balance happens

graffiti: to the far right, the word Balance, then a grey circle, the, to the far right, a blue bass drummer, marching away

Up at 5 this morning, and actually got out of bed before the first snooze went off. This morning’s tea is nettle-dandelion-mint-anise-cardamon. This morning’s candle is blue. This morning’s thinking is vision and balance.

F! and I pulled our cards last night, the first time in this new place; is that right? I pulled Temperance, which in the Medicine Woman Tarot is called Balance — could it be more perfect, given yesterday’s blog post?

I could hardly think of a question for the cards, just something for right now, about work or school or relationship or… yeah … any one of those. And she gave me Balance, Synthesis. Here’s what the text says: “You have acted, you have tried, now you must integrate the experience with everything else that is you.” And: “You are the actor, I am the integrator of your actions. Take time for me. Temperance, the Divine Blending, happens automatically whenever you relax.”

Oh. Right. (Wait — really?)

So this goes right back to the self-care maintenance thing I was thinking about yesterday — it’s not just that we need moments of quiet, of relaxation, of deep breathing or other forms of mindfulness and conscious embodiment to maintain a well-being, to lower our stress levels, to help us stay out of the crisis zone, but also this: balance happens naturally when we relax.

I worry all the time that I have too much going on and not enough time to reflect on what’s happening, on all the different pieces of my life, on how things fit together. Here’s what this card is reminding me: balance comes when I make time for it to come — and I can’t force balance. This feels like a paradigm shift for me: It’s not something I can work on. It’s not something I can make happen. Balance happens when we slow down; reflection occurs naturally during moments of quiet, meditation, exercise, conversation over dinner. Integration of experience is something our bodies and consciousnesses know how to do — just like our muscles know how to integrate a new movement or stretch, with periods of tension and release. We need the release.

Constant busy-ness (tension) keeps this reflection, integration, at bay — and sometimes that is a survival strategy. It certainly has been for me: let me always be too busy to really slow down and let the feelings catch up with me. (We also have an ethic of over-busy-ness in our different communities, particular social change and activist communities — if you’re not exhausted and burning out, you’re not doing enough. This ethic isn’t helping us do our work better, unfortunately. ) Slowing down, even for a moment, can become frightening. I spend so much time running, I don’t know what I’m going to get hit in the face with if I stop for a second and turn around.

Turns out, when I do, it’s just my body, my sensations, wanting to catch up — this history, this conscious self that catches up and catches her breath.

It’s difficult to believe that it’s not my job to make everything happen right — to force myself to balance, to integrate, to relax. Just reading the second half of that sentence makes me chuckle, but only a little: that’s the feeling so many of us have, I think — that we have to make it happen. But balance isn’t forced. It just comes naturally when we give it breathing room, when we take time for a walk, when we make time for things we love: cooking, swimming, time with friends, long baths, phone calls, reading, art, walks, craft time, morning meditation… we get to let it happen. There’s some trust involved here, and practice, I think. Always practice.

What’s a prompt around this? One might be not to write at all — but to set down the pen and rest for 5 minutes. Just close your eyes and let the breathing come, let yourself notice your breathing, let yourself just notice what thoughts come and let them pass through. Notice if any tension arises, notice where in your body you are feeling tensed, where you are feeling relaxed. Notice how it feels to be supported by your chair, notice how your hands feel on your lap or on the table or wherever they are resting. Set a quiet alarm for 5 minutes, if you want, so you don’t have to worry about the time. Or simply let yourself rest with your eyes closed for a few minutes.

It can be powerful, too, to write a vision of what your or your character’s life would look and feel like if it were more balanced — take 10 minutes and see it on the page: what does your or their morning look like? What’s your ideal, most balanced day? How do you or they feel, going through this day? What people are there? What smells, sounds — let all your senses out on the page. (Notice, too, what people or sights or sensations aren’t there, but don’t spend a lot of attention on this part — let yourself vision what you want!)

Thank you for the ways you support balance in others’ lives, how you nurture and care for friends, family (chosen or blood or both or…). Thank you for the slow, deep breaths you take for you, too. Thank you for your inherent creativity, the brilliant stuff you were born with and that no one can take away. Thank you for your words!

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