Thoughts on Finding Balance

In this morning’s meditation, I weighed the concept of balance. At first it was a lot of thoughts, then it was more about the feeling of it, and then it was both. In those thirty minutes or so, I must have had a hundred thoughts come and go before I really started to pay close attention to one thing: my breath. Maybe after about ten minutes, some equilibrium was achieved between my in and out breaths. Just breathing in, breathing out, for equal lengths of time. Feeling the inside of the body, feeling the outside of the body. Noticing how after a while, there did not seem to be much difference between the two, and a certain state of wholeness was felt. I was in my mind and my body at the same time, without noticing one or the other too much.

This state of balance between mind and body, of just being, can transform everyday well-being.

As human beings with overly active minds, we love to categorize and assign value to things. We make instant internal pronouncements about everything! Personally, I notice myself closing up or getting ready for a fight when something is not to my liking, or someone is doing something that offends me. I always want a smooth ride, for my life to be happy all the time – without acknowledging pain, by resisting suffering – even though sorrow is a regular part of being alive. Just like everyone else, I place a greater value on joyful happy experiences. When I feel pain, I don’t want it! And that’s all perfectly natural.

“Life is glorious, but life is also wretched. It is both… One inspires us, the other softens us. They go together.”

-Pema Chodron

How we react during uncomfortable moments is key: maybe we get angry and lash out at anyone who enters into our crosshairs, try to numb our pain or loneliness with excessive exercise or alcohol, or just run away and leave our jobs or marriages. Maybe we keep telling ourselves the same story about how unfair it is that we have to experience this type of suffering, and that the world really owes us something for having to go through this. And we continue to marinate in more suffering, except now we have created it for ourselves. By reacting, resisting, and complaining, we deny ourselves the full experience of being human and quite possibly the transformation that our pain might bring.

Being “mindful” or “in the present moment” helps us find balance throughout our day, experience more joy in little things, and facilitate a wiser navigation and acceptance of our suffering as part of our human existence.

I’m trying a new approach for myself. When I feel myself wanting to pull away or get angry, or something just really hurts, I try to give it some space by breathing. Maybe little by little, I can begin to open to the idea of accepting it so that I can move through whatever it is more gracefully. And in turn, when things go right, and I feel on top of the world, I’m trying not to get swept away by my own ego. We’ll see how it goes. For me, it all comes back to the breath. By practicing balance between the in and out breaths, practicing this non-dualistic non-judgmental approach, I start to experience a larger sense of balance. I know there’s suffering, I know there’s joy, and I also know that in a way they are the same. They are things we experience as part of being alive. So I’m brought back to balance and being alive and just being.

By just sitting and breathing, we become more aware of our own everyday well-being, which is shifting and changing with each breath.

Would you like to practice this with me? Try the Balancing Breath Exercise as a step towards transforming your own everyday well-being!

Be Present: The Gift of Yoga

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Prepare for the holidays by wrapping yourself in the grace and joy of yoga. Our lighthearted yoga sequence is safe for all levels, even total beginners and kids! Combat the winter blues and stress of the holidays by meeting yourself fully on the merry mat. Light refreshments and community connection to follow. A percentage of the proceeds will be donated to ABC Strath Haven. Admission is free for ABC students, staff, and host families! Bring your own mat, some extra mats provided.

Saturday December 15th 10:00am – 11:30am Wallingford Presbyterian Church-110 E Brookhaven Rd-$30

In this special winter session, held in Fellowship Hall, we’ll:

  • Practice simple breathing techniques for taming stress and building energy.
  • Fuse breath with movement to achieve a state of balance.
  • Explore the process of staying present during a variety of reclining, seated, and standing postures. Play with the pulse of movement within yoga poses and enjoy extended transitions between poses.
  • Delve into how to navigate moments of resistance we might experience during a yoga class, and find ways to move through potential distractedness, judgment, new physical sensations, or anxiety.
  • Be encouraged to listen to our own needs by turning down the noise of the mind and accepting whatever thought or feeling is in the foreground.

After our yoga practice, feel free to stay and connect with fellow members of the community and enjoy some light refreshments and music. Class size is limited to 35.

To register, email and secure your spot. When you pre-register, you’ll have the chance to enter our raffle to win a free spot in your choice of the group sessions scheduled for January! For more information on when those classes meet check out our Wellness Offerings. Two winners will be announced after class. If you have already registered for a group class and you win, you’ll be refunded.

Payment Options:
  • Pay through PayPal or credit card (button below):
  • Send a check: Ann MacMullan / 1809 S. Bancroft St. Philadelphia, PA 19145

Gift of Yoga Workshop

50% will be donated to ABC House Strath Haven


annAbout the Instructor: Ann MacMullan Jeans, a native of Swarthmore and a Strath Haven HS alum, is a certified yoga instructor (RYT-200) and teaches in the Philadelphia area with her company Team Sun Wellness. Ann believes in the healing power of yoga and meditation for everyone, no matter what age, level of fitness, or life circumstance.
“Ann is an excellent teacher who knows yoga. More importantly, she is attuned to the abilities of her students. She adapts the practice so that we can safely participate and gain from the experience. It is a true gift.” – Amy S.
About ABC Strath Haven: The mission of A Better Chance Strath Haven is to provide a supportive, nurturing environment for promising, motivated students of color from underserved communities to help them develop personally and academically as they prepare for college.