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May/June 2007

Back to Balance

Jeffrey Mindell

The Buddha was big on balance: he called it the middle way.  I’m not Buddhist, and can’t say I know much about it, but that wisdom has always rung true for me.  Finding balance has become a recurring theme in my life.  In fact, the older I get, the more attuned I am to feelings of imbalance.

It’s actually pretty easy for me to tell if I am out of balance when I pay attention to my feelings.  If I eat too much junk food, my stomach hurts and I feel sick.  My body is out of balance.  If I have a fight with a friend and don’t resolve the issue, I may feel angry and cranky.  My emotions are out of balance.  If I spend too much time working and focusing on money, and not enough time meditating or connecting deeply with the people I love, I begin to feel agitated and disconnected.  My spirit is out of balance.

As easy as it is to recognize and correct my imbalances when they occur, I often find that I ignore them until they boil over.  Recently, I was ignoring a whole host of imbalances for a period of several months.  I wasn’t eating well, I was watching TV instead of meditating, and I was much too focused on work and not enough on connecting with loved-ones. 

The amazing part was that slowly I began to forget what it felt like to be in balance, and imbalance became my new normal.  I began to get used to feeling agitated and having a body that was regularly expressing its dissatisfaction with my eating habits.  I even started to believe that there was nothing I could do about these issues because, “life’s tough” which loosely translates to, “I’m a victim, and don’t try to take my misery away from me.”

Fortunately, a whole series of events conspired to wake me from my slumbering and imbalanced ways, and I started to take several steps towards re-balance.  I hit all the main imbalance points head on.  I ate better, started meditating again, sought advice on some lingering emotional issues, and got a few good books from the library.  In a matter of days the difference I felt on all levels was drastic, and now balance and calm once again feel like my new normal.

I have learned that living as a human being on planet Earth means that there are always going to be temptations and bumps in the road that create imbalance.  It’s simply not possible to steer clear of all pitfalls, but with regular maintenance I think it’s pretty easy to spot where we’ve veered off course, and with some good old-fashioned will power, get back on track once again. 

Which reminds me, I need an oil change.

Jeffrey Mindell is a writer, poet, cartoonist, attorney and all around nice fellow.  He can be contacted at jmindell@gmail.com

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