Am I balanced?
This week saw the biannual equinox arrive. The 20th of March and 22nd or 23rd of September are the two equinoxes of the year.
Equinox is derived from the Latin words: aequus, which means equal and nox, which means night. It isn’t, interestingly, necessarily when there is equal daylight and night time for two reasons. One, when sun’s rays first appear the centre of the Sun is still below the horizon; two, because of the refraction of light in the atmosphere it’s lighter than would be the case otherwise.
To all intents and purposes, however, daylight and night-time are as good as equal: balanced. The world seems to take on a different, more optimistic feel perhaps because many people are going to work and returning home at the end of their working day in daylight and not the all too common experience in winter when both journeys are carried out in darkness. Further, flowers such as the daffodil and crocus abound where I live and may well do where you live too. I’ve cut the lawn twice in the last two weeks and local authority lawn cutters are busy throughout my town trimming the grass ways and causing that ‘cut lawn’ smell that so many people find great pleasure in to permeate the air. Nature is awakening from its dormancy sensing the time to start its growth, as the spring season arrives with its balanced day and night times.
But this isn’t meant to be a science of the celestial bodies post or a spring horticultural post but a ‘science of the mind’ post. So, to return to the title, am I balanced?
Am I balanced?, rather reminds me of the question repeatedly asked by Niles to his brother, Frasier, in the hit sitcom, Frasier. Niles repeatedly asks the question: Are you happy? The answer, surely, is yes or no? Yet, Frasier increasingly finds more ways of avoiding answering the question. Normally, I’m not a fan of quick responses to questions but perhaps I will make an exception here. I don’t have to think whether I love my wife: I love my wife. There is nothing to think about. Similarly, to the question: am I happy? The immediate answer is yes. Is everything right in my world? No. But my happiness isn’t dictated to by how things are for me. I have far more to be happy with than to be unhappy with. I count my blessings, as I will mention again later. Doing so, I find, invariably puts a different perspective on how things look.
Avoiding answering the question – indeed any question – might be because we don’t want to admit to ourselves the situation we’re in or the feeling or feelings that we have. Acknowledging the feeling might provoke us to ‘do something about it if we don’t like it’. So, avoiding facing the emotion is, in effect, a denial technique. We don’t want to deal with the feeling since that then means dealing with how things are. What happens? The status quo remains. Status quo is fine if what we have is what we want to have, and it’s doing us and others good. All too often, however, we want to stay the same even though it’s not doing us and others good. The impact: the natural balance needed for healthy living is out of kilter and is in favour of dis-ease. We’re simply not at ease with ourselves and others. It comes as no surprise that not being at ease can have long-term health impacts: we get ill.
We are, I believe, mind, body and spirit. When all three are balanced we function with optimum conditions. Any one of these states, when unbalanced through a lack of investment, will affect the other two states. It cannot, not affect the other two states. However physically fit we are, if mentally we’re struggling, the whole body is affected. If we solely concentrate on spiritual things but take no form of exercise whatsoever then muscle atrophy occurs and we lack the physical strength to carry out daily tasks. (By the way, any form of exercise that makes our muscles work will do us good whatever that is and for however long that is.) Finally, reading every text book under the sun and becoming an expert through 10 000 hours of study will only fully benefit us if we also take some moderate form of exercise each week and develop the healthy spiritual side of our lives. Exercising the muscles; exercising the grey matter; healthily exercising our Spirit. All three must be exercised for optimum health.
I think that was one of the things St Paul was getting at when he said:
If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honoured, all rejoice together.
1 Corinthians 12: 26
What to do
Have a look a the three states in your life. It doesn’t require detailed analysis. That’s a bit like the: Am I happy? question. We can spend so long not answering that question while devoting countless hours exploring and debating the question and collaborating the evidence before making our conclusion. Checking out the three states in your life can easily be done by taking a quick look at your past week. That’s what I did. It showed me that I hadn’t exercised enough. Why? Other demands took a precedence. Life’s like that. So, what am I going to do about it? I’m going to walk home from town. Fresh air, time to think and reflect, a moving of the leg muscles for 20 or so minutes will do me wonders. I don’t have to do that. There’s a perfectly good bus route after all. I could sit and rationalise all the reasons why taking the bus would be a better idea: I will get home quicker, and I’ve so much work to do; I’m tired so that would save me the exertion. But, the bus journey gives me something else too: it keeps my body out of kilter through a lack of physical exercise. It’s no good having a healthy mind and Spirit if my body is left behind with no investment.
As for the spiritual dimension, for me I believe that I can never pray too much. Martin Luther famously implied that he was too busy not to pray. If you’re a Christian reading this I implore you to maintain the ratio between busyness and prayer: as busyness increases so too must our business of prayer to God. Even better, at all times, pray.
For the rest of us prayer does have a releasing power; I encourage you to pray. Take pleasure too in the delights all around you. They’re there but they might take some finding if you haven’t recently looked. Start by counting your blessings every day. That is such a powerful way to spiritually invest and feel happier, as a result. I’ve written several posts on how to feel more happy such as counting your blessings. Scientific research has shown it to be a profoundly beneficial influence on our emotional wellbeing.
Exercise your body, your mind and your spirit with helpful, uplifting and ⁽ª⁾ wholesome things. Keep them balanced too. To repeat: all three need investing in. Seven days without body exercise, mind exercise and spirit exercise makes one weak (sic). And possibly sick too!
Am I balanced? I’m getting there. Are you balanced?
⁽ª⁾ I strongly believe that we should develop our spiritual lives in a wholesome way. There are many spiritual things but not all are wholesome. Tarot card reading and occult practices will, I believe, lead to spiritual harm. I urge you to flee from them.