December 13, 2014

The Difference Between Balance & Harmony

This is a hot topic for me, because I’ve noticed the spiritual community so focused on “achieving balance”. Let me explain to you why balance can be detrimental to achieving peace.

balanceFirst off, let me clarify the difference between balance and harmony.

Balance is the state of equality, it is not a state of lack nor is it a state of excess. In it’s pure form, it is the achievement of homeostasis. Now, homeostasis is important, but in and of itself it is a natural phenomenon. We are always in balance, because we are always changing and acclimatizing to the new, that which is moving through us, that which finds us, that which is revealing itself to us. The new might be a lower vibrational or a higher vibrational experience. When we are experiencing a rough path: too much work, too much sugar, sickness etc…we immediately claim, “Oh, I’m not in balance” when indeed, you are in balance…relative to what you’re experiencing.

Harmony, is an upgrade to balance. Harmony refers not to the middle ground between excess and lack, but to the integration of both. When we can find harmony in spite of being overworked, exhausted and sick, we are able to transcend these difficult experiences, without bypassing them and saying “This is too much for me” or “This is not enough”, which is an immediate resistance to what is happening in the NOW.

To illustrate the detriment of “trying to achieve balance” further, let us examine someone on a raw food diet, who is excluding cooked meals, claiming they’re not as nutritious, not as energizing and that their body is “happier” with their choices, so they are now in balance. This individual, in their search for balance, has negated one thing to accept another. When they are invited to a friend’s house for dinner, they will immediately feel “guilty” and “bad about themselves” for indulging in a rich chocolate cake. They are not in harmony. What about an individual that trains as an athlete? This person is “increasing their potential”, “strengthening their endurance”, “feeling great” about themselves after each workout session, but what about when work gets busy and they have to put in some long hours at the office and haven’t had their workout or training session? Now they have pent up energy like anger, aggression and annoyance because they “haven’t had their workout.” While you may exercise your free will on such choices so that they bring you balance into your life, this is NOT necessarily harmony. Your well-being and happiness is still conditioned upon a framework, which you have designed for yourself and attributed to your well-being. You have not become flexible, but rather rigid, you have not experienced freedom, but rather conditional freedom and what you deam as “healthy” is not health if you’re attached to it and thus enslaved by it.

This is why I disagree with many rigorous practices, even Sadhana (a daily yoga practice). Without flexibility in our internal mental state, we will always be co-dependent on outer experiences for our happiness. Harmony encourages you to be in the moment right now. What do you feel right now? This society is so desperate to achieve balance, that they’ve forgotten to listen to themselves in the moment. They’ve forgotten what it’s like to just be. A truly awakened person, will find peace sitting in a subway station or in their room for hours. I’m not saying we should all do this, I’m saying that you must be OK integrating our environmental factors into our inner being, and not rejecting them in hopes of making your inner reality beautiful, tranquil and harmonious. That’s not lasting happiness, that’s not peace. This is a constant state of seeking, of self-improvement. Here are some practical questions to ask yourself when integrating your environment with your inner reality:

1) Why am I attached to this person, activity or habit? If it’s because I feel “good” with this person, activity or habit, then why don’t I feel “good” without it?
2) What am I resistant to? If it’s working too much, eating unhealthy, negative people then why am I “unhappy” with them? When you realize that your unhappiness is a result of fear of discomfort, lack of energy, sickness you will notice that you are still “attached” to comfort, energy and health.
3) Where do I get approval from? If it’s being “productive”, “accepted”, “liked” “admired” by others, you have yet to integrate those very feelings towards yourself.

We can never hope to achieve lasting peace, and thus happiness in our lives if we are constantly attached to things. It is in letting go of our routines, habits and of course resistance to what we deem as “bad”, “unhealthy”, “unpleasant” that will allow us to be in the moment. Any unpleasant person, feeling or activity is there for you to determine where your inner war is, not try to escape it with more play, better diet, working out etc. It is there for you to let down your barriers, your guard and your structures and just be present with people, places and experiences no matter what they are. This is a practice of letting space in, of rising above our attachments of integrating duality. It is the ability to achieve a complete state of unification with all of life, no matter what it is.

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