I think I could focus an entire 30-Day Challenge on this one topic!
But to better understand finding LIFE BALANCE, let’s first establish a balanced asana- any will do; tree, dancer, headstand, warrior III, crow… I’m going with headstand!
The first and most important thing here is to establish your drishti, your FOCAL point. We did this yesterday in our challenge- this is the one thing (that WON’T move) that we can fix our eyes and our attention on. In a balanced posture, more so than any other, becoming free from distractions is critical.
The second step is to find your CENTER. In a standing posture, a person might shift their weight slightly over the foot that will eventually be the standing foot. In a headstand, it is a proper placement of hands, shoulders, and arms that allow for the stability of the head.
At this point, a person will ROOT through whatever body part is going to be the ‘standing foot’. Whether this is the hands, one foot, or the head- this is the ONE thing that will be placed on solid ground while the rest of the body does it’s job.
Next step… simply take the next step. Move forward, adding on (or actually taking away) a layer of challenge and intensity slowly and with deliberation. For MY headstand, this ‘take away’ involves these steps:
- I always take two deep breath cycles (I don’t know why, but I do)
- on an exhale, I bring my feet closer to my face,
- coming up on my tippy toes, to
- bring my knees up into my armpits and
- at this point, I ALWAYS pause and take another breath cycle,
- moving next into lifting my feet, with my core strength- no momentum involved,
- and finally, lift my legs into the air-
- stabilizing once there, as I engage and activate my core and my shoulders- see anatomy of a yogi
- … and if I am feeling really strong and stable, I start to play with my legs, testing my balance and my endurance a little more each time!
If I try to hurry this along or skip a step OR use momentum to lift my legs, I will either tumble or the pressure on my head is too much to handle very long and I have to come out of it- and usually the come out is a lot less graceful than if I had done a slow and steady lift. At the end of a balancing posture, it is important to counter the posture- something that will ease any extra tensions or stresses caused by the posture.
Finding a QUALITY Life- Balance is as elusive as the Lochness monster- we might see evidence of it in very rare moments, but the air is foggy and the image is unclear!
I think the pursuit of life balance may be the 21st centuries equivalent of the Fountain of Youth or City of Atlantis! I believe nothing eludes adults, parents, teens, and even children more than finding the right balance in this wild and crazy, highly intense and competitive world that we live in. Frazzled and jam packed schedules are not only normal, but often considered a badge of honor in modern day suburbia!
I referred in an earlier post to a TED talk by Nigel Marsh. He suggests that if we don’t design the lives we want to live, someone else WILL and, he warns, we may not like their idea of quality life balance. Hopefully, you took some time with yesterday’s post to think about your drishti. This will help you in defining and achieving a strong and steady balance, this gives you something to connect to and something to maintain your focus when obstacles and distractions try to force you off balance!
After establishing your drishti, the first, and most important step in finding your life balance is being open and honest with yourself about what YOUR LIFE BALANCE looks like. This has nothing to do with me or your spouse or your mother-in-law! This is about YOU- and ONLY YOU! Balance is NOT about cutting everything and everyone out in order to make time for the one or two things that you really want to do- that might be balance until the kids get hungry or the money runs out. This isn’t a compare with your neighbor practice, nor is it a skip out on class and just copy your friends’ notes- this has to come from you and only YOU!
The second step to finding balance is take it SLLLLLOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOWWWW! It is critical that life happens at the speed at which you can take it on, anything slower than what you like will bore you to tears and anything faster will feel like a huge roller coaster taking ups and downs, ins and outs so fast that you really just want to get off. There is a time and a place for both too slow and too fast, but neither pace can be sustained long term.
Consider the search for balance similar to speed bumps in the road. First of all, have you ever seen a speed bump on the freeway? Yeah, I haven’t either! There are times when we need to get from point A to point B, and it IS about the destination, not necessarily the journey to get there. But travel through a neighborhood or near a school- and speed bumps or traffic control measures are strictly enforced. Have you ever taken a speed bump faster than your car really could handle? It can be a little jarring to say the least. Speed through a school zone and you’re going to make more than one mother angry, not too mention the policeman who teaches you the importance of slowing down by pulling you OFF the road, smacking a hefty fine on top of the detour to your destination.
I like the analogy of speed bumps because it represents the number one reason that most of us will seek a life-work balance. The closer we get to seeking growth and knowledge and the closer we get to HOME, the more important the measures to control speed and the more loudly the consequences scream for our attention!
Like freeways, highways, city streets, and neighborhood roads, the roads we can travel to our destination are often our own choosing. There is a faster way to get from Ogden, UT to Logan, UT- but I like travelling the old highway so I can stop at the most lovely and delicious fresh produce stands I have ever been to. I can’t do it EVERY time I drive from one place to the next, but I make it a point to travel these back roads as often as I can, stopping to buy peaches every opportunity I get! We are at the wheel of our lives, it is OUR foot that puts pressure on the accelerator or chooses to apply the brakes- we get to decide how fast we go in any given situation of our lives.
And the third step to achieving a quality life balance is to only move forward when YOU are ready! There is absolutely no reason to go faster than your body or your mind or your HEART will allow. In life, haste is not only pointless, but often counterproductive! Anytime we power through, we are living a little like a bull in a china gallery (head down, breaking and smashing everything in the path)!
Envision a dancer who is dancing out of sync with the music and the other dancers onstage. It doesn’t matter how beautiful the dancer is or how talented, because she is out of sync, her talent and beauty are lost to our appreciation. What you are looking for is your rhythm- remembering that in this dance, you write your own music!
Think about the steps of taking a balance asana- how can you…
FOCUS: Find your drishti! This is your intention- the #1 reason you do what you do! This keeps you from letting distractions enter and cloud your perspective)
CENTER: Shifting so that the center of your life is stable and strong- this is the one change you can make, the one activity you must do to get you through ANY day, the goods, bads, and the uglies!
ROOT: This is a simple commitment despite any challenge that might come your way, to hold tight to both your focus and your center
Now LIFT: this is YOUR rise. The definition of lift is to “raise to a higher position or level”. Translated, this is where you elevate yourself to a higher level of enjoying life than you currently enjoy. This is the part that no one else can define for you, it can’t be rushed and it might change from day to day. You must honor this lift or it will be the one thing that makes you fall.
And finally, PLAY: Now that you are up here, take time to enjoy the view and the new perspective! What’s the point of getting this far without spending some time to enjoy the journey AND the destination. Remember, regardless of how difficult things get, a little smile on the face makes everything seem just a little easier!
I love this quote about balancing asana’s by Hilaria Baldwin “Dancer Pose is like a tug of war: If you tilt too far forward and don’t have equal resistance back, you are going to fall forward: if you pull too far back and do have the energy to resist forward, then you are going to fall backward. The lessen is balance. When you become balanced, you start living your life differently.”
“True greatness consists in being great in the little things” Charles Simmons (1893-1975)
Define YOUR balance and find ONE thing you can do to steady yourself enough, to root down and make the change necessary to bring you closer to your goal-
- 1 triple chocolate cake mix
- 1 c. water
- 4 eggs
- ¾ c. vegetable oil
- 1 small package instant chocolate pudding
- 1 cup chocolate chips
- 1 cup chocolate chips
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- Mix all ingredients (minus chocolate chips). By hand, stir in the chocolate chips.
- Pour into large muffing tins, mini bundt pans or ramekins.
- Bake at 350 until just barely done. These raise high so don't over fill your tins.
- Serve with ice cream topped with chocolate ganache if you'd like. Why more chocolate? Because I like to do it, that's why. Add a little raspberry balsamic vinegar to the batter and serve with raspberries for an extra special pizzazz of flavor.