries or more engagement in life, but it also can become yet another stick with which we beat ourselves. Striving for outer balance means we have yoked our capacity for peace upon things that will never be within control. Balancing one’s finances is an important practice and one that will inevitably be offset by some unexpected occurrence: a car breaking down, a medical bill, an impulsive buy.
What feels balanced in this phase of life will not work for another. Sometimes it’s worth putting in the extra two hours of work to guarantee a weekend of relief from concern or feeling that things are undone. Other times, we need to learn to stop ourselves from working and invest energy in play, or family, or cultivating another kind of joy.
Equilibrium is a state of presence. We arrive at deep, responsive, fluid balance by starting within. The heart offers a fulcrum upon which one’s inner state comes to rest. We can bring attention to what is occurring inside, whether it is a storm of thoughts or multiple competing feelings, and we can bring a gentle acceptance and equanimity. If all inner experiences are welcome to occur and subside as they will, space becomes available for deeper attention. We can hold a pose for longer, subtly adjusting our muscles and weight and holding even while parts are screaming that they will go insane if we don’t stop.
Even this equilibrium is fleeting, though with practice we can become better and better at returning to balance when balance is upset. To paraphrase Bruce Wayne’s father in Batman Begins, we lose balance so that we can learn how to regain it.