Living in Balance:
AMindful Guide for Thriving in a Complex World
By Joel Levey & Michelle Levey
Foreword, by The Dalai Lama
We are grateful to His Holiness the Dalai Lama for kindly offering his inspiring foreword for our book and to our many inspired teachers and colleagues whose insights we have shared in these pages.
“As our world grows increasingly more complex and stressful, developing our capacity for dynamic balance in our lives, work, and relationships becomes more and more vital. Based on the ancient wisdom traditions, contemporary neuroscience research, and the insights of indigenous cultures throughout our world, Living in Balance shows that, in each moment, we have the capacity to be mindful of whether our thoughts and actions are moving toward harmony and balance or away from it. Through this awareness we can make a conscious choice to continue on the path we are on or to change our attitude and direction. With a foreword by H.H. the Dalai Lama, Living in Balance offers a rare synthesis of ancient wisdom traditions with cutting-edge research on peak human performance that points toward mindfulness as being truly the key to living in balance.”
Foreword by His Holiness the Dalai Lama
Humankind has always been faced with problems, and in different parts of the world, at different times, people have come to varying conclusions about the nature of these problems and how to tackle them. One of Buddhism’s most relevant lessons is the avoidance of extremes. It teaches that freedom and happiness will not be found in the extremes of either sensual indulgence or mortification: a middle way must be found.
Today there is an overemphasis on the external world. Science has rapidly extended our understanding of external phenomena, and technological advances have contributed to improved health and physical comfort. Yet even in the most developed countries we do not find a corresponding increase in peace and happiness; if anything, there is greater anxiety and stress. Fear stimulates the need for terrifyingly destructive weapons systems, while greed gives rise to damage and pollution of the environment, putting the very existence of humanity at risk.
These trends are symptomatic of the dangers of pursuing external progress alone. What is missing is a corresponding inner development. To redeem the balance, our new frontier should be the inner worlds, and not the outer space. If the mind is explored with the same stringent scrutiny applied in other branches of science, it will certainly be of immense benefit not only to individuals but to society as a whole.
Within the world’s contemplative traditions can be found numerous methods for investigating and training the mind. This book summarizes why the adoption of such “inner science” is necessary now, and how interest has grown in the search for compatibility between contemporary needs and ancient techniques. It presents an array of methods for transforming the mind. These methods may seem relatively simple, but to be effective they must be applied steadily in a rigorous, rational way—much as a physicist or a chemist conducts his experiments—so that the inner scientist may both test and become familiar with them.
This book will be of equal use to anyone interested in exploring and transforming the mind. As more people achieve some degree of mental calm, insight, or the ability to transform negative emotions into positive ones, there will be a natural reinforcement of basic human values and consequently a greater chance for peace and happiness for all.
— The Dalai Lama
Note: His Holiness an advisor on many of our projects, and a long time teacher of ours once blessed us in our work saying:
“You are presently engaged in work that has great prospects for bringing the Dharma to a very wide section of people who may not under ordinary circumstances come into contact with the Dharma. I am very pleased about the work you are doing and send you blessings and prayers for your success.”
Publishers Weekly Review:
Cofounders of Wisdom at Work, the authors give seminars on stress management and mind/body health to corporate, medical, sports and government organizations. Beginning with the idea that “dynamic balance seems to be a central organizing principle of every living system in the universe,” the Leveys teach readers to “live in balance and wholeness” despite the pressures of today’s world. They stress the balancing of rest and activity, as well as attention to self and to others, to the universal and the personal (or “inner and outer” worlds), and stillness and motion. Their material is presented attractively and written clearly, mixing breathing and visualization exercises with theory that the authors have broken down into understandable, memorable charts and lists that highlight their most important points. The Leveys coin the apt term “learningful” to describe the zone of optimal performance, where working toward challenging goals is balanced with rest and recovery, and where the extreme “danger zones” of burnout and “rustout” are avoided. Applying their quest for balance to areas including mind, body, spirit, emotions, family, work and community, the authors offer a helpful guide for “walking the tightrope of daily life.”
Joanna Macy, Author, Coming Back to Life
“This book, like its luminous authors, brings refreshment to mind and heart. It invites us to open to our own inner wisdom, and brings us tools, visions, and whispered counsel that restore the blessed balance we each deserve.”
Margaret J. Wheatley , Author of So Far From Home; Perseverance; Leadership and the New Science
Living in Balance is an absolute treasure, filled with an abundance of insights and practices that lead the reader into depths of peace. But with all these riches, I was most affected by the love, compassion, and wisdom Joel and Michelle present in every page. Their embrace of the reader is the best testimony that these practices lead to lives of wholeness and harmony.”
James R. Doty, M.D., Founder and Director of Stanford’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE), a part of the Stanford Institute of Neuro-Innovation and Translational Neurosciences, and Clinical Professor of neurosurgery at Stanford University
“Today more than ever modern society makes demands on the individual for which evolution has not prepared us. Living in Balance gives each of us tools that not only will allow us to navigate through a complex world but allow us to thrive. By gaining insights into ourselves and learning techniques that fundamentally allow one to rewire their brain, Joel and Michelle have given us a wonderful gift…the gift of transcendence.”
Angeles Arrien, Ph.D. Cultural Anthropologist. Author of The Four Fold Way, and Signs of Life
“Rarely do we find a book that satisfies both practical and inspirational needs — Living in Balance does! This is a compelling and excellent resource for restoring balance within one’s nature and life.”
Roshi Joan Halifax, Abbot, Upaya Zen Center
“A beautiful book that brings wisdom and love into a world that longs for balance.”
Noah Levine, Author of Refuge Recovery, Dharma Punx and Against the Stream
“In this book, Joel and Michelle offer us all that we need to create a meaningful and balanced life. Anyone who follows these practices and teachings will become a blessing to others, a refuge for all beings. The revolution we seek must always come form the inside out.
Bill Duane, Senior Manager, Well Being and Sustainable High Performance Development Programs at Google (where we developed and teach Google’s Mindfulness and Meditation Laboratory)
“The benefit of Living in Balance is in the skillful weaving of the personal, interpersonal, and ecological perspectives with the fields of wisdom, faith traditions, daily life and science. It’s a pleasant combination of practical advice and inspiration that is very helpful as we seek to develop wiser relationships with ourselves, our community, our technology and our world.”
Philip M. Hellmich, Director of Peace – The Shift Network Author: God and Conflict: A Search for Peace in a Time of Crisis
“Living in Balance is a global priority. Joel and Michelle skillfully highlight the inner dimension to international crises. Through modern science and ancient wisdom traditions, they offer insights and practical tools to help us find and maintain balance in daily life — so we can contribute to creating a more peaceful and environmentally sustainable world.”
Velcrow Ripper and Nova Ami, award-winning filmmakers, Fierce Love Films
“A vital compass for navigating our way through this era of chaos and possibility. Living in Balance guides us on a deep and expansive journey, flowing with transformative wisdom. Lucid and engaging, it is a tonic for the heart, mind, body, and the world we inhabit.”
Joan Borysenko, Ph.D. Author of “Minding the Body, Mending the Mind,” and “A Woman’s Book of Life.” Cofounder and former director of the Mind/Body Clinic, New England Deaconess Hospital, Harvard Medical School.
“Living in Balance is the wisest, most practical and inspiring book that I have read in years. Joel and Michelle Levey are consummate teachers because they live the teachings, humbly and compassionately laying out a roadmap that anyone motivated to lead a happier, more balanced life can follow. The simple exercises and questions they ask were like light bulbs that helped me see my own life more clearly. This is one book that really does have the power to help you change your life.”
Larry Dossey, MD , Author of “Be Careful What You Pray For,” “Prayer is Good Medicine,” and “Healing Words.” Executive Editor, Alternative Therapies
“Living in Balance invites us to return to the inner source of serenity and wisdom within. Never before have we so urgently needed the clear, compassionate teachings that are so lovingly described in this book.”
Caroline M. Myss, Ph.D. Author of Why People Don’t Heal and How They Can; and Anatomy of the Spirit.
“Joel and Michelle have constructed a text of sheer brilliance. Every page offers new insights and truth. No reader could be disappointed by this book!”
Sylvia Boorstein, Author of It’s Easier Than You Think: The Buddhist Way to Happiness; Don’t Just Do Something, Sit There; and That’s Funny, You Don’t Look Buddhist.
“Michelle and Joel Levey have done such a graceful, personal and inviting presentation of the profound necessity to devote/dedicate oneself to as full a practice of living in balance as one can, without at all trivializing it and making it less profound than it is, but making it sound like everybody can do it — like it’s just normal — which is what it is!”
Karoline Klerk, Founder of “Compassionate Sweden”
“The world is craving a vocabulary that enhances balance in life and compassion in communications both towards self and towards others. Through all my encounters with Joel and Michelle Levey they offer just that and I’m grateful for everything they are offering me in my personal life and in my work. With a soft wisdom the new edition of their book “Living in Balance: A Mindful Guide for Thriving in a Complex World ” guides us towards our inner force and the bigger understanding we all need in this time of a world in transition.”
MJ Ryan, author of This Year I Will and How to Survive Change You Didn’t Ask For
“Joel and Michelle are not just experts in this field, but two of the most balanced people I have ever met. In Living in Balance, they offer not only cutting edge science and their own experience, but wisdom from the ages on living wisely and well. A must read for all of us seeking calm in the chaos of our times.”
Greg Fischer, Mayor of Louisville, Kentucky, an International Model City of Compassion
“This book is both a practical and inspirational resource for living our lives to the fullest while also encouraging and impacting those around us – whether it’s a single family, a workplace environment or an entire community of citizens. Living in Balance offers wisdom and depth gleaned from innovative, entrepreneurial and compassionate thinkers and doers; it is thoughtful, well researched and immensely valuable in bringing balance and productivity to the increasingly complex, challenging and global world we live in.”
Rivera Sun, author of The Dandelion Insurrection
“Wonderful! A radical yet simple approach that can save our sanity and the world! The timeless wisdom and modern science in this book offers critical insight for everyone working to rebalance their lives or engaging in social change. The mindfulness practices share essential skills for keeping calm in the midst of today’s raging storms. I recommend this book to everyone and return to its quotes and passages often.”
Karen Guzak, Mayor, City of Snohomish, Washington State
“I’ve known and admired the work of Joel and Michelle Levey, and have witnessed firsthand the loving wisdom and depth of their teaching. This book elucidates and enlivens their work and makes it accessible to anyone who is on the journey to find more peace, joy and fulfillment in life. As both a yoga teacher and mayor of a small city, I find the principle of balance one I embrace again and again. For what is there in life that is more important? Spreading health, happiness, and finding center in the midst of countless forces that might pull us off course. The Leveys affirm the many strategies we might embrace to find our way. This book is to be treasured and read until dog-eared and damp with sweet tears of deep recognition. “
Judith Handelsman, M.A. , Author of Growing Myself: A Spiritual Journey Through Gardening. Gardening columnist Vogue Magazine. Gardening correspondent/editor NBC ALL-NEWS Network Radio. Host/writer for “Inner Gardens” cable TV series.
“I wish I had read a book like Living in Balance when I began to work on myself as a young girl. Reading it now enriches my efforts to live life with awareness, understanding, and peace. We all need support to live mindfully and to cultivate lovingkindness so we can help ourselves, each other, and the natural world. Living in Balance contributes a body of practical wisdom-knowledge that is sorely needed in our present time.”
Rabbi Ted Falcon, Ph.D.
“I am at stolen moments rolling into your book, feeling supported gently as you describe the nature of my experience. There is such an elegant simplicity and welcome directness about your work. There are sentences that leap up to remind me of the deeper/higher levels, and they are so reassuring. You have created a treasure with which people can journey, through which they can receive help remembering what they already know.”
Thomas J. Hurley, Former Director of Education, Institute of Noetic Sciences
“Living in balance — the holy grail of our time. Both a possibility towards which we are always working and an experience available each moment. At its heart is trust in our basic goodness and our essential capacity to create whole and fulfilling lives, leaving nothing out, even in an increasingly complex, challenging world. What I love about this book is the respect and wonder accorded that process — and the practical guidance provided on how to find ones own path toward balance, harmony, grace, and happiness. Two wise friends have gifted us with a treasure —listen!”