As I am writing this, the moon is in its half phase which sends a powerful message to remind us of the necessity of balance in our life. I used to think that balance was only associated with intake of food and exercise expenditure. This seems so narrow minded now. It is through yoga that I have found the importance of equilibrium in all areas of my life. It is an area I have given a lot of attention over recent months. While I am still on a journey, I only now feel confident to begin to write about my experience. In a world where we rush around, ticking off our ever extending ‘To Do’ lists; balance can almost seem like a luxury. It is very individual and can mean something different to each of us. In order to spark some contemplation, I will share my journey in the hope that it may resonate with you.
Balance in my diet was the building block for me. Once I found balance in this area real change began to occur which integrated into lots of other areas of my life. While training to become a yoga teacher in India ‘ahimsa’ (non violence) really stood out and I wanted to incorporate it in all areas of life. One of the ways I did this, was giving up meat. This lasted for a year and two months. I genuinely didn’t find it difficult to not eat meat. However, it began to impact a part of my health, which I am not willing to compromise on at this stage in my life. So I now eat meat once a week which I am still not fully comfortable in doing. The way in which I eat meat is very different to the way I previously did. I now appreciate that there has been a sacrifice and I am fully aware and conscious that I am eating something that was once a living being. Ian as always has been very supportive and recognises the ambiguity I feel and has kindly given up meat one day a week to balance this out for me. It surprisingly helps a little bit but I still feel that it is morally wrong and it continues to be something I struggle with. I appreciate that this is my own journey and while I respect people’s opinions, I have made this decision for me as it is right at this time in my life. This change has also made me realise that previously I have been an ‘all or nothing’ type person. When I am extreme in any area of my life, I now recognise that it is a sign to take stock and reflect as it is usually an area that needs some work. This change has helped me bring a balance to my diet where there are no limitations on what I can and can’t eat and this works best for me in my food intake but also in my life in general. Now I choose to consciously eat for the health of my body most of the time but also for my soul and enjoy indulgences guilt free.
Once balance was acquired in this area, I quickly noticed that exercise was something that also needed some reflection. I love exercise and it has never felt like a chore in the same way that it does to a lot of people. With this in mind, I have had to learn to limit the energy I expend on exercise. I now frequently ask myself ‘What is using your energy Lía’? Is this in line with your goals and priorities? This helps me to find realignment when I go off track. All the while, remaining focused on the benefits of exercise for our bodies. It doesn’t have to be about slogging it out in the gym and dripping in sweat but simply walking more, accessing different ranges of movement and raising our heart rates.
I am an only child and as a result, love my own company. I therefore have to push myself sometimes to meet up with friends and family. When I do, I always really enjoy their company but making the initial commitment can be hard. In having an awareness of this, it has enabled me to carefully select those that I share my energy with. As I have gotten older, I have found that I prioritise the people that matter the most to me. I will always be there for people in my life that need support for whatever reason but outside of this, I surround myself with the light bringers. I have little time for negativity in my life and if someone disperses this at a high level I limit my contact with them. I really feel that your time is your most precious commodity which has enabled me to stop saying ‘maybe’ when I want to say ‘no’.
Work Life Balance:
I have also noticed that balance in my work life and personal life have become much more of a priority. Gone are the days in my early twenties, where I would work around the clock. Instead, I focus while in work, leave work at work and try to leave on time every day. Now that I am a yoga teacher as well as working full time, work life balance can be difficult to achieve. I am really passionate about both social work and yoga and this drive can sometimes result in me feeling exhausted by trying to keep both afloat. This is something I am working on at the moment. While I know this is an area of my life that needs some readjustment, with awareness I am confident that this will come naturally so I am pressing on for now and doing my best to look after myself.
Top Tips for Finding Balance:
Check in with your mind. How calm and grounded do you feel? Meditation is the first thing I do to access balance in my life. Meditation provides this answer very quickly. When I tune into my breath I immediately notice if there is an imbalance. Just even observe your breath for three inhales and exhales. Are you breathing from your chest in fast paced inhales and exhales? If so, try to deepen your breath bringing it down to your ribs and then your belly. A few rounds of this breathing can instantly bring a sense of calm which creates the right environment for some inward reflection.
Explore the areas in your life in which you feel imbalanced. Check in with your heart? Are you receiving love at the same extent that you are giving it? Are your mind and body in alignment? Are you being kind to yourself? If not, ask yourself what needs to change to fix this?
Make sure that these targets relate to you achieving balance. Re-look at your priorities and think of ways to insure that your actions are more in line with these. Start small, like maybe taking a walk outside on your lunch break to prioritise your health.
Learn to Prioritise
Write lists with your most important tasks in order of precedence. Ask yourself what needs to be done right now and what can wait. This enables you to maintain equilibrium in your energy output reducing the likelihood of burnout.
Leave Space for Fun and Adventure
Make sure that you aren’t too busy to allow for spontaneity. Leave gaps in your life so that you can enjoy time with friends and families when the chances arise. These are the moments that memories are made and are the times you will cherish.
If you feel that you are imbalanced in an area of your life it might be helpful to ask yourself these questions:
- What are your priorities?
- Are your actions and reality in line with these priorities?
- Are your heart and mind being pulled in opposite directions?
Ultimately, balance is something that they we all have to continue to work on. Our body is designed to keep us healthy and alive not to make us happy. This responsibility falls on us and it is something we have to work on every day. Recognise that both accomplishments and failures are a part of balance. Remember it is not a final goal but an ongoing process.
Happy Balancing! I hope you found this interesting and discovered something new about yourself in reading it.