Finding Balance in the Cycles of Life

Back in the beginning, when I first began screening my film series, Secrets of Life and Death, I held the belief people would come to an event about death only in the fall and winter when the days are short and the shadows long. Of course, I knew from experience that death has no season. My mother died in July.

In 2008, I lost three people, including my brother Sandy, all in the springtime. I readily admit to the dissonance it caused when contemplating their deaths while walking among the May flowers. It felt weird and out-of-synch. The reality is that the human life cycle has its own rhythm. Sometimes it coincides with seasons; often it does not.

Hobji bee Rabbit bug 2 -Cycle of Life

Now when I look at the flowers of May, I see not only the extravagant vibrancy of life but also the inevitable trajectory toward death. They remind me of the preciousness of life and fragility of my own existence.

In addition to the cycle of life and the cycle of the seasons, there are the psychological cycles, the highs and lows, that further confound any effort at inner balance. My spiritual teacher refers to this cycle as “contraction and expansion.” The contraction, he explains, enables a spiritual growth spurt to occur.

It’s like pulling back on a bowstring to gain the necessary momentum to propel the arrow to its target. Of course timing and finesse are everything. Pull too hard and the bow breaks. Not hard enough and the arrow will fall short of its target.

How do we find the right timing and the right effort to flow within the many cycles of life?

Awareness, I find, is key. With awareness we can dance with the changes and demands of each cycle. With awareness comes clarity and readiness to move when it is time and to surrender when it is not.

I can’t say I have fully mastered this key. I struggle and resist when times are tough. I push too hard and the bow breaks. Awareness is a practice that must be practiced.

When I take the time to breathe, to check inside, to feel the sensations in my body and notice the disempowering stories I am telling, I am able to return to a place of calmness and clarity.

Well, not always. Sometimes, I just have to surrender to the discomfort of the life cycle I’m in for a while.

Another key is compassion. I am human. I will not always get it right. But that is actually a good thing because it is in the mistakes that the biggest learning and growth comes.

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