The Mindful Mastery of Balance

How is winter treating you? Perhaps you’re in the midst of the polar vortex, buried in snow and insanely low temperatures. Or maybe you’re living in the land of the solar vortex happening out west. Loving the sun, but concerned about the drought’s impact on, and the access to, healthy organic Superfood. There’s probably not a better time of year to focus on balance and mindfulness.

I always remember what Yin and Yang demonstrate quite well – the fabric of nature is balanced. Light and dark, hot and cold, up and down, front and back, the same holds true in our physiologies. Our physiologies are actually a series of oxidation and reduction reactions inextricably intertwined as electrons or charged particles (more accurately wave-particles… we are not really sure of their specifics…they are most certainly cosmic). These get passed back and forth in the process of life.

Not only is nature balanced, but human nature is, as well. We need our feeding states to be interspersed with inactivity, socialization with solitude and introspection. And our mental activity with its purposeful opposite – keep that in mind.

I have noticed that with monotony comes translocation. People are translocated to the past and depressed, you know these as the “could have, should have” types. Or, they are translocated to the future and anxious… these are the “what if this, what if that” types. Ground yourself in the present, for this is the only moment that is life. This infinite experience is all yours all now. As the elders teach, presence in the present will provide for your future. Meditation, Yoga, Tai Chi, and walks in the woods (nature in general) help with this. 

Balance needs to be practiced in all we do, including the Superfoods diet and how we eat. I recall a particular meal that I had in the Western Ghats mountains region of Southern India, where food is honored. It is eaten with one’s hands. I was served a delectable array of curries, chutneys and rice on a banana leaf .

The food was amazing and dazzled each taste and sensation on my palate in stark contrast but balanced fashion – a veritable symphony of tastes and sensations.  The elders told me that we must balance the Six Rasas (or tastes – but more like experience and impact of food on the eater) for good health. The Rasas are salty, sour, bitter, sweet, pungent or heat (e.g. peppers), and astringent or kind of, well, like tannic or mouth drying (e.g. lentils).

What does balance and mindfulness look like on a daily basis?

Thich Nhat Hanh, in his book Miracle of Mindfulness, reminds us that:

“Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child – our own two eyes. All is a miracle.

The essential discipline of following one’s breath is to nourish and maintain calm mindfulness, even in the midst of the most difficult circumstances. Breath is the bridge that connects life to consciousness, which unites your body to your thoughts. Return to one’s true self, to be awake by being mindful."

When you are walking in nature, be in nature. Be immersed in your surroundings with all your senses. When you are eating a meal, really taste the flavors, smell the aromas, and be in tune with how the process of eating makes you feel. Practice awareness in all you do, put the multitasking aside, and if you veer off track or find your mind wandering, simply observe what has come up and then go back to the task at hand.  It’s easier said than done, but with practice, balance and mindfulness will become integrated with your mind and body. That’s true health for every season.

How do you attain balance and mindfulness in your day to day? Share with us in the comments below!

Be well!
Dr. Todd