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October 18, 2017
Articles
"As a psychotherapist, I couldn't help but see a similarity between orchids and people. Both have a blooming cycle as well as quiet periods. . . Life change, in people as well as in plants, occurs according to their own timing. I learned a new perspective about life change from my orchid: Growth and change often means that first something within needs to die." "
-- Charlyne Gelt, Ph.D., (PSY22909), M.F.T.


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Balancing Our Emotional Body

by Charlyne Gelt, Ph.D., (PSY22909), M.F.T.

I love a metaphor! I have my father to thank for that. As a young girl, my father used metaphors to teach me some important lessons of life, like the meaning of "balance". For example,after lifting me up to walk along a wall, he'd encourage me, shouting out, "Life is like a balance beam! Don't fall off!" In life, he stressed, "Balance is not an option!" At that time, the value of balance was still a mystery to me.

As I grew older, the metaphoric "walls" of my life became more challenging. Again, my father continued to emphasize the importance of avoiding pitfalls through the well-learned practice of balance, awareness, and focused attention.

orchid

A wonderful metaphor for the importance of feeling centered, and the strength and joy of a life in balance, is the art of rock stacking. Rock stacking requires development of a fine sensitivity for the feelings and energy of each individual rock. Certain rocks seem to refuse to be stacked. Silently resistant, they remain stuck in the earth, unmovable, even defiant: "No, I can't do this! It's just not possible!" But with certain rocks, there seems to be a kind of fluid dance, an unspoken dialogue between the rock and the artist that marks a path of change. A shift of the rock's energy as well as our perception of what is possible is revealed. Rock stacking, then becomes a metaphor for the benefits of balance, and for the delicate equilibrium of sensation, intuition, thinking, and emotion.

Creating balance in our personal lives is a multi-layered challenge that requires conscious awareness and the interaction of body and mind. It begins with the awareness that some of our beliefs are outmoded and no longer serve us. For example, in our society, the principal goal has been external validation and achievement, with a constant pressure to increase knowledge and expertise for the purpose of acquiring material wealth. Emotional balance, however, requires awareness, intention, and a desire to transform that pseudo-intimacy, interpersonal impoverishment, and disconnection. It can be replaced with meaning and self-worth derived from the joy of connection, caring and the giving of oneself rather than things.

Balancing internal needs and external goals requires awareness and intention. Emotional balance is a healthy internal goal that offers validation on multiple levels. Questioning what keeps you chained to those outmoded beliefs is another way of letting go of them.

Why Not Walk the Wall? If your life feels out of balance to the point where it is negatively affecting your health and well-being, why not try something different? Try "walking the wall," and finding a better balance in all things. Ask yourself some questions, such as what keeps you chained to outmoded beliefs? What restrictions from your past keep you from expanding your comfort zone, exercising your creativity, or expressing yourself more fully?

People do get stuck or locked in old behaviors and old thinking patterns that impact all aspects of our lives. Perhaps they have bought into family myths and dysfunctional beliefs that become obstacles to healthy problem solutions, such as, "The women in our family don't get divorced," "smile at all costs," "anger is not allowed," or, "I have to control my feelings if I want to be loved." These notions can adversely affect our physical health, keep us emotionally split, and out of balance.

Just imagine yourself breaking free of these constraints! What would your life look like? True awareness transforms stuck thinking into wisdom, thereby expanding one's emotional repertoire.

Like rock stacking or walking a wall, balance requires awareness and attunement to the body-mind connection. This, in turn, helps us become responsive rather than reactive, flexible rather than rigid, and centered rather than fragmented, even when chaos hits.

In the words of Buddha: "We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts we make the world."