For many of us when we think about balance, we want to see things as equal. However, when considering balance in our lives, it is important to understand that it is not about equal portions of everything – good/bad, happy/sad, positive/negative – to feel balanced, we typically want more good than bad, more happy than sad and more positive than negative. Why is that? From my perspective and through my experiences, the negative side of things tends to be much heavier than the positive side, so, there needs to be more of the positives to balance out the negatives. For example, for me to feel balance in my relationship with myself, I need to be mindful much more often than absent-minded or stuck in my mind. I try to be mindful about the things I am doing that contribute to me becoming the person I aspire to be – a truly compassionate helper of others and myself. When I am not mindful of this, for whatever reasons; angry at the state of the world, depressed about getting older, focused on my losses, etc., than I am off balance, which opens the door for those ‘hungry ghosts’ to rise up to keep me focused on that negative side of things.
Practicing mindfulness through various forms of meditation, that all use breath control as a foundational skill, is crucial to developing balance, in any area of your life. I have two primary intentions when I meditate. First, mindfulness (or noticing)– focused on this moment and all that I see, hear, feel, and smell. Second, reflection – focused on specific relationship issues, specific questions in any areas of life, my own meaning and purpose in life. This process, simple and straightforward, is nonetheless very powerful – with practice, this process can settle any emotion that threatens to overwhelm and can stop negative thought cycles in their tracks.
My process is as follows:
• Sit, lay, stand, or walk
• Focus attention on deep, slow, diaphragmatic breaths
• Self-talk – breathe in cool and calm, breathe out stress and tension
• Drop down into my safe, relaxed, and calm space in my abdomen
• Continue the breathing and practice my “noticing” or my reflection
This process for me lasts between five and twenty minutes, done multiple times a day – it is not the length of the practice that creates a habit but the frequency. My point of balance is my safe space inside, connected to my observing self – the assessor of all experience.