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Rev. Sandra Schubert

Up or Down: What is Balance Anyway?
by Rev. Sandra Lee Schubert


When I was a child I spent my summers on Long Island playing endless games with my cousins.  The playground was in short walking distance from their home.  They had the best playground.  It was a wide-open space with all sorts of fun things for a child to play on.  We would have contests for swinging or climbing the highest on the playground equipment.  In those days I was a featherweight and whenever we went on the seesaw I ended up on the high end.  I would bounce up and down but there was no way I was getting my end of the seesaw any lower then sky-high. It wasn’t until I learned to adjust my weight did that advantage shift.  I would move to the end of the plank and found my weight could bring me down.  Not all the way to the bottom but usually it brought the seesaw into balance.  When my younger cousin got on with me we could shift our weight together and we then had a chance to reach the bottom.  Everyone then had the opportunity to go up and down.

Everyday we make choices about balancing things in our life.  Adjustment are made to set things right.  You shift your position in your seat on the bus so you and the other person both have space.  Instead of French fries you choose a salad at dinner.  In the book, Living in Balance: A Dynamic Approach for Creating Harmony & Wholeness in a Chaotic World, authors Joel and Michelle Levey offer the following idea of balance through their description of homeostasis. “Derived from the Greek word meaning,  “to keep the same,” the term encompasses the interplay of all the systems necessary to preserve and maintain the constant conditions of life.”  Somewhere in the world there is chaos.  The continents shift, volcanoes erupt, waves hit.  Despite the outward chaos and even violence of these occasions, the earth is setting herself right.  In our own lives we may feel tossed into such turmoil.  The challenge is finding a way to right the balance in our lives without tumbling completely into disarray.  We need a framework in which equilibrium can be regained.  Today we can strike the right balance.

What does a life in balance really mean for you?  We all have different interpretations on this concept.  A former roommate could not leave the apartment until she found the discrepancy in her checkbook.  The difference could be as small as twenty-five cents but it upset her worldview enough she could not move further.  For others it is the balance of all the factors in life; body, mind and sprit as well as all the external attributes that can add or subtract to a balanced life.

I can’t tell you how to attain balance in your life, but I can offer a few suggestions to get you started.

Fulcrum:  There is a point on which balance is achieved.  Developing inner strength can provide you with the foundation to maintain equilibrium.  What are the internal and external forces that can knock you off balance?  Food can affect us.  Others are tormented by their emotions or an unresolved past.  When you are feeling out of kilter, take the time to evaluate what is going on.  What is making you anxious?  What in life needs tending?

Environment:  In his book, The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles, Steven Pressfield says, the artist must eliminate chaos in order to create.  Purge those things that are in you way.  Are you living in physical chaos that prevents you from finding the table where you draw or write?  Do you want to practice dancing but your space is too small?  What in your physical environment needs adjusting so you can live your best life?  I tend to be a pack rat and accumulate clutter all around me.  A professional organizer once told me that clutter was a representation of the womb.  I was providing a safe space with stuff.  But how else can I create that safe space?  I have taken to shredding the accumulated stuff in my life.  The sound of the shredder reminds me I am clearing a place for my real work.  My mind feels freer to think up new ideas and now I have the space to create.

Body:  A well-maintained body is your best resource for living a balance life.  A poor diet will spin you out of control and its misuse will leave you with little energy for living.  In some practices, such as yoga, tai chi or martial arts you learn to develop a strong and powerful inner core.  Without this core you can be knocked off your feet in seconds.  But any physical activity will bring you in close communication with your body.  You will intuitively know what your body needs and wants to maintain its best health. 

Spirit:  There have been a number of studies that demonstrate a strong spiritual connection enhances your life.  Meditation can increase your focus and help you to feel calmer.  Prayer may give you a sense of inner peace in a stress-filled day.  A healthy spiritual life not only gives you an inner strength but will give you a strong community of fellow seekers who can support you. 

Worldview:  Are you afraid of losing your balance?  Balance becomes this thing that must be attained at all costs.  We become so fearful of becoming out of control that we never take a chance of any kind.  The desire to have a life with no interruptions or chaos is a life lived in a warped state of balance.  It is more an illusion of balance rather then a true one.  A life out of whack may just be a call to creativity.   A martial arts master is able to correct an imbalance immediately.  As we grow strong we are able to manage the disorder of our lives more effectively.  We are called to live fully in life.  Meet chaos head on.  Expand our worldview. 

In the show 30 Days hosted by Morgan Spurlock of Surpersize Me; David Stacy is a young Christian man from West Virginia who spends 30 days with a large Muslim family and community in Detroit, Michigan.  The rules are he must immerse himself in their culture and religion for the time he is with them.  At some point he is in a heated debate with his host family about Islam and terrorism and then there is the call to prayer.  Despite where they are in the conversation they stop and pray together.  After the prayer is over, the heat of the debate has been dissipated and they can go on and have conversation.  Prayer in this instance brought their emotions back to order.  Before he began this 30-day challenge his life seemed in balance; he had a family, work and a strong faith.  He allowed his life to be thrown out of balance to have an experience that would ultimately open his eyes to how other people lived.  His worldview was enlarged and enriched and he had a newfound gratitude for his life the lives of the other. He was able to understand what it really means to live in a country that is supposed to be free for all when you are perceived as the outsider. We don’t live alone.  We are affected by the choices and decisions of others.

I don’t know if we can live a life in true balance all the time. I don’t think that would be interesting at all.  Adjustment and change is part of life.  We can’t have complete control over the outward circumstance of our lives.  But like the martial art master, we can adjust our imbalance immediately.  A healthy balance is a matter of keeping our feet on the ground and eyes wide open. 


Living in Balance: A Dynamic Approach for Creating Harmony & Wholeness in a Chaotic World, authors Joel and Michelle Levey

The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield

© Copyright 2005 Rev. Sandra Lee Schubert.  All Rights Reserved. 

Rev. Sandra Lee Schubert
Rev. Sandra Lee Schubert is an interfaith minister, writer and founder of Wild Woman Ministries and Wild Woman Network a forum to explore and express creativity and spirituality. As a minister and coach, Rev. Schubert helps people discover and unlock their creative potential -- through creating art, producing classes and workshops or just pursuing a life long goal -- and is committed to assisting people in fulfilling their dreams. She also leads workshops and facilitates a popular writing program called the Wild Angels at the historic Cathedral of St. John the Divine.  Her subscription e-course - Writing for Life: Creating a Story of Your Own, is available: http://www.selfhealingexpressions.com/courses.shtml Email:  wwn@wildwomannetwork.com, or visit www.wildwomanministries.org.  212-642-5042




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