Balancing Act: Some things are easier said than done

Balance. Rediscovering it always Makes It Better. Many known, and some mysterious, routes to restoring balance exist. At least one should work for me … maybe … I hope. Which should I try first?


Since it’s 5 a.m. and freezing, I vow to start with meditation—horizontal meditation, under my warm, soft covers. And prayer is a type of meditation. Or is meditation is a type of prayer? Whatever. So I’ll meditate and pray.

And wait, making “to do” lists can unclutter a mind.

So, I’ll meditate, pray, make mental lists and … Feel. More. Agitated! That certainly didn’t help my clamoring brain. So I turn to starting my day with gratitude instead. I forget about the lists, let go of worry and focus on those things for which I’m grateful.

Om … well, I’m grateful that I am not a porcupine; nobody would hug me. And I’m grateful that I don’t face triple-digit weight loss: losing double-digit poundage is depressing enough. And I am particularly grateful that, despite my threats, I never really grounded my children for the rest of their lives. (I already suffer enough guilt from all the other psychological damage that they keep telling me I’ve caused). Oh, the children. Oh, the guilt. Oh, this is not working. (So much for gratitude.)

Worse yet, now I’ve wasted an entire hour in bed. An hour that I should have, would have, could have been doing something useful with!

After getting out of bed and sending my children off to school with only minimal emotional crises, I call my savviest, funniest, newest-age friend for her balance-inducing recommendations. Humor is always good for the spirit, I chant as I speed dial. Perhaps the secret to true happiness is just a phone call away!

My savvy sage is there, and she has this to say about meditation: “You have to work hard to get rid of monkey mind—that mental fretting and wandering. Of course, I wish they called it something else, because monkeys are always spanking themselves. And that image just makes it harder to settle my mind.”

The monkey ruins it for me, too, so I ask about other “spiritual” practices that soothe the soul.

“Last month, I got my auras cleansed,” she says with a giggle. “Actually I got my auras and my chakras cleansed. And it worked. I remain sane.”

Nonetheless, I find myself wondering: Did they use Pine-Sol? And I realize that I’m no chakra-cleansing candidate.

Next she explains Gong Therapy. (That’s gong—not bong.) As in you lie on the floor while someone pounds a gong next to you.

“After a while it was pretty annoying,” she admits. “But I did feel better afterward. Of course, I always feel better when I’m laying down in a beautiful room, surrounded by lit candles, and loud noises stop.”

Her greatest success may be a mystic ritual called reikei (pronounced rakey). In fact, she announces: “I am a reikei healer!” I am so surprised to learn this unknown fact about my friend that I forget to ask what reikei is. Then again, I may not really want to know.

“After only two sessions,” she continues, “I was not only healed, I graduated with a certificate proclaiming me a Level One Reikei Healer. All for only $75. It was a bargain.”

Convincing as it sounds, I reject her offer to reikei heal me (friendship has its limits) and, in fact, forego all the new-age experiences she has described in favor of a more widely accepted eastern practice—yoga.

Soon thereafter, I try not to look in the mirror as I squeeze into an unflattering leotard and head to my favorite studio, Niyama, in downtown Wilmette. During 90 minutes of sun salutations and down dogs, the most fretting I do is wonder why they call down dog a “resting position” when it’s nothing but painful and, frankly, ugly. But lo and behold! I leave feeling balanced, centered and more fit.

I contemplate a victory celebration, and race home to make chocolate-chip cookies for my kids. Unfortunately, I “mindfully” eat two dozen and end up sick to my stomach and mindfully disgusted with myself.

Would have, could have, should have not. That’s when I finally remember the simplest response to distress and decide it might be the best Make It Better cure to my post-holiday blues, too. Just lie down and let it pass.

So I end my day back where it started and hope that my mother’s favorite remedy for life’s ills, “tincture of time,” will help.

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