Let Your Body Teach You About Balance - Christine Kane

Today’s guest post was written by Sue Ludwig, a neonatal occupational therapist and a published poet. Sue is a consultant to neonatal intensive care units around the country and a national speaker. She lives in Ohio with her husband and two children.

We are made to be in balance.

By balance I mean that in mind, body and spirit we function well on a day-to-day basis.

But sometimes our thoughts about living in balance come fully equipped with images of peaceful ocean shores, yoga, and at least 3 weeks of vacation each year.  In other words, all year long we live out of balance and hope to recoup it in one tidy time span. Preferably in a beautiful place.

As if balance can occur only when we’ve set aside time for it.

If our bodies lived by this rule, we’d be sick or hurt constantly. Bodies don’t wait. They adjust constantly to changing conditions.

The great thing is we don’t need to reinvent the wheel here. Nature has most things figured out.

I have learned a few things from the human body that make living a balanced life a tangible reality:

#1 – Your body balances in real time.

Our bodies do not just go on cruise control for balance. Balance in all of our systems is an active process that happens constantly in real time.

Our body maintains our temperature to within a few degrees of ‘normal’ all the time. This means it does not wait until our temperature is 103 before signaling that we’re hot. We sweat instead, and out temp lowers. It happens so fast we don’t even realize it.

Our bodies know that playing catch up when things are off balance is not nearly as efficient and healthy as adjusting for balance constantly.

I think about this as I learn that waiting to clean off my desk until it becomes a 5-hour task is not as efficient as doing it each morning. The latter helps me feel in balance, and I am more productive.

Waiting to eat until I’m so hungry I go face down in the nearest carbohydrate to calm my system, does not work to maintain balance either. It takes hours to return my system to normal.

I consciously take time off during the year, some with my family, and some on my own. All of this helps me feel balanced physically, emotionally, and spiritually. If I save it all for the end of the year or the summer, I get depleted along the way. When vacation finally comes I’m just stressed and rely on that one vacation to meet all of my needs for the year.

#2   Your body doesn’t do drama.

Our bodies don’t make a big deal of their quest for balance. Our cells just go about their work to support us. No drama. No, “I can’t believe she just ate another cookie and now I have to adjust her sugar levels AGAIN,” coming from our bodies.

Our white blood cells do not throw in the towel after fighting off an infection, citing unequal workload. The system improves because of their efforts. They have helped restore balance. They return to normalcy without praise or applause.

Our bodies work for one common goal:

Supporting the system to maintain its highest level of function.

I used to be great at this. The drama part I mean.

As I prepared to leave town for work, I’d worry out loud about the kids’ schedules, and how it would all get done.  My husband would just look at me and say, “I’ve got it covered.”  (i.e. no drama, no sighing, no talk about how this affected his work schedule.)

I learned from his approach. And recognized that drama detracts time and energy from the balance of my own system as well as my family’s. Now I get back in balance as soon as I hear myself going down that road. (Ok, sometimes my husband has to raise his eyebrows at me first.)

My husband and I each make sacrifices without drama; we simply each do what needs to be done.

Just like those white blood cells, we never keep score.

#3 –  Your body sometimes needs help.

Our bodies are made to maintain balance in our system under “tolerable conditions.”

Sometimes our bodies and our lives find themselves in conditions that are outside the normal scope of what we are designed to handle.

In this case, be it sickness, depression, financial issues, we need help to maintain balance. Some things are just greater than we can handle alone. And that is both okay and universal.

Our bodies teach us that it is always worth being part of the solution.

What does your body teach you about balance?

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24 COMMENTS ADD A COMMENT
  • Amanda Seyderhelm

    Hi Sue. Great article. I’ve had ovarian cancer so know all about body talk, and I know that the soul prompts the body to speak up – it did for me. How do you maintain balance in your life? I have found creative women struggle with this.

  • delightful soul

    Hi Sue,
    thanks for the great post! I am an example of how the body will react when thoughts go awry. A few weeks ago, I had a lot of stressful thinking going on in me, identifying and defining myself as the situation itself, anticipating the outcome. I then had an outbreak of skin rashes all over – which was a wake-up call. I am now in the process of balancing my thoughts, remaining connected to the Divine Spirit in me at all times. I can see the rashes healing slowly but steadily. Now, for some people, the explanation could be “Well, that had to happen anyway”. But for me that is nothing short of a miracle.
    It was truly a wake-up call – and I intend to heed to my body’s needs as much as I can, and as long as I can.
    Blessing to you and all the readers here always!

  • Sue

    Katherine,
    Sounds like balance feels like the opposite of creativity maybe to you? And what I’ve seen happen with me is that creating/allowing balance (and silence, which is scary too!) has become a place from which I can be open and creative.

    And I have had to make systems out of the boring stuff, like bills etc, so they don’t drain my energy. There is nothing about your energy here that feels boring! 🙂

    Everyone: Thanks for your comments, and love the words of the year and how you find things all year long to relate to them. Makes us see everything in a new light.

    Thanks Joe and Kel!

  • KatherineME

    reading this post and then all the positive comments has me feeling even more frustrated about balance. Balance actually scares the @#$% out of me. Balance to me equals “boring, mediorce and a place lacking in creativity”. And yet, I know I need to balance my creative side with structure and organization and all the stuff I think of as boring like paying bills, keeping track of my money and marketing my business.
    My bigger problem is the HUGE resistence my body comes up with every time I even think of activating some kind of dicipline in any area of my life.
    I heard Julia Cameron say “there is no such thing as a boring person”. I think maybe if I write that on a board 100x, maybe balance will naturally find its way into my life.

  • Mindful Mimi

    Thanks Sue for this reminder. It is so true that our bodies know better than we do what they need and when. Even a silly virus that kicks you down for 2 weeks tells you that your body probably was weak enough for it to be able to enter and take control. And that makes you think that you should have calmed down a bit before and maybe that wouldn’t have happened.
    I must say I usually take care of my body and mind. But lately I have not been working out and I have had a few stressful weeks. And the result? An open door for that little, creepy virus… that knocked me down for 2 weeks.

  • becky

    love this! Great examples.

  • Sloane

    Balance is also my word of the year. I did a collage to hang in my studio to remind me.
    I respect myself when I am tired and rest. When I am wound up (which is most of my waking day). I have to stop and breath and tell myself that nothng is going to get accomplished if I run around like a chicken with her head cut off. When it’s really bad I lay flat and say with each breath..Be Still Know God…until I feel sane again. It’s working for me and I feel I make the most of my days!

  • Slices of Beauty

    Very well said.
    Thanks Sue, great wisdom.

  • Laura

    Great post, Sue! As someone who knows pretty much nothing about biology, I’m impressed with how smart our bodies are, and like you say, the cells do all that work without drama. Thanks for the enlightenment. I will feel even more empowered when I go to our local hospital on Tuesday for a sheduled interview about doing some interpreting and training work for them. Happy Friday!

  • brojoe

    Great article Sue.

  • Kelly Beischel

    Okay my body is telling me to go to bed for balance. So… that is what I am going to do right now and best of all….not feel guilty in doing so. Kel

  • Andrea

    My word of the year is Soften because I can really be hard on my body…ignoring it to punch through some work or problem or stress. But if I soften, particularly my heart chakra, I can hear what my body wants and all the rest of me wants. Listening carefully at that pause, helps me a lot.
    For weeks I have been dreaming of ductwork, tubes in ceiling (not very entertaining!)….finally I figured it out. I was supposed to spread warmth, release warmth…to myself!
    Thanks for a mindful post on this process.

  • Sue

    Thanks for all of your comments! I love how you respond after truly thinking about the meaning. (Which is why you’re the kind of people who love Christine’s blog!) Love to hear where each of you are coming from!

  • Lisa in Oregon

    My word of the year is “balance!”

  • Stacey

    Great post! I call my body my most trusted adviser. I love that it is constantly informing me of what to do to stay in balance. I’m a big fan of Louise Hay’s “You Can Heal Your Life” because she created a detailed list of symptoms and the thought processes that underlie them and affirmations for healing them. They always ring true and help me get the message of what my body is telling me. Three cheers for the body!

  • Positively Present

    I love the guest post. I especially like the “your body doesn’t do drama part.” So true! 🙂 Thanks for sharing these words with us.

    http://positivelypresent.typepad.com

  • Chris Edgar | Purpose Power Coaching

    Thanks for this post. One thing I’ve found amazing recently is how much my body loves to receive my attention, even if all I’m doing is directing my awareness into certain parts of it. When I do that enough I start to see the truth — that I am my body, or at least it’s part of what I am, and that’s very refreshing.

  • Betty

    This is a very timely post for me. I am at home today because I spent the last two days trying to work while I was sick. Finally today I realized the insanity of that and I’m spending the day resting and getting back to a normal state.

    And it’s interesting what you wrote about “keeping score”. I’ve always been annoyed by people who do that, but I never connected it with the drama factor. Now I see how the two are related.

  • Catherine Cantieri, Sorted

    This is an amazing post. I’m learning to respect and honor the wisdom of my body, and it never occurred to me, but my body’s ability to achieve balance (in spite of the crap I put it through) is really quite awe-inspiring. Thank you for this post, Sue and Christine!

  • Lynne

    Sue, you are a wise, wise woman. Thank you for this. I found the last three paragraphs on your point #1 (love the one about face down in the carbs! So me some days!) to be especially relevant to how I operate. I love the way you write!

  • Emily

    This is great, Sue! Thanks! My body has definitely been teaching me some lessons in balance lately!

  • Elaine

    Ps. I’m looking forward to being able to get back to the gym later this week because I know that physical exercise has taught me a lot about creating a balance between my mind, body and spirit.

    Thanks for a great post 🙂

  • Elaine

    Thanks Sue!

    This is a great reminder for me as I woke up this morning after 10.5 hours sleep ( my bodies call not mine!)

    My mind body and spirit has been out of balance this week as I’ve been sick with food posioning (a dodgy sandwich Monday whilst training). I’ve noticed that whilst my body got on with restoring my physical health. My mind wanted to invent things for me to worry about (little dramas). I think my mind saw the bodies weakness as an opportunity to throw some extra ‘mind muck’ and distraction in my path.

    Here’s how I dealt with it: I went to bed early, rested more between work, mediated and found some stillness. I think for me this week, my spirit helped both my body and mind to restore balance.