The Importance of Balance

Shakti - Zeng Hao
‘Shakti’ by Zeng Hao

The chapter that I have just finished working on is about the importance of balance between the body, mind, heart and spirit. In my experience there are few things more frighteningly dull than a person who has focused on one aspect of him/herself and and developed it to the exclusion of all else. There is something wrong with a person like that, we can feel it straight away. Although most of us are not in this category, many of us have areas where we favour, where our natural strengths lie – and other areas where we find things a tad more challenging, which might be a little neglected.

In my own life, I am naturally a person who gravitates toward the mind and the spirit. I love education, learning and intellectual pursuits, and have always been fascinated with spirituality and all things esoteric. For example, I decided at the age of 8 that this would be my last life here, thank you very much, and that in order to make that happen I was just going to have to reach enlightenment before I die. No problemo.Β I have always been a good student with an analytical and questioning mind. I preferred reading to a party any day (in fact, I still do). It wasn’t until I was in my mid-20s that I realised that I was neglecting my body and heart in favour of my spirit and mind, and that something needed to be done. As I have grown up, there have been certain keys Β which have unlocked doors that were inaccessible to me. Yoga was the first key – it connected me with my body while satisfying my need for spirit. Motherhood, deep friendships and a long term relationship spanning decades were (and are) very important for opening my heart, as is working with children. Here, I can combine my love of education with the heart enrichment that young children bring. It may be that the best way to convert a weakness into a strength is to combine the two.

We have been taught in our culture that our mind is uppermost – thus, Descarte’s philosophy: I think, therefore I am, and a mechanistic approach to things that are not machines, like nature, our bodies, our emotions and relationships. We tell ourselves that our mind is what separates us from the animals and it is our intelligence which makes us special, which may even be true. However, there are some problems with a mind-centred philosophy. A mind that is un-anchored in the body, disconnected from the heart and severed from spirit is a frightening thing. We call people like that psychopaths. There is more to life than reason or rationale, and not everything can be detected with the five senses or understood with the information that we have. The mind does not comprehend mystery, which is a limitation, especially on the spiritual path.

The same pathology can be seen in any kind of extreme imbalance. Think about a person whose heart is disconnected to their mind – they have a frightening lack of discernment, and will often find themselves in dangerous relationships or situations, repeating the same mistake over and over again. Or what about someone who is completely body-focused? They are vain, shallow and dull, constantly on diets, strict health regimes and obsessed with youth and how they look. And then there are the people who are consumed with the spiritual life. They are un-grounded, disconnected to their earthly experience and unable to participate in life.

In the way of the Practical Mystic, we bring all the parts of ourselves together, honouring each part and loving what each of them brings to us. No one part is more important than any other, although there are situations where one will be more useful than another. Each of us will have an area that we are naturally strong in, which is perfectly natural. It is good to be aware of your strengths, just as it is good to be aware of the areas that need more attention.

Which aspect of yourself is the strongest, and which tends to be a little neglected?

32 comments

  1. Now you really have me wondering… I think perhaps everything is equally lacking, so does that mean I’m balanced? It’s a very hard evaluation to make about oneself. Well said, however!

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    • That’s true I suppose Ardys – the way that I have explained it my book is to create a chart of all my daily activities and the time spent doing them. Next is to categorise those activities as body, mind, heart or spirit – or some kind of combination. For example, your photography is creative, so nourishes the heart, requires skill so nourishes the mind, often has you out in nature, so nourishes the spirit, and nourishes the body because you are walking. So under photography, I would tick all the boxes – I call that winning – and so many creative pursuits cross boundaries like that, which is why they are so valuable. Does that make sense?

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  2. Great topic! I tend to be in my mind a lot, to the neglect of my body. What’s funny is, I used to be very physically active. I don’t know quite when or why things shifted so much. Looks like something for me to explore. Thank you!

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    • Hi Susan, lovely to see you round these parts :). Yes, I think imbalance can definitely creep up on us…sometimes an injury can stop us in our tracks and shift our focus – perhaps that happened to you? It can change back again though – I am 40 now, and I am stronger, fitter and more flexible than I was 10 years ago, and probably more, just with a home yoga practice and a bit of walking. Our bodies are so resilient. Glad my post was food for thought!

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      • Oooo. Yes. The first few years of my son’s life slayed me in a few ways. But about the time I was starting to feel better I blew out my back in a big way (and am dealing with it again). Definitely working on becoming happy in my body again.

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  3. i’m impressed with the balance you’re achieving with these practical mystic ways, sara!
    mind does seem obsessed with touting it’s importance
    with grand thoughts & misperceptions.
    i’m told i let my heart steer too often
    while intentionally keeping the mind
    in the back seat, blindfolded πŸ™‚

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    • And is that true, David? Do you? I know balance is important to me because I run better like that, but I am equally sure that it doesn’t even occur to other people, and maybe doesn’t even matter!I can’t help thinking though, what are we missing when we neglect one or more parts of ourselves in favour of another? Thank you for your lovely comments and popping by, I really appreciate it xo

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      • it’s wonderful when nature’s balance is allowed to organically manifest, sara. i try to create favorable conditions for this myself by not-keeping busy. although, my mind would like the balance to be, shall I say, in it’s favor πŸ™‚ my teacher’s often did not express heart & mind as separate entities, other than to convey how they are two sides of the same living coin πŸ™‚

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      • Yes, and that is a beautiful truth. It probably reflects my analytical mind that I have separated them – but a person can only work with what they have 😊

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  4. Sara, thank you for your profound message. I love that figure of Shakti–beautiful–especially her face and it’s expression. What a lovely ambition you’ve had since childhood–to find enlightenment. I become so easily engrossed in everyday nuts and bolts that I can forget that enlightenment is what it’s all about, so I have to say that my post makes me feel guilty about neglecting balances, though as a Libra, balances are supposed to be a strength of mine. Someone once said to me–maybe it was Diana–“You live too much inside your head.” So I read your words and wish to say to you, “Sara, tell me more.”

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    • Dear David, you are a Libran! Of course, Librans are my very favourite people 😊 Libra does represent balance, but when you have a Libran sun, that is usually something you aspire to rather than naturally possess 😊 libra is an air sign, so the intellect is a natural place for them, and there is a tendency to overthink. Librans understand the world is a complex place…
      As for more, well, I am wondering if I should share more actually, because it isn’t as obvious to others as it is to me…funny that – you spend 10 years thinking about something, so if course it’s obvious!

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      • Sara, I have to laugh because David was forced into balance today in just the way you mention in your post. We spent much of the day babysitting one of our grandchildren, an 18-month old Little Miss Bossy, so he was forced out of his head and into the present moment of being a Grandpa, which he does very well.

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      • Of course he is Diana 😊 There is nothing like an arrival of a toddler to bring all hands on deck! I do love how a message from somewhere is often quickly followed by a message from another direction just in case you missed the first one 😊 it’s lovely to hear from you – are you well?

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  5. Refreshing perspective on this topic! I enjoyed what your post got me thinking about.
    So, a little neglected? The heart, as you know. My mind is definitely the strongest…damn thing likes running the freakin’ show! And usually it’s through my body that I tap into the spiritual..as in I need my body to wear my mind out, or rather clear my mind out so I can get to the spiritual…if that makes any sense.

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  6. I am well, Sara. Thank you for asking. Summer break from teaching–and I know you are very familiar with this–brings an opportunity to re-balance. Being outside refreshes the spirit, and getting enough sleep and more exercise rejuvenates the body. Loved your post.

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    • Thank you Diana – sometimes we do have to re-balance seasonally, especially in education, which feels very intensely heart and mind work, if I was to analyse it…I am glad you are enjoying your summer ❀️

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  7. Such a good post Sara and it feel like it’s too long since I read your words.
    Imbalance and balance…in some ways it’s more balanced for me now then it ever was but still not enough as well. I think awareness of what’s needed is what makes the huge difference now though.

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    • It is so hard when you have little kids – but at the very least, as you say, you can easily pinpoint the areas that you need to address. To become more finely attuned to your own needs is one of the potentials of motherhood, I think.

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  8. You’ve elucidated something the G.O. and I have been trying to understand, not for ourselves -we’re aware we function better when our aspects are balanced although circumstances may arise otherwise- but with several of people we’ve encountered recently. Really focussed on body image, material things and the trappings of spirituality… You’ve summed up the effects of so accurately. As spiritual beings living an earthly existence the balance you speak of is one of the many lessons we encounter in many ways. For me, it is accepting that I am perfectly imperfect in all my aspects, that I am continuing to learn, change and grow but will remain so.

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    • Thanks Dale – I think we have all come across people who are so extremely out of balance that they seem weird or pathological…and we know first hand what it feels like to be out of balance with ourselves! I love that you guys are in touch enough that you already know that about yourselves…high five! My guess is that you are meeting all manner of people!

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  9. The balance between the body, mind, heart…thankyou for reminder. For me, today – Winter Solstice is a home-day of dedicated meditation practice. Looking forward to weaving all aspects into the processes.

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    • I am lucky enough to have a home day too…I woke up early and meditated and wrote…and I would love to do some yoga as well. It’s cold and windy today, so I think I’ll be inside…

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