bal·ance –

to bring into or maintain harmony or a satisfying and rewarding tension.

The Practice

Balance as a practice is about reasonable tension. It’s about knowing what you value most in life and finding a way to live closely to that space. It’s about self-compassion and gentleness. It’s about listening deeply to your life moment to moment and choosing the direction that brings creative harmony.

The Research

Most of the information about balance refers to work-life balance or stress management. Dr. Peter Nixon developed the Human Function Curve to depict the balance between healthy stress and distress. See below.

Human Function Curve


What is important to understand is that some tension or stress is healthy. It keeps us motivated and helps us get in touch with our creativity. We want to live on our creative edge or on the edge of our comfort zone. This is where the magic can happen. Stress becomes a problem either when we have more on our plates than we can reasonably manage or we begin to relate to stress as harmful or dangerous. When our relationship to stress changes then we can cross the line into fatigue, exhaustion, ill health and perhaps even a breakdown.

How To Start Practicing

Be Mindful – A meditation practice helps you listen more keenly to the tension in your life and respond accordingly.

Live Your Values – Do a values assessment. Periodically assess what values you relate to most. Then check in to see if you are living close to your values or far away. Distancing yourself from your values can create unconscious tension that rides just under the surface and creates a mild daily irritant.

Create A Vision – What is your vision for balance or healthy life tension? What daily activities help you create this balance?

Stay Curious – When tension starts to build in your life get curious about the tension. We often just react to the tension without attempting to understand how it was created.

Assess – What does it feel like to live in your comfort zone? What does healthy stress look like in your life? What does exhaustion feel like? How do you recharge? What constitutes reasonable tension for you in your life?

Resources To Support Your Practice


Kelly McGonigal: How to Make Stress Your Friend

View this TEDTalk (opens new tab)

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