Living a Life of Purpose

Spirituality in real time.

Tune in, Step Out

Inner being and outer action create a balanced life.

the bridge
from inner to outer
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Every day we experience the balance of inner and outer in the simple act of breathing. Too much exhale and we start to fade. Too much inhale and we can’t hold it. And we quickly know when our breath is out of balance. Hyperventilating. Holding our breath. Shallow breathing. Exasperated exhales. Sudden frightened inhales. The breath gives away a lot about what’s going on in us at any given moment. And notice that every meditative tradition and every body-based practice from yoga to martial arts invite us to be aware of our breath and allow it to serve us well. Belly breathing helps reduce anxiety.  Panting is a classic childbirth strategy. Deep breathing slows us down. Conscious breathing quiets the mind.  

Our life is just like that: doing and being; tuning in and stepping out; in-breath and out-breath. This is not the introvert/extrovert question. Both those with an internal orientation and those with an external orientation need balance. And balance will look different for each person, but nonetheless, balance is needed. So how’s your balance? Take a quick glance at the last week. Many of us (most?) will be unbalanced towards the doing side of the equation. Some will be unbalanced on the other side. How does you balance feel? Check into your body, feelings and mind for clues to the balance (or lack of balance) in your life.

Balance is not, in this more holistic sense, equal weight on each side. It is not equal amounts of time spent in the inner world and the outer world. It is the unique balance that keeps you finely tuned and in relationship to your deepest Self. A dancer spends lots of time moving, an acrobat flying through the air, a boxer crouched down low, a meditator, sitting. Each may be living a balanced life…. or not. Balance is something you will know from the inside out. It is something you must create, for it doesn’t happen easily.

Boxer or meditator, each comes from within and steps out. Each tunes in to what is important, what has meaning, who they are and what they intend to create and then they step out: one into the ring, one onto the cushion. But if the boxer can’t sleep at night or the meditator doesn’t know how to relate to other people, then balance is lost.

Out of balance? How do you know when that’s true for you?

  • disconnected
  • restless
  • agitated
  • tired
  • angry
  • sad
  • purposeless
  • disinterested

Just a few of the ways we might know. What are the signs for you, that you are out of balance?

In balance? How do you know when it’s true for you?

  • aligned
  • energized
  • purposeful
  • engaged
  • content
  • rested
  • peaceful

What do you know about your unique experience of being in balance? Only you will know and only you can correct towards balance.

the balance of color
balance is beautiful
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Life is often hard and stressful and balance may seem impossible. Some of us get caught in the stepping out, with little time for tuning in. The big moves that might create balance may well be out of reach. We can’t just quit our day job to find more peace. We can’t stop reality from unfolding and often it unfolds with pain and suffering. So a good strategy is to take moments to find balance. Sometimes even stealing those moments from one place or another. We might like an hour to meditate or a day to lie in the hammock and read a novel. But we may not get those. Still we can tune in in brief moments throughout the day and week and month. 3 in-breaths before you start to work; driving a little more slowly, stretching for a few minutes when you wake up instead of leaping into action. The inner world is always available to us and we can choose to access it and deepen our in-breath towards more balance.

The same is true for the folks who may be unbalanced on the inner side of the equation: people with a shy nature or limited by circumstances of health or access, or inwardly oriented by choice. We may find safety in tuning in and find stepping out to be more difficult.  We have to find balance as well. And we, too, may need to step out slowly, one moment at a time. A hello to someone passing, a call to a friend, a letter to the editor, a walk in the park: finding balance in a moment by stepping out. Each step into an action brings us closer to our own right balance.

We get the best of who we are when we tune in and step out. We claim the rich gifts of our inner world. We have access to feelings, imagination, thinking and intuition. We can hear the call of Self. We are conscious. We claim different gifts when we step out, equally rich. We create, change, manifest our inner visions, impact our world, take action that matters. We respond to the call of Self. We are willers.

Who am I? I am a center of consciousness and will. I am the in-breath and the out-breath. I am all that I hold inside and all that I express in the world. I tune in. I step out.  

 

 




 

 the bridge

Dorothy Firman, Ed.D., is a psychotherapist and author/editor of many books including Chicken Soup for the Mother & Daughter Soul.

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