What Exactly Is Balance?

"Left! Right! Right again, HARD! Left!"

The guide for your whitewater rafting trip calls out for you to paddle. He is practically screaming over the sound of the raging river. The water is splashing on your faces as you navigate through the turbulence.

Suddenly, there’s a big drop, and for a moment it seems that all will be lost. The bow of the little raft shoots up, and feet go in the air. Then, with a thud, the raft comes back down. Luckily, it lands right-side-up. You regain balance, reposition yourselves in the raft, and continue your adventuresome ride.

In Whitewater Rafting Balance Is Everything, And So It Is In Life

Nothing feels more scary than losing your balance in a fast moving river. The consequences can be dire. Head injuries, broken bones, or even death. When you’re in the river your life depends on your ability to maintain balance.

And the same holds true for life. When the river of life hits turbulent times, we’ve got to maintain balance somehow. Our sanity depends on it.

What Is Balance?

We know balance by the way we feel inside. There is a recognizable steadiness when we’re in balance. There is a genuine sense of safety. A sense of easiness, knowing that we’re OK. It’s the opposite of imbalance, which feels like stress and fear.

So What Causes Balance And Imbalance?

Fighting with reality causes imbalance. And adjusting to reality causes balance. Balance is always in relation to reality. If you fight the river, you capsize. It’s as simple as that.

This is because reality is bigger than us. So when you fight you start to lose your balance. And to make matters worse, there’s an additional problem.

Reality Is Always Changing

Just like a raging river, life is always changing from moment to moment. Paddling to the left one moment creates balance. And the next moment continuing to paddle left could kill you. It is constantly changing.

In other words, balance is not a static thing. It’s not a one time deal. It’s not like, "Oh, I think I’ll get balanced, and then my life will be great." You can guarantee that as soon as you get your life balanced, reality will have shifted again and you’ll need to change your direction once again to create balance.

Sounds Hopeless, Right?

Maintaining balance in a fast changing river might sound difficult. But only if you are unwilling to keep changing with reality. If not, it’s just a matter of following the simple directions that life gives you.

What makes us unwilling to adjust to this ever-changing reality sometimes? Sometimes it’s just laziness. And sometimes it is because we believe that we are right and reality is wrong. We think that life should be different than it is.

And so we fight with reality. And we lose.

So How Do We Maintain Balance In This Ever Changing Reality?

There are many strategies for gaining balance. This is not the only way. But I find it to be a very effective means.

First of all we have to notice when we’re out of balance. We have to pay attention to our stress. And then notice the thoughts that are holding up that feeling of stress. And finally, question those thoughts.

This Is Called The Work Of Byron Katie

It’s a simple process. But why does it work?

It works because it gets you to give a very honest assessment of the state of your imbalance. Only you can assess this. Writing a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet for example is an amazing way to get the details of the painful state of your imbalance on paper.

And it works because it takes that honest assessment of imbalance and very gently brings you to a place where you can consider the opposite of what you believe.

Maybe You Believe You Should Turn Right

And the river of life says, "Turn left."

You fight it by thinking, "I want to go right." Your life starts to go out of balance because of your unwillingness to adjust to the ever-changing course of life. You feel the stress.

The Work gently gets you to look at your thinking, "I want to go right." And to notice how much imbalance it brings when you believe it. How much it makes you fight against life. And how much more balanced you would be without that thought.

The Work invites you to consider the opposite of what you believe.  Could the opposite be as true or truer?  It expands your mind to consider the possibility that maybe going along with reality, instead of fighting it, might actually work better for you.

In This Way The Work Gently Brings You Back To Balance

It frees you up to paddle right again when you see that continuing to paddle left would only make things worse. It helps you pay attention.
 
And when you’ve gone too far right, you’ll feel it again. Then, if you’re stubbornly attached to paddling right, The Work can open your mind to consider going back to the left again, just for the sake of balance.

You start to paddle left, right, left in an appropriate manner. You become alert to the ever-changing flow of the river.

As You Culture This Alertness, You Start To Catch The Imbalance Earlier And Earlier

So there’s no need to go careening out of control. That’s when rafting starts to be fun. When you know how to maintain balance through the roughest waters.

In fact, when you get good at it, you start searching out rougher and rougher water to test and refine your skills. When you’ve been doing The Work for a while, you get excited by turbulent times. You love the adventure of those class V rapids. Because you know how to come back to balance even if you completely flip out of your raft.

If you want to practice finding balance on a more regular basis, I invite you to subscribe to my weekly “Work As Meditation” newsletter. You’ll get tips for deepening your practice of The Work, and samples of mine and some of my client’s work to keep you inspired.

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