The importance of striking a balace

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Without balance, a life is no longer worth the effort.
— Olen Steinhauer

If there is one thing we hear about more than anything, I would say it is balance. We must eat a balanced diet, we must balance our chequebooks, we must find a work-life balance. Why is it so important? What happens when we are out of balance?

 

Balance is integral to life and order throughout the universe. Everything exists delicately on a knife edge and one infinitesimally small deviation not only throws one system out of whack, but has an effect on everything around it too.

 

If we were even the smallest distance closer to or further away from the sun, we could not sustain life on earth. If any of the planets suddenly began speeding up or slowing down, they would spiral out of our solar system or go crashing into the sun. And we all know the consequences of our ecosystem going out of balance, because it’s happening in front of our very eyes.

 

Balance is not a nice-to-have, it is essential to sustainability and longevity, be it in our natural world, our physical body or our mental and emotional state. If you want to live a full life without burning out, taking on a crippling illness or losing all those close to you and on a bigger scale, if you are interested in prolonging the time of humankind on earth, you need to make finding a balance a top priority.

 

Eat too much and you put on weight; eat too little and you get lightheaded and low on energy. Sleep too much you become lethargic; sleep too little and you make yourself ill. Work too much and you will burn out and likely destroy some relationships along the way; work too little and you will struggle to grow. Okay, we get it. So how do we find this Goldilocks ratio?

 

1.    Listen to your body. If you’re crashing, rest. If you’re starving, eat. If you’re feeling on the edge, cancel an appointment. Your body always knows best. If you are planning an intense workout and you just feel like doing a little stretching and meditating instead, it’s probably your body saying that’s exactly what you need in that moment. Honour it.

2.    Block out time to do those things you neglect. Maybe you’re a type A person and you need to block out time to rest, meditate, walk in nature, whatever it is you need to do to slow down. Maybe you’ve been feeling lethargic and you make a commitment to yourself to go to an exercise class. Maybe you need to schedule out some time to talk with a friend. Maybe you’ve been neglecting your personal practice (guilty) and you need to make an appointment with yourself to get on your mat. Block it out in your calendar like you would a meeting. Because it is, it’s a very important meeting with yourself.

3.    Take regular life reviews. Daily, weekly, monthly, whatever works. Look at everything you do and firstly ask whether it’s helping or harming; is it taking you towards or away from the life of your dreams? Nothing stands still, so it’s doing one or the other. Next, ask yourself honestly if there are any dominating energies in your life. Are you a workaholic? Or a party animal? Are you sleeping your days away? Are you eating a terrible diet? Are you neglecting your friends? Be honest and ask yourself what you can do to redress the balance.

4.    Plan your week in advance. Plan your time effectively so it doesn’t get wasted as you move through your week. Plan when you will work, when you will talk with friends, when you will meal prep, when you will exercise, when you will fill in the blank. If there is one thing I’ve come to learn since starting my own business, it’s that a lack of proper time managements leads to a chaotic way of working which is less effective and much more overwhelming.

5.    Set mini goals. Maybe it’s to drink 5 cups of water per day. Maybe it’s to keep social media to two slots during the day. Maybe it’s to work out 3 times this week. Whatever it is you need to regain some balance, see if you can set a small goal. It might just be to meditate for one minute a day. Start with one small thing until it becomes a habit. Then move onto something else. Make the changes small and sustainable.

 

When I got back from teacher training last year, I seriously struggled with the overwhelm of trying to start a business without any clue what I was doing, whilst working full-time and trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle. I tried to do too much, to the point where I was sometimes doing nothing, or avoiding by scrolling through social media. I completely neglected my own practice, I was eating badly, I was completely inconsistent and all over the place with my business and I was burning out before I had even started.

 

I was always tired, usually grumpy and couldn’t figure out how this would be a successful and sustainable lifestyle for me. I started to throw myself back into my office job because that was the only thing I felt like I knew how to do, and my business fell a little by the wayside, just about ticking along. This was not what I signed up for. This was not what I quit my job and spent all this money for. I had lost the balance and therefore lost my way and it is only recently I’ve been feeling more even and steady. I’ve been better at planning my work. I’ve been working out. I’ve been eating better. But more than anything, I am being kinder and more patient with myself.

 

We all fall a little (or a lot) out of balance sometimes and it is crucial that we don’t nosedive into a negative spiral which comes about when we berate ourselves for losing the balance. It happens, we are human and trying to do a lot of things at once whilst trying to stay sane. So yes, review the things you do in your life and implement small changes but also, treat yourself with kindness and compassion. You’re doing the best you can.

 

 

A reminder that I will be co-teaching a Yin / Yang workshop with friend and fellow teacher Kat McLeod of Wild Kat Yoga where we will be focusing on a whole-body immersive experience of balance between these polarities of Yin and Yang. As a society we are often dominated by yang energies which can lead us all to feel burned out, stressed and overwhelmed. If this sounds like you, be make sure to check out this workshop - there are still a few workshops spots left!