In yoga we talk about balance a lot. Often literally, we're trying to balance on our head, balance on one leg, balance our breath. There's a lot of balancing going on. And on the surface, balance sounds good, doesn't it? Who doesn't like the idea of being even, balanced, consistent, being able to control their emotions and feelings and life in a stable way (and of course being able to confidently to stand on one leg as a bonus)?
Well, I'm not sure balance really exists in the way we want it to. I think we can feel balanced. I think we have moments of feeling in control, of feeling like things are in order, that we're going with the flow, and these moments do feel good, but life at some point is going to feel out of balance because we're not really in control.
The good job that makes us happy? We could lose it, or it might change and start to make us unhappy, or we might have to move, and leave it behind. The relationship that fills us with joy? Same deal - love has to be allowed to change, shift and grow, and sometimes this means that relationships also change, shift and grow, whether we like it or not.
If we believe balance comes from good job plus nice house plus good social life and a good relationship to boot, we're separating out all the pieces of our life to pretend we have control over them, when all we really have is control over ourselves.
If we try to cling onto the idea of balance, in exactly the same way we may try to cling onto the ideas of happiness, peace, or anything else, then we instantly create tension around it. And as soon as tension arises, what happens? Dis-ease, unhappiness and certainly not any feelings of balance.
Learning to find internal balance is possible. Understanding your thoughts and feelings, acknowledging your life's story so far, and learning to love and accept yourself exactly the way you are is one of the best ways to find mental stability. Those external things we're all taught to seek, because they make us happy? They are out of our control. The internal landscape? That's one thing we have more control over.
Balance is something that has evaded me. I have swung from pillar to post on the rollarcoaster of emotion. Throughout my 20s I had huge highs (travelling through New Zealand in a camper van with a good friend feeling completely true) and huge lows (when a relationship ended, and I realised I was unhappy with my job, and my life in general). I can see how the imbalance of my life can be seen in my body - a weak left ankle, pronated left foot, and subsequently a much weaker left side. Yoga helps me to address not only the physical imbalance in my body, but also helps me to create emotional and mental balance.
Does balance exist? Shut your eyes, listen to your breath, and find out.