(A shared post written for Enlightened Mama)

Balance. What does that mean anyway? Most of the time, it feels like some sort of enigma, a unicorn, or a that four-leaf clover we seek to find. Yet we talk about it, long for it, and strive to make it happen. We want the work/life balance. We want the kid/partner balance. We want the responsible/enjoyable balance. We want the natural/modern balance. However, despite all of our best efforts, it seems that none of us actually have the balance we desire. Is this a bad thing? I say maybe not.

Take this picture, for instance. I took it the other day when a couple of my kiddos were sick with the annoying and inevitable back-to-school colds and I had just gotten them out the door with the hopes that I wouldn’t be getting a call to pick them up sick from school. Look at it–I’ve got my herbs & homeopathic remedies, I’ve got my Western medicine prescriptions and my vitamins, and I’ve got my thermometer, hoping that some combination of these things work and my kid doesn’t get pneumonia, which could be fatal, so I keep taking his temperature to check for signs of fever. Oh, all with the backdrop of some fresh flowers to bring some life to the house. In the other room you will find multiple breathing machines to keep their airways doing their jobs, that we used, in addition to the craniosacral therapy I did on him daily to reduce restriction in his body and keep things moving to promote the healing process.

Today, you will find a prescription on the bathroom counter for some strong antibiotics that were prescribed after almost of week of persistent coughing that made the doctor (and this mama) a little nervous, and also a healthier young man asleep in his bed. What worked? Who knows, but I don’t really care, because I feel like he got a balanced approach to his health, and now here he is on the path to wellness.

This is how life works. We do what we think is best, at the moment, to try to find balance, and we hope we succeed. It might be the mainstream approach. It might be an alternative approach. It might be a combination of the two. It’s likely someone is judging us. It’s possible that we will look back one day and second guess our decisions. However, when we actually stop to think about it, the balance we have achieved, is also simultaneously in flux, and that fluctuation is actually what motivates us to keep working harder to achieve the balance.

I also think about yoga. Balance is a key element to every practice. Balance poses take on many forms, from the basic–stand tall with two feet on the ground, to the complicated–a handstand with ease. Either way, when you’re in the pose, in “balance,” your body is actually in constant motion, imbalanced, and working incredibly hard to be still, a state that gives the illusion of balance, but is never actually achieved. But it’s that motion, that activation of every cell of our bodies to try to be still, that wavering, the focus–that’s what keeps us going.

So how about we stop trying to achieve balance, as the marker of success? How about we accept that we will always be working at balance, because that state of imbalance is actually what drives and motivates us to figure out what we truly need in our lives to make us feel whole. Case in point: my son, the one who is on the strong antibiotics, just woke up to find me, awake and working at 1:45 in the morning. One might say–that’s terrible work/life balance to be awake at this hour, but I argue that I’m finding the perfect time for my creative juices to flow. He is experiencing some major imbalance in his gut, from the medicine that got him healthy in one way, but is now making him sick in another.  When I ask him, if he wants anything for his tummy troubles, he says, “Yes! Mom, where are those probiotics??” in an effort to balance his imbalanced gut. I can’t express how much I love the fact that he, unprompted, KNOWS that his gut is messed up and he also knows how to fix it! He truly is embracing the imbalance to find the balance. I think we all could learn a lot from this young man!

In gratitude and imbalance,

Liz Lull