3 Apr 2015

Mental-Emotional-Spiritual (and Physical) balance - Part 1 - What is balance?

What is balance?

I guess throughout my life I have been quite lucky as no matter what experiences I have gone through, I seem to have naturally been able to maintain some kind of balance, a level-head , and to be relatively constantly at peace with myself.

As I got older, and as life (family, career, etc.) has taken a more and more demanding role, however, I have noticed that maintaining some kind of equilibrium becomes less and less natural, and takes more and more effort.

For example, in the past year alone this “natural” unflappability has been shaken to the ground a good few times, which have required concerted endeavours to restore to an acceptable level of composure.

Obviously being older and wiser has no meaning unless we learn to analyse and discern why things happen in life, and take opportune action to remedy whatever requires resolution. It must be noted that steps can only be taken after reflection, and once a degree of will power is gained. Without the latter two, it is almost guaranteed that anything we chose to do will lead to failure. As such, it will contribute to whatever sense of dissatisfaction, sadness, and even depression we may already be experiencing.

This article is intended to share what has helped me, and still works for me in my times of need. Although I have noticed, when sharing these ideas with other people, that they have been useful to them too, it is in no way intended to provide a solution that will work for anybody or everybody else’s. Particularly if action is not preceded by contemplating one’s own situation, and mustering the willpower required to undertake the activities discussed here.

So how does one achieve (and maintain) a Mental-Emotional-Spiritual (and Physical) balance?

It is probably best to start by assessing what balance is. Balance is stability.
Sometimes it's easy to maintain balance

As the image on the left shows, if we add something on one side, we need to put something on the other side too to retain that parity. Similarly, if we take something out of one side, we need to either remove something on the other side also, or add something else to the side where we removed that something.

As a practical example, let us look at the "life-work" balance. If hours of work, or stress (for instance) increase in one's work life, i.e. something is added to one side of the scale, one needs to compensate on the other side. Something like extra sleep at the weekend, spending quality time with loved ones (over-eating or over-indulging is certainly not be recommended as it would likely tip the scale even further by adding weight to the wrong side!) can actually restore the equilibrium.
Sometimes it's difficult to maintain balance

The situation, however, becomes a little more complicated on a 4-ways scale. As shown in this other picture to the right, it is easy to see how delicate the equilibrium is in such a situation. Just the smallest change in any of the four plates can throw balance into disarray and take considerable effort to counterbalance.

We are somewhat more fortunate in real life than the example in the picture, as the four Mental-Emotional-Spiritual (and Physical) states are much more closely intertwined then in the picture. Often taking action focused on one of the aspects will also help with the other three.

Another practical example: let us say one has an argument with their boss. They become angry, the heart start pumping, stress become all but too evident, feel tired and definitely upset. Now that person goes to a friend, and talks about their problem. If the friend is receptive and supportive, the blood pressure will lower, the head will cease to throb, and will feel more at peace with themselves.

It is easy to see how one single action, talking to the friend, actually touches on all four Mental-Emotional-Spiritual (and Physical) states.

Obviously if we just talk about a fight with one's boss, restoring one’s composure can be relatively simple.

What happens if what is affecting the balance is more long-term and deep-rooted? Something like abuse, neglect, losing one's job, or home, or anything that a simple chat with a caring friend cannot resolve?

As this is now becoming a long article, I will discuss that point in my next one; please keep reading by using the links below.

Articles in this mini-series:

  1. What is balance?
  2. What does Mental-Emotional-Spiritual (and Physical) balance mean?
  3. What if we lose, or never gain this balance?
  4. Got balance? Time to help others

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