Updated: Nov 29, 2020
How Mindfulness can help you to identify your needs and find the right balance in your life.
I remember a group discussion about balance during a mindfulness retreat at the Plum Village, this peaceful place founded by Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh in Dordogne, southern France. The outcome of the discussion was that extremes were not leading to happiness. Happiness lies somewhere in the middle.
Last week, I was at another peaceful place, the Benediktushof in Holzkirchen, Bavaria, for the 5th part of my Mindful Leadership Trainer education. Our instructor, Rudi Ballreich, started the training week with a personal reflection on a graph, inspired by the Riemann-Thomann-Model that is commonly used for assessing individual personality-types in teams: if you consider that these axes represent your needs, where would you place yourself on the graph and how has the coronavirus crisis impacted those needs?
I quickly spotted myself quite high on both Closeness and Freedom axes. The lockdown in place in Germany was a quite painful experience for me at the beginning: my need of contact with my family and friends could suddently not be fulfilled anymore. Worse, my freedom of choosing what was the best for me was taken from me. The motto was given: Distance and Safety first.
On the other hand, I realized that, although living 24/7 with my wife at home was a beautiful experience, I also needed time for myself, after all, and that the health security of my beloved ones was as important as my personal freedom!
What I try to explain here is that we are all ranging between numerous needs, on many differents axes, that might first appear contradicting, swinging back and forth depending on the situation. May it be in couples, where the balance between closeness and distance is as primordial as the one between security and freedom for a healthy loving and caring relationship; in your professional life, where the need for stability through structures might conflict with the freedom’s need of being creative; or even in sport, where the excitement to reach one’s physical and mental limits has to be balanced with the body’s need to rest and recover.
Finding the right balance and maneuvring between these poles, these “extremes”, is therefore a real “art of living” and requires a deep understanding of one’s own limits, beliefs, aspirations, and needs.
Mindfulness is a great way of increasing this awareness by observing your feelings, thoughts and behaviors in specific situations:
What are you feelings right now?
What are the sensations you can notice?
Can you perhaps recognize some emotions?
What kind of thoughts are present in your mind?
Just notice, without passing judgement. There is nothing good or bad, it is just the way you feel or think in this present moment.
Then reflect, inquire about it:
What do you learn from it?
What are the potential needs behind these feelings, emotions or thoughts?
What do you want?
Are you “in balance”?
If not, what can you do? And if yes, how does it feel?
So, what do you think: Could balance be the key of happiness?
“Be moderate in order to taste the joys of life in abundance” - Epicurus
If you lost your balance and struggle with a situation, or you feel overwhelmed by your emotions, feel free to contact me to see how I can help you!
Take care. Keep the balance. Be mindful.
 The original Riemann-Thomann model has a Steadiness-Change vertical axis instead of the Security-Freedom one depicted here.