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Over the past few months I’ve had some shoulder pain, likely brought on by hours in front of the computer, so I visited my osteopath last week for some help. We chatted for a few minutes, and I told her about my shoulder and the causes I suspected—mainly that my life is a little out of balance, and I’m spending way too much time sitting at a desk lately.

As she moved my arm around, pushing here, pulling there, she asked about my workout habits. “I’m out of whack,” I told her. “I do yoga 3 or 4 times a week, but I haven’t lifted a weight since the gyms closed.  It’s been months.  I’ve really got to get balanced again.”

She paused as she pushed her fingers underneath my shoulder blade, putting pressure on the muscles there.  After holding still for a moment, she spoke. “It might be better to think of it as seeking balance.  Not achieving it.” she said.  “It’s not a goal that you’re looking to get to.  It’s a way of being.”

Her comment has stuck with me for days now. I’ve had conversations with multiple people about it and I’m starting to think of it as my own motto for 2021.  “Seeking balance as a way of being.” Has a nice ring to it, I think!

2020 has been a rollercoaster, endless ups and downs, never knowing what’s coming next, and steadily having the rug ripped out from underneath you just when you started to get settled in space. Living in a time of perpetual change makes it impossible to find an ideal point of balance, frozen in time and space.

This year has taught us that our balance is fluid, constantly changing and flowing along with us and with the world around us. Balance changes everyday because we are in a state of constant flux.  Our bodies, minds, emotions, worlds, are all shifting like sand in an hourglass.

Our physical bodies also have a system to help them stay balanced called the Endocannabinoid System.  Its job is to help us maintain homeostasis, and it does this through receptors that are found all over our bodies, in nearly every type of tissue.  Each of these receptors is like a communication portal that allows different cells, organs, and systems in our bodies to communicate so that we stay balanced and working properly.  Our immune response, appetite, metabolism, memory, and hormone cycles are all regulated by the ECS.

When you have inflammation from an injury or fever from an illness, the ECS works to relieve it by helping the body return to a state of balance.  There’s a constant ebb and flow between the body and the ECS, with the body communicating its state of being, and the ECS working to help the body find balance.

The process is perpetual, never ceasing, varying in each moment, and interacting with the body and its environment for as long as the body has life. It is a state of never-ending adjustment.

What brings balance at one time is not what brings balance at another time.

What brings balance now looks different than it did last year.  It looks different than it did 3 months ago.  It looks different than it will in a decade.  It is constantly shifting and changing because we are constantly shifting and changing.  Right now, my balance looks like hard work on the projects I am building– with lots of hot tea in front of the computer, frequent afternoon breaks for snuggles and kisses from my daughter, and midday walks with the dog to clear my head.  That’s what feels right and makes me happy.

My cannabis consumption is balanced differently now too.  It’s winter, so I rarely smoke joints.  In past years, I’ve always switched to a Pax vape when the weather was too cold to enjoy being outside.  But earlier this year, my family moved into a new house where my office has a sliding glass door onto our back deck.  Now instead of vaping, I step out onto the deck with my bong throughout the day. 

I used to consume uplifting cannabis cultivars infrequently, usually only at parties, or in the evenings when I wanted to stay awake or be sociable, but I find myself enjoying sativa more than ever, using them to fuel my creativity and calm my ADHD while I put my head down and work.  When I have my period, I’ll vape heavier cultivars while I lie in bed with a heating pad. Some nights, I let a heavy indica carry me slowly through the evening, while I spend time reading or watching videos.  Other nights, I take some RSO mixed with THC distillate before dinner.  My slow metabolism processes them along with my food, and I end up melting into a delicious, 8-hour-long, sound slumber around 10 at night. 

Just like the Endocannabinoid System regulates whatever adjustments need to be made to find balance, cannabis helps me resolve my own imbalances—with attention, sleep, or pain—and helps me feel good and happy and healthy.  Balanced, in other words.

Just like my pain told me that my exercise habits were unbalanced, we can tell if our overall life is balanced by how we feel: do you feel good?  Happy?  Satisfied?  Or do you feel bad, disappointed, or sad?  If it’s the former, amazing! You’re doing it, and in a pandemic-year nonetheless!  But if you’re feeling down, start to think about what in your life you can balance in a different way, and one small way you can shift your state of being towards finding that balance.