Mark Blasini


The two types of balance


The first type of balance is what I call stationary balance. This is the balance of trying to cultivate a sense of calm and clarity. Think of the circus performer who can hold a ladder or bicycle on his or her chin.

This is the type of balance we usually mean when we talk about needing more balance. It's the balance we're aiming for when we meditate or practice mindfulness. It's the balance of keeping things under control or keeping our minds clear, even if just for a little while.

Creating stationary balance is simple (though not necessarily easy): clear out your environment, free yourself from distrations, and let your mind either relax (e.g. meditation, floating in water, etc.) or focus on a specific task (e.g. journaling, bird watching, etc.). You'll find yourself becoming calmer and better equipped to handle stress.

The second type of balance is what I call mobile balance. This is the balance of the tightrope walker. The idea is not to keep things the same or calm, but to move forward steadily in the face of danger, volatility, chaos. To improve in the face of risk.

Creating mobile balance is also simple, though a little more involved. You have to have a clear sense of where you're trying to get to, try your best to prepare for the journey, and continually take little steps to advance on this journey.

While both types of balance are important, we tend to focus on the first one over the second. There is a plethora of advice and books about how to meditate, detach, be more mindful, etc. But in truth, the second type of balance is arguably the balance that we need more.

The world is always changing. This is a guarantee. It may not always be possible to keep things calm and distraction-free, but we should definitely know how to improve in the face of uncertainty and change.

For this reason, I'd give managing these two types of balance an 80/20 split, where 80% of your time should be focused on managing mobile balance - on keeping moving forward steadily - and 20% of your time should be more focused on establishing stationary balance - on reflecting or maintaining a calm, empty mind.

Ironically, managing the two types of balance actually becomes a third type of balance - what I call anti-inertial balance. I call it anti-inertial because our habit is to keep doing what we're doing (either being stationary or mobile). Balance isn't about maintaining inertia; it's about preventing it so that we can find peace in a dynamic, ever-changing world.