September 07, 2004

The Hopi Native American word for “a state of life that calls for another way of living” or “life out of balance” is Koyaanisqatsi.

Since March of this year, and perhaps extending further back, my life has been out of balance; I’ve been in a state of Koyaanisqatsi. The depression in my emotions, the hesitation in my decisions, and the fear in my soul are all the result of being in this unbalanced state. As a child of Western culture and thinking I am sometimes crippled as my first inclination is to act, to use movement to leave the depression behind. That only acknowledges part of my integrated self. I acted when we moved to Kansas, and the depression and hesitation, the fear, continues here just as it did in Illinois.

As someone who considers himself on a quest for enlightenment I have pondered many times what makes up my integrated self. The image I have is of a four-side pyramid, with each side representing one facet of my self. The four prime areas in my opinion are physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. I believe that living solely though action, dealing with just the physical aspect of being, strengthens just one side of the pyramid, leaving the other three sides withered and unable to provide balance. Devoting yourself wholly to spiritual pursuits has the same result, the physical, mental, and emotional aspects of your being are not in balance with your spiritualness. Only by giving each aspect of your essence its proper due can you achieve and maintain as state of balance.

The first major unbalancing force that toppled my pyramid was the death of my sister, Amy. I was twelve at the time and it was decades before I finally put to rest all of the emotions her passing created in me. During the time between her death, and my regaining balance emotionally I struggled with numerous physical problems, and I was spiritually adrift without direction or even understanding direction was possible. Only when I started to explore my spiritual side, and strengthen its aspect in my life, combined with truly dealing with the emotions I was feeling towards Amy, did I start to regain my complete balance.

I believe I have experienced brief periods of total balance in recent years, but a lifetime of conditioning has made me reject these moments of clarity and understanding as aberrations. Through my relationship with Michele I have opened up my emotional aspect tremendously. I am strong enough now to express my true feelings regularly and appropriately. Physically I have started to care more about my body, not just through exercise or eating proper foods, but through actual emotional and physical care. And I have begun a deep and far reaching exploration of my spiritual aspect, rather than shunning it as I did for so many years. On occasion I think I have had all four aspect, all four sides of my imaginary pyramid in balance. I think of this balanced state as inflating the pyramid and turning it into a sphere capable of rolling in any direction without much effort at all.

The ease of life that comes from this transcendent state is alien and new to most of us, certainly to me. With no resistance from any of my four aspects life was almost too easy. The absence of emotional or physical pain, the clarity of spiritual contentment, and the smoothness of intellectual understanding created a state, which was painfully refreshing. Without something to push against; physical pain, emotional fear, mental confusion, spiritual ennui, I felt out of balance when in fact I was truly in balance.

As I go about my daily life these days I am depressed emotionally, and I am physically very tired. Mentally and spiritually I feel blocked and exhausted. I am in a state of Koyaanisqatsi. Looking at just my job, or just moving back to Springfield, or just caring for Michele, or just any one thing is not the way to regain balance. I must find it within myself to approach all four aspects of my being in order to feel balanced once again. Physically I must tend my body and care for it tenderly and with love. Mentally I need to seek out places of rest where I dwell on one thing at a time and not everything all at once. Spiritually I need to focus on my belief of essence, karma, and the Tao. And perhaps most importantly I need to deal with the emotions of quilt, anger, and fear I have about my situation.

My web site is named zanshin, which means literally “remaining mind.” In my life it has come to represent the state of enlightened balance we all seek consciously or unconsciously. Only by giving each aspect of my self proper due and no more, can I regain a feeling of harmony with myself and with the world I inhabit.

Author's profile picture

Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.