Almost everyone I know or who I have met that is in some way involved in spirituality or eastern traditions has come across the concept of balance. More often than not what I tend to hear about is the Buddhist concept of the ‘Middle Way’. The middle way is the idea that we must have moderation between indulgent and abstinent activities but the idea of balance can extend far beyond that of how much one should or should not indulge in sensual pleasures. I feel, especially with what seems to be a rising interest in new age concepts, it is wise to take a step back and not let any spiritual path or practice become a personal religion where the existence of other ‘truths’ are discarded before being given any sort of chance.
Personally ,and for a quite a period of time, I veered on single extremities found in spirituality and sometimes I admit, I still do and it tends to show through in my yoga practice where I am for the most part able to contort myself into the strangest positions (okay so not really) but for some reason still can’t just stand up on one leg. The lesson I’ve learnt in this journey with ‘spiritual extremism’ is that concepts such as positive-thinking , believing everything is always perfect as well as the other side of the coin (ie: shadow work as just one example) can be destructive to our spiritual, or more practically, personal growth. This is especially true when we take these ideas as single truths that have no complementing opposite.
It may at first glance seem contradictory or perhaps even dissonant but the more deeply I delve into myself I find that most and perhaps all ‘truths’, although seemingly opposite, are completely correct and yet completely wrong in almost insanity-driven, paradoxical sense. From my experience, reality seems to be paradoxical at its very core and the way I have learnt to integrate and exercise the ability to embrace all sides is to take a balanced approach towards everything.
Taking it one step further, I think its important to realize that even balance has it complimenting ‘shadow’ side, obviously being imbalance, which can be used to create astounding and deep changes within our lives just as much as balance itself. Sometimes we need to lose our balance in order to follow what will eventually become a more fulfilling path that is more in line with our own inner truth. Maybe we need to quit that job we hate but we are not entirely sure where the next paycheck will come from, maybe we need to leave that relationship that is no longer serving us or maybe we need to jump into a new relationship that we don’t feel entirely ready for.
The trick to this is knowing when to maintain, find and lose balance. The most simple way to do this is to practice methods which connect us to that vast pool of unconditional love within ourselves where deep wisdom lies, and very importantly to find the courage to act on that wisdom. Our confusion with regards to any choice or struggle we may encounter could perhaps be rooted in the idea that our minds are the ones who need to make the decisions and that furthermore, we do not already know what it is we need or which direction to take.
“To lose balance sometimes for love is part of living a balanced life”-Eat, Pray, Love
If I were personally to list anything as the most important activity within a spiritual life,although this can be contested, it would be to go beyond the mind and connect to that divine part of ourselves. Then, very importantly, to tap into the courage in order to act on this endless resource of intuitive knowing which is always there and has never left.
“If you cannot move forward in peace, stand still in silence-when the silence begins to sing move with the song”-HeatherK. O’Hara
Here again though, I would like to reiterate the concept of balance. It is not necessarily the greatest idea to completely lose the mind (although there may be moments when you do and when it is necessary) but to rather use it as a servant to this inner wisdom.
One of the most tiring yet rewarding practices I have encountered on this path, is integrating the never-ending paradoxes which are abound in and outside of ourselves, if there really is any difference between the two.