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September, 2012

Seeking "Balance" is a Formula for Flatlining Your Life and Work

By Elizabeth Anderson-Peacock, DC

We hear a lot of talk around achieving "Balance" and "Life-work balance," but is balance an outcome we truly want to achieve? Words mean everything. They can focus or distract, empower or overthrow, heal or hurt. They represent ideas, energy and intention of the soul behind them. As such, we need to exert caution in what we say, think and do since words are so powerful. That being said, let us look at the word "balance."

It represents a fixed word implying no motion. It represents rest, stability, equilibrium, a flat line. Consider of a set of traditional scales where weights are represented on either side. What happens when they are balanced? If your children are on a teeter-totter and balanced, are they moving, having fun? Or are they perhaps stuck? Can balance be maintained or will motion eventually occur? Is it smart to set ourselves up for something that is against life principles and doomed to failure?

Nature and life exhibit motion, direction and cycles, so why would we try to achieve something that just has no motion present? There is a saying by BJ Palmer, "life is motion and motion is life." So, by the time we achieve balance in our bodies, we have expired. No healthy cell in our body is lifeless or in balance. There is always the requirement for order, reconstruction and re-creation which requires energy. The current word we use in health care is allostasis. Which according to Wikipedia is "essential in order to maintain internal viability amid changing conditions."1

Is balance healthy for an organization or business? Is a business/organization growing when it reaches a "balance?" Is it a healthy sign? If you apply this concept to yourself - can you personally grow if you are "in balance" or is it when we are slightly off balance that new things reveal themselves? When I think of balance, I think of coasting along. Nothing really changes. I believe when nothing changes before we know it we get bit by the boredom bug. The boredom bug is when life becomes bland with a loss of enjoying the vast textures and experiences of life. Life's sweetness occurs with some level of friction or resistance.

It is that variation between two points that dictates how we discern our environment. For example it is how we see the difference between objects through their shapes, shadows, shades of color, and the same goes for smells and odors, textures, tastes and sounds. Internally, the presence of our blood pressure indicates we have a lack of balance as the pressure is a result of the pumping action of the heart meeting the resistance of the walls of the vascular tree. To discern temperature we need two differing points to compare. For us to walk upright we cannot be balanced. We actually have to fall forward, and move one leg ahead to counter the body from dropping.

About Harmony

When "harmonizing within the body," the following conditions are present as proposed by Sterling (2004), who puts forth six interrelated principles that underlie allostasis:

  1. Organisms are designed to be efficient.
  2. Efficiency requires reciprocal trade-offs.
  3. Efficiency also requires being able to predict future needs.
  4. Such prediction requires each sensor to adapt to the expected range of input.
  5. Prediction also demands that each effector adapt its output to the expected range of demand.
  6. Predictive regulation depends on behavior whilst neural mechanisms also adapt.2

When we consider the principles above, we see how they can fit in other areas of life such as to relationships, work and community. First, become aware of your thinking and language in practice with staff and patients. Our thoughts dictate our behavior and actions. For example, what is your mission statement and does it reflect a congruent and harmonized representation of your values? Where in your practice is your thinking "balanced" (stuck, unable to change)? I have coached doctors who are so fixed on their procedures there is no room to adapt and harmonize to the situation at hand. As a result they appear inflexible and rigid. As I like to say, "firm in principle, flexible in procedure." Are there areas perhaps in your intake paperwork, staff training, your own examination, doctor's report, or office visit that you need to review and perhaps take a step back or sideways?

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