A balanced life. What does it mean to you? This week I’m giving a lunch seminar at a tech company called “Balance Mind and Body”, so I’ve been thinking about this. Balance is often confused with steadiness or everything in equal parts. Really it is an ebb and flow of highs and lows, excitement and boredom, activity and stillness, social time and time alone. To me, balance is having a flow that provides adequate renewal for the work that you do, rest that rejuvenates you, and things that bring joy into your life so you can weather the hard times when they come. When things are balanced there is a sense of flow in our lives. We can sense when things are out of balance because we feel burnt out or ungrounded or anxious. Our mindful practices can help us to recognize when we are becoming unbalanced so that we can take some action that puts us back in the flow.
We can look at creating a sense of balance in several ways:
Balanced mind: When the mind is balanced it can focus on the present; it’s not stuck in the past or projecting out to the future. It can problem-solve rather than spin in circle or react thoughtlessly. And it can focus on a task and then rest and relax.
Take some time today to sit quietly today and watch your thoughts. Take just 3 minutes. If you notice things are out of balance, take some time to course correct. This may mean a little more meditation time or some journaling. It may mean looking at distractions that keep you from being present.
Balanced body When the body is balanced, it feels like a comfortable home base, can respond to daily challenges, and rapidly recover from stress. Too often, the body does not feel at ease, but rather signals some imbalance to us through aches, pains, and disease. Often this becomes our “normal”, but it not balanced. Sometimes when we are not taking care to maintain some balance, we may become too tired to be effective at what we do, or too burnt out to be productive. Eventually, when we get out of balance, we are forced to completely stop what we are intending to do because we get injured or sick.
Take some time today to sit quietly and listen to your body. Messages are there but we often pay no heed. What do you need to bring back balance? A more nutritious diet? More hydration? More rest? More exercise? A different kind of workout? Once you listen, you can course correct here as well. It may mean keeping a food or sleep journal for a few days, taking a break during the work day to walk or do some stretching or office yoga at your desk.
Balance between home and work Be present wherever you are, and try to avoid taking work home with you or taking care of too many personal things at work. You may still work a lot of hours, yet you can still create balance through boundaries.
Balance between work, play and rest: Your day is probably not divided evenly among these activities. That is, you likely don’t work 8 hours, sleep 8 hours, and play 8 hours. Although that would be pretty cool. Balance may mean you go to a relaxing Yoga class after a long work day. Or join a book club to be sure you make time to read. If you have a passion, such as painting, martial arts, writing or baking, make time for that, even when work is “crazy”.
And take vacation time at regular intervals. This could be a long weekend at the beach, or time in another country that’s on your bucket list. Maybe it’s a retreat, where you can get away, be taken care of, and just focus on yourself. If you think it’s a badge of honor to be that person who never uses his or her vacation days, you might be headed for burn out.
Balance, like peace, doesn’t mean you are in place where things never get chaotic or feel out of control. It means to be in that place, and still be okay because you know there are other aspects of your life that contribute to a healthy flow.
Join me on September 9, 2107, at Yoga Yoga Northwest for a workshop that can help you bring balance into your life; Bringing Yoga and Mindfulness to the Office. And consider joining an upcoming retreat: Elements of Connection, February 24-March 3, 2019 in Lake Atitlan, Guatemala or La Dolce Vita Sweet Life Retreat for Women, in Tuscany, May 26-June 2, 2018.