I’ve been thinking about balance and imbalance. We just passed the equinox when the day and night are of almost equal length all over the planet. And we entered the sign of Libra, symbolized by the scales.
At the same time, the world is so topsy-turvy right now, so out of balance in many ways. War. The environment. Wealth distribution. What we value in the dominant cultures. To name just a few. There is much change, stress, loss, and uncertainty. It’s not easy on the body, mind, or heart.
So, I’m thinking about how to create and maintain balance in my life. And how to regain it when I get thrown for a loop. And how to help you do the same.
We all need practices that we are familiar enough with that we remember to use them when the going gets tough. It can make all the difference in the world to your health and well-being, your outlook, and your resilience.
Below I share three key tools that will help you have more balance, ease, and flow in your life. No matter what is happening. But first. . .
What’s Threatened My Balance This Year
I’ve had huge losses piled one on top of the other this year. I made the wrenching decision to leave my spiritual community of the past 22 years, a community through which I have had many of the most important and transformative experiences of my life.
Very shortly after that, my spiritual mentor and dear friend died, leaving me bereft of a deep source of guidance and healing I have relied on for 22 years as well.
And at the same time, we learned we had to leave the house we’d been renting for the past five years, a place we poured our heart and soul into, especially into the gardens. And we had to find a new place in a terrible rental market.
We were blessed to find a lovely home, but it’s been a big jump in rent, which is not easy amidst the insane inflation of everything.
And then my friend Curt died.
Suffice it to say, I’ve had my share of challenges this year. And I imagine you’ve had yours.
How I Maintain and Regain Balance
Most of the time, I’ve done astonishingly well. Sometimes, I feel just awful, completely down in the dumps, triggered, or stressed beyond belief.
So, how do I maintain my balance in tough times? And how do I regain it when I get knocked off? I’ll share three powerful practices with you.
As you read these, please remember that balance is not a static, idealized state of perfection. It is a dynamic movement, swaying between poles, dipping first one way and then another. We make myriad little adjustments in order to stand upright. The goal is not to never lose our balance. We learn instead to cultivate a fluid, ever-shifting dance and to regain our balance when we lose it.
The number one tool to rely on for creating and regaining balance is breathing. Deep slow breaths.
This can be as simple as taking three big deep cleansing breaths and letting them out with a big ahhh or sigh. Breathing in light and space and ease on the in-breath. And then letting go completely on the out-breath. Try it now.
When you take a deep breath, the vagus nerve stimulates your body’s relaxation response. Blood pressure lowers and so does your heart rate and your brain calms.
Here are a couple of breathing techniques that can be helpful.
Gradually increase the length of your breath until you are breathing in for a count of six or seven, and out for the same amount.
Or try the “box breath,” also called “rhythmic breathing,” which is breathing in for four counts, holding the breath in for four, breathing out for four counts, and holding the breath out for four. Repeat either of these for several minutes.
You can also do “circle breath,” where you breathe in and out in long, slow, deep, and steady breaths with no breaks, hitches, or catches. I like to visualize the in-breath coming up the back of my spine and over the top of my head, and then on the out-breath, flowing down the front of my body.
2. Earthing and Being in Nature
By now most of you have probably heard about the positive effects of what the Japanese call “forest bathing.” Any kind of time spent outdoors in nature (it doesn’t have to be a forest) can help restore our sense of balance, peace, well-being, and wonder. It lowers our stress levels, can ease depression and promotes health. (A few studies are listed here: https://globalwellnessinstitute.org/wellnessevidence/forest-bathing/)
I start my day by being outside in my garden for 20- 30 minutes. I also do some gentle movements with my bare feet on the earth. This is called Earthing, and it also works on concrete, bricks, or stone, but not asphalt.
Earthing releases the excess buildup of free radicals in the body, reducing inflammation in the body and increasing your energy levels. It is also said to improve blood flow and sleep and even slow down the aging process. You can read more benefits of earthing here: https://www.gethealthyandgrounded.com/blogs/articles/20-benefits-to-earthing
During my work day, I will take 5-minute breaks to walk outside and reset myself.
3. Spiritual Practice and Connection
Whatever your beliefs or traditions are, cultivating spiritual connection and regular spiritual practices are unbelievably helpful in challenging times. My daily prayer and meditation practice is the anchor of my day. I also sit by the fire outside on or near the new moon and full moon, the solstices and equinoxes, and have other practices to foster connection.
Find the practices that resonate with you and work for you. Whether chanting or prayer or meditation or some other form of regular practice. The key is to make it a habit. That’s when you reap the biggest benefits.
I hope these three core tools help you find more balance through these topsy-turvy times. I’d love to hear from you about what else helps you create and maintain balance in your life.
To your fluid balance,
P.S. The monthly Creativity Igniter I shared with my patrons just this week was around Balance. If you’d like to read that and all the other great things I share with my patrons, please join me here. It helps me keep doing the work I do in the world.