What is a Balanced Life?
Like many other people around the world, the last few months have brought me in -
inside the house, inside my body, inside my mind. Suddenly, we're all forced to consider what "normal life" really means.
One of the first things I realized was how much time I've been spending away from home.
I've had so much more time here now - time normally spent driving around, racing from place to place, seeing as many clients, and teaching as many classes as possible. I've been reflecting on this a lot lately as I spend more time doing projects around the house, working on a book, being in the garden, cooking for my family, etc...
Lately, I've had a real sense of contentment (most days) about my own personal life. But I've also had moments of guilt - how can I feel so at ease when others are experiencing suffering?
There's something I say sometimes when teaching Yoga class (sure I picked it up somewhere, can't remember where) - "There's a time for movement, and a time for stillness."
We come to our mats to move and breathe together through various asanas, or physical postures. As we practice, we have opportunities to notice the contrast of movement and stillness in our own bodies. Eventually, we might even start to admire it.
We start to find ourselves at the center of a beautiful state of flow.
We can admire a flow to Nature - Solar systems are created, the Earth rotates, seasons change, life happens, death happens, life happens again, etc...
When practicing Vinyasa Yoga, there are many ups-and-downs - sometimes literally - and often we refer to "the flow". The movement, followed by the stillness, co-existing together, happening at the same time.
We realize that when our bodies appear still and resting, there is still so much movement happening - our breath is gently stretching our chest and midsection, our eyes still blink, hearts still beating, blood still flowing, organs still working, cells still functioning, etc...
Imagine then, all the work happening at every moment you are alive - how often do we get to slow down and really simply allow that miracle to happen without feeling like we should be doing something else?
Sometimes, when we come to the moments of stillness when everything is simply happening without us needing to control it or think about it, we can start to wander into a place of stillness in the mind. My Yoga practice is just that - it's a practice. And after nearly 20 years, I still feel like a beginner most days. But I keep practicing, nearly every day.
And this is the answer to my question - how can I feel so at ease when others are experiencing suffering?
Yoga practice is steady and constant. It can be done anywhere, in any situation. It doesn't have to be the movement, it can be the stillness. For most of us, that's the part that really takes practice.
Through Yoga, I know that a pathway to peace and contentment is possible by finding my breath and following its movements. And so, those tools and practices serve me now. It's a choice that is available to make at any moment - to follow the breath in, and see where it takes me inside my own body. To remember all the little miracles that are already happening, despite my thoughts and actions (or inactions).
While I know that others are experiencing suffering, it becomes all the more important to stay in a place of contentment. Providing steadiness to others is mostly what my job is as a teacher. Some people call it "holding space". Balanced Life Trainer = steady space holder.
Oh, but I'm not perfect.
There have been days over the last few months when I've gone to bed early or stayed in bed late. Some days, I take a nap and others I'm up through the night. Some days I feel motivated and others I want to eat snacks and watch tv.
Through my Yoga I've learned not to judge myself so harshly - above everything else, to be EASY.
Some days the stillness is enough. Some days, it's exactly what we need.
All I really know is that you can make a new choice, in this new moment, and give your Self what it needs at that moment, and that it gets easier as you practice it.
That's what I help people do.