The Point of Balance

From “Zen Cards” by Daniel Levin:

The center is not always the point of balance. When you find that place where Balance is achieved, peace will result in all situations. There is no conflict, for everything rests without strain.

As I read this, I wonder…..then I pick up an un-sharpened No. 2 pencil. I lay it across one finger at its center point and ¬†it falls off. Of course it does. The eraser end is heavier than the writing end. I move its resting point toward the eraser end. It balances.

So what? Well, balance is essential to our wellbeing. Healthy diet, reasonable amounts of exercise, fresh air, sleep, and the meeting of other physical needs keeps the body in balance. Attention to these things benefits our physical wellbeing. Many of these things are also necessary for mental and emotional balance, and thus, wellbeing. Too much sugar and not enough sleep directly affect how we react/respond to daily life. These two things can throw our mental/ emotional balance off very quickly.

I am thinking and writing about these things because I have been assessing my own habits in light changes in my own life. I want to be stronger, more active, continue to learn, grow, and serve. I am finding what works for me and I am inviting you to sit with these ideas now and then and see if you can discern your own needs in ways that create more balance, energy, happiness, and joy for you.

Blessings of Love and LightūüíęūüíĖūüôŹ

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Mental Balance

A balanced mind abides in the present moment.

To abide means to remain, continue, stay, dwell, reside.  The mind only knows now, this present moment.  There is no past or future.  Have I presented another paradox?  If the mind knows only the now then what is going on when I spend an entire day dwelling on past mistakes, losses or disappointments?  What is going on when I spend an entire night in fear and anxiety over future possibilities?  I am bringing the past and/or the future into the present moment and my mind will respond accordingly as will my body and my emotions.

When I abide in the past, whether the memories are filled with joy or trauma, my mind interprets it as happening in the present.  And if I abide in the future, whether I look forward with joyful anticipation or anxiety-filled dread, my mind thinks it is happening right now.  Aside from the physical and emotional responses that are triggered, I am totally oblivious to and missing out on the present moment.

Yes, there are times when the future or the past are appropriately part of the present.  When families get together and share laughter and joy while reminiscing, that is their present moment.  When a young family prepares for the birth of a child months ahead of its arrival, that is their present moment.  These experiences come and go and the attention returns to the beauty of the sky, paying bills on time, or preparing a meal that will be shared lovingly with the family.

The key is developing the ability to abide in the moment.  I come back to each person finding what works for them, what keeps them in the here and now.  For me, when I walk, my intention is to see, hear and enjoy my world.  I watch the sky, listen to the birds, say hi to neighbors and pet their dogs. I breathe the air and allow gratitude for my life, even when at present it is filled with challenges.

Years ago, Thich Nhat Hanh, suggested on one of his tapes to walk very slowly to the phone when it rings.  As you walk, ask yourself if you can be fully present with the person calling.  If you cannot stop what you are doing and be only with that person, do not answer the phone.  Call them later.  (Thich Nhat Hanh is a Vietnamese monk living in exile.  The primary focus of his loving, compassionate teaching is mindfulness.)

The way to begin is to become aware of your own mental patterns.  It is important to embrace this awareness without judgement.  Awareness allows me to accept what I have been doing to avoid the present moment.  Once I accept that I have created these patterns, I can forgive myself if necessary and begin to create new patterns of mental behavior.

For many people, this process is enhanced through counseling with a professional therapist.  I am in this group.  There have been a number of times in my life when therapy was essential to finding and maintaining a healthy mental state of being.  Others need medication in addition because they live with a chemical imbalance of some type that must be treated in order for them to be able to experience healthy thought patterns.  Remember, the physical directly impacts the mental and vice versa.

May you learn to abide in the moment as you discover the balance of body, mind and emotions that allows you to do so.  Peace, tranquility and contentment will follow and also abide with you.

 

Seeking Balance

Human beings are designed for balance.  Homeostasis is the natural mechanism that functions 100% of the time to establish and maintain balance.  It is an automatic and wonderfully complex process.  Mental and emotional balance are part of homeostasis because there is no separation among the body, mind, and emotions. What affects one, affects all Рwhether that effect is toward health and wholeness or dis-ease and imbalance. I can enhance balance by my lifestyle choices, making it easier for my body to achieve balance and wholeness. I can exhaust it when my lifestyle choices undermine the process.

I can raise my own awareness by asking myself these questions:  Am I helping or hurting myself?  What are the patterns in my life?  What do I want to experience? Do the choices I make in any given moment support or undermine my fundamental desires?

Have you known someone who is faced with overwhelming life challenges and yet remains loving, kind and able to find joy in small ways? Do you wonder where they find the strength to go on? Is it possible their level of self-awareness is a major factor?

Have you ever known someone who consistently creates chaos while bemoaning their fate and wishing for a more peaceful, happy life?  Do you wonder why nothing ever goes their way? Is it possible their level of self-awareness is a major factor?

My observation is that both people, consciously or not,  are seeking balance.  What we need to understand is that this balance comes from within our beings, not from the circumstances outside of us. It emanates from our personal choices moment-by-moment. The results f those choices hinge on the level of our self-awareness, our consciousness.

So, if a person is chaotic within themselves, they will manifest chaos outside themselves because, to them, this feels like balance. And they are right. What they experience inside and outside is in balance but this does not create peace and contentment.

If a person is balanced and peaceful within themselves, they will manifest balance and peace outside themselves because, to them, this feels like balance.  And they are right. What they experience inside and out is in balance and it does create peace and contentment.

The¬†difference is that one¬†achieves a¬†healthy balance and one¬†does not.¬† Remember that balance is not a static state.¬† Even the healthiest balance waivers now and then.¬†The question is “What am I creating and how am I living the majority of the time?”

Life is not about perfection.  It is about balance and harmony and wholeness.

Contentment

What is the difference between contentment and happiness?

It is rather simple:  happiness is a response to circumstances outside myself and contentment is a growing or enduring sense of wellbeing and joy within.

I experience happiness when I receive a call from a friend I haven’t spoken with in years or when one of my children or grandchildren gives me a hug or makes me laugh.

I have been growing in contentment for 45 years.  Contentment is that state of being I find in the very core of my being.  Life can be raging all around me but when I stop for just a moment and turn my awareness within I find peace and tranquility.

Where does it come from?¬† I believe it simply is; it is my natural state of being. The process of “finding” it is really¬†trusting that it is my true nature, learning to experience it, and living from that inner peace rather than letting life bounce me off the walls.

Let Life Be Easier

On the opening page of his book The Road Less Traveled, M. Scott Peck says:

Life is difficult.

This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult – once we truly understand and accept it – then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.

What are the illusions that have given birth to your expectations of yourself, others and life itself? Do you believe, somewhere deep inside, that “someday” everything will be perfect? Are you always waiting and hoping for what lies out in the future somewhere?

A young sage once said to me as we walked through a farmers’ market on a crisp sunny morning,

This, this is the essence of life: Do what you love doing. Do it with people you love. And let it be easy.

Sitting on a quiet beach on the Emerald Coast of the Florida panhandle, I watched the gulf waters. The water was so still it looked more like a lake. A few weeks earlier it had raged, sending huge waves crashing across the highway into the small bay behind me. In that moment I realized that water is consistently true to itself whether it is quietly lapping at the shore or ripping into that shore so deeply that it is forever changed. I could see that because water is consistently true to its own nature,  it is able to shape the continents and I was looking at a different Florida coastline.

Life is like that. It is consistently true to itself, ever-changing, relentlessly being what it is. Life ebbs and flows. At times so quiet and peaceful I want this moment to last forever. Other times it rips and tears at the fabric of my being. It dares me to resist its flow, to deny its very nature and, in the process, to deny my own and be taken down and devastated by its storms.

M. Scott Peck is right. The only way to embrace the very nature of life is to accept the reality of its true nature. When I surrender my illusions, I set myself free to ride the waves. World class surfers travel the globe, following storms and ocean surges, looking for the fiercest waves in order to ride them! I want to ride the waves of life with that kind of confidence and openness of mind and heart. Like my young sage, I want to let life be easy.

So when life is a challenge, I sit down and breathe. I breathe slowly and quietly until I remember that this is the nature of life. I am not being punished or tested. Life is what it is. I meditate and pray for guidance. I wait for the inner voice of wisdom. The challenges don’t disappear but they look different to me then. I know that, when this storm passes, the waters of my life will be calm again while I rest and restore my energy.

It won’t be the last storm so I rest in knowing that I am more adept at embracing all of life’s experiences. I seek out the quiet within when everything around me is raging. My own true nature carries me as I flow with life rather than fighting it, even when it hurts.

This moment is enough for me no matter what it contains. Blessings can be as overwhelming as challenges. Looking to some future that may never come is not the answer. This moment is all I have. Whatever this moment contains, I choose to be present in it because I can let this one moment be easy.

Alaska in July

July 2017:  I am on an Alaskan cruise with my gracious, loving daughter. It was her gift to me. A few days before I left the cold sore virus emerged on the left side of my upper lip. By the time we met in Seattle it had spread into the crease of my nose and up to the edge of my left eyelid. That side of my face was swollen and tender; the sores harsh and angry-looking. I knew I would return with few pictures that included me! Vanity be damned; Alaska here I come!

My body required more rest than usual yet I was able to participate in everything important to me…like our whale watching excursion! The following are my brief notes from that experience. I hope you can catch the Essence of the experience.

Humpback Whales – a few minor sightings at first and , almost at the end, one huge Humpback gave us its face, its hump, its power and grace.

When the head emerged straight up, the pleated folds of the underside showed white against its skin and I felt chills running through every cell of my body.

Just the, I would not have traded that moment for any other. I felt myself a privileged Soul.

My thoughts later:

Present & Aware in Every Moment

Ease…..Laughter…..Love…..Bliss

I am Enough

It‚Äôs Been Two Week‚Äôs…?

That’s  right two weeks have passed since my last entry. That was a surprise to me this morning.  But then in the past few days I have totally blanked out a payment I need to make and used a chopstick to attempt thoroughly cleaning out around the lint filter in my dryer. The reason I mention that is because I dropped the chopstick and it slid down underneath the tub of my dryer. So I will make an appointment with my landlady this morning to explain to her what I have done and admit my own embarrassment.  And this is how my “new“ year began.

Fortunately I don’t give much importance to events that are simply part of a calendar people devised in order to be able to communicate with one another.  I reminded myself this morning that other countries and cultures have calendars totally different from ours so a day is simply a day. Time is a linear mental concept and I can allow myself not to be undone by it.

I decided this morning that my “new“ year begins today. And today is a good day because I am present and aware and willing to  be in each moment as it unfolds. Yes, I hope today unfolds with more clarity and simplicity and lack of surprises!  Life is what it is and getting frustrated and overly embarrassed really does not bring me peace and contentment.

Life is what it is and I am who I am. I forget things. I make silly mistakes. I am, after all, a spiritual being currently having a human experience. And human beings are prone to oversights and mistakes because there are no perfect human beings. And knowing that is the key to being perfectly human!

May your day unfold easily and may you know Peace today.