3 Simple Steps to Balance

Dr. Joel Ying, MD

Physician, Educator, Storyteller. He hosts this website for "Living the Present Moment" as a conscious journey of Body, Mind, Emotion & Spirit. Holistic and integrative, his practice includes Tai Chi and Yoga, Craniosacral Therapy, Healing From the Core, Meditation. Always exploring his edges, he shares them in the blog, newsletter, courses, and online study group.

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What is balance? You know it when you are there. You find center. Inner peace.

But you also know when you are not there. If you are like me, it might feel like:

  • Mind racing out of control.
  • I’m running and not getting anywhere.
  • Anxious. Confused. Sense of unhappiness.
  • Everything seems to be falling apart around me.
  • Disconnected.
  • Loss of meaning and purpose.

These are my 3 simple steps to regain balance.

Each step has a question to ask yourself.

Try it! It just might work.

3 Simple Steps to Balance

  1. Slow Down
  2. Get Present
  3. Find the Flow


Question: Am I breathing?


Stop and smell the proverbial roses. What’s right under your nose? Your breath!

We hold our breath when we are stressed, anxious, or afraid.

Take a moment. Let’s take 3 deep breaths together. Notice how you feel afterwards. (Ok, really, stop and take at least 1 deep breath and notice how you feel.)

In the middle of the day, when it feels like my mind is racing with all the things on the to-do list and I don’t seem to be getting any of them done, I slow down and take some deep breaths. I usually realize that I need to take a break so that I can be more efficient. The breathing settles my mind. Try it out for yourself.

Sometimes this step requires really slowing down. Take a break or even a vacation. However, the first step to slowing down is always: Am I breathing?


Question: What am I noticing NOW?

Too often, we are trapped in the mind clutter. Stuck in the past, unable to let it go. Or anxious about the future, caught up in expectations and attached to the outcome.

Eckhart Tolle calls it “The Watcher”. Mindfulness practice might call it “thinking about thinking.” However, this is not traditional critical thinking; this is just plain noticing without judgment of good or bad and without an agenda to change anything. Simply noticing. Just be the watchful observer noticing your breath with curiosity. “Isn’t that interesting?” The key word is NOTICE! Notice the inhale and the exhale. Notice the state of your body – sensations? seeing, hearing, sensing? Expand beyond the mind, and notice the state of your mind. Settled or racing? Notice the state of your emotions. What are you feeling? Notice the state of your spirit. Do you feel alignment with an inner purpose?

If you get stuck, you can always go back to Step 1: Slow down. Am I breathing? Let this be your anchor into the present moment.

We are multidimensional beings. We are not just walking brains. We are mind, body, emotions, and spirit. Notice what’s happening NOW in all of your dimensions.

Use the mind to get you to the experience of the present moment. This is not just a mind process, but a state of being for mind, body, emotions, and spirit.


Question: What am I trying to control? Is it mine to control?

Have you had that feeling that everything is going well? Life is good. That’s what many people call “the flow”, “the groove”, “living in the present moment”. Candice Pert says to follow your bliss. When you have that feeling, you are in the flow. We normally go in and out of the flow. So the problem is not that you are out of it, life events will do that to you. Just get back in the process of getting back in the flow. That’s where we might get stuck. Trust the process.

This step is about cultivating an “attitude of trust” that you will find when you are in the flow.

12-step programs use the slogan “Let Go, Let God.” This is a step of Acceptance.

The Serenity Prayer was first written by American Theologian Reinhold Niebuhr in 1934. I found it on a prayer card at church one day when I was around 10 years old, and even then, I knew it was a powerful prayer and beautiful piece of wisdom. For many months, I remember choosing one line to focus. “Today, God … give me wisdom.” When you are that young, somehow it is pretty clear that it is hard to do everything at once sometimes.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

Courage to change the things I can,

And wisdom to know the difference.

What am I trying to control (or do)? Is it mine to control (or do)? This is the wisdom from the serenity prayer. If this is mine to do, then find courage. If not, then find acceptance.

Am I trying to control the weather? Sometimes I worry about an event going well, and I get stuck in this feeling of worry. However, if I just make a contingency plan for rain (do the best that I can), and then recognize that what will happen will happen (let go of the outcome), and then know that it will all turn out alright either way (trust). In the end, I realize that worrying about the rain is not going to stop it!

I will not try to list the number of times that I have tried to control the uncontrollable or tried to accept something that needed to change. I’m still working on wisdom, but it is a process. Part of balance is getting up when you fall, and trying again. The Japanese proverb says: Balance. Fall down 7 times. Get up 8.

Finding the flow is about acceptance and cultivating trust. Letting go of the outcome, doing my best, and trusting the process. Life is the journey. When you are in the flow, what you need to do (or not do) becomes clearer. Just do what keeps you “in the flow.”

When you loose your balance? Off center? Get stuck? Just not quite right? Mind racing? Anxious and confused?

Use these 3 simple steps to Balance.

  1. Slow Down (Am I Breathing?)
  2. Get Present (What am I noticing NOW? breath-body-mind-emotions-spirit?)
  3. Find the Flow (What am I trying to control? Is it mine to control?)

Living the Present Moment Study Group

Wed Feb 22 at 7pm (1 hour). Listen LIVE or to the recording later. Register for the Study Group today to join the discussion of the 3 Simple Steps to Balance.

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