Updated: Jan 26, 2019
I am a bit of a skeptic when it comes to the idea of finding balance. Between my friends, co-workers and myself, the b-word (*ahem* balance) gets dropped regularly. Every time I hear the word, it comes with a sense of guilt and displeasure which has me wondering if the “need for balance” is the very thing that strips us of the joy and ease we are searching for.
What if striving for balance is actually more frustrating than it is supportive? I believe greater ease and resilience is possible for our lives. And I suggest that there is another perspective that supports a sense of ease that is more interesting than balance alone and it is rhythm.
Before I dismiss balance let’s first break down what it actually is. Balance is used to describe physical objects that are still. It is defined in the Oxford Dictionary as, “an even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady.” While this steadiness is important there may be more to the picture.
We, humans, are objects in motion and even when we have mastered a skill like walking, we are still oscillating between extremes. In a post by Conor Neill, he points out, “When we walk we aren’t in balance. We fall to the left, we fall to the right.” To Neill’s point, we are constantly calibrating, even if it is in less noticeable ways that give off the appearance of balance.
To help illustrate this point there is an interesting simile, which includes a bit of science, suggesting there may be more to life than just balance. The HeartMath Institute is a research group focused on researching the heart and wellness practices. When looking at the heartbeat as it goes up and down, researchers found that in the breaks in between the heartbeat there is a pause in which the most information is sent from the heart to the brain.
To connect this to our lives, as we go through ups and downs in life, if we take a pause there is valuable information available to us. To describe this visually, looking at the heartbeat, it is clear this rhythm is really important for life and if we always had balance, that would look like one flat line, or in other words lifeless. The oscillations between ups, downs, and pauses suddenly become a beautiful and important part of our lives. Seeing the value of this rhythmic pattern, the question then becomes are we interested in the information available to us, and if so are we willing to pause to see it?
Looking at the heartbeat and seeing this pattern as rhythmic has been a relief for me. When I hit a high or low, I am reminded that ups and downs are a normal experience full of interesting information. Of the many varieties of rhythms we experience, each is creating a beat that is unique and unpredictable. As life unfolds, we can choose how we dance with the information available in these ups and downs. The dancing and oscillating is what is within our capacity to create and practice.
While balance may be an aspect we experience at times, to always be in balance would become quite bland. The ease and resilience we seek is found in the skills of pausing, dancing and oscillating. So the next time you think, “I need to get things in balance,” I hope you are reminded of rhythm.
Committed to helping you find your unique dance, coaches can support your search for a life filled with more ease and resilience. To learn more about the benefits of coaching reach out to Eric or Megan for a Discovery Chat. :)
Megan Beliveau, this weeks guest blogger, works as a Training and Development Specialist and Coach for a crisis line in California. In her free time she loves spending time in the outdoors while imagining a world where communities are resilient and prosperous.