Friday, August 21, 2015
I am an amateur practioner of yoga. Actually, I don't know if following a 30-minute workout DVD once every couple of weeks constitutes as "doing" yoga, but whatever. The few times a month that I break out the mat and work on my sun salutations, I reflect on the connections between the practice of yoga and struggles of everyday life: concentrate on your breathing, focus on your center, reach out, and above all, find your balance.
Back in the day, I used to carry a pocket Moleskine journal in my purse, a place to write down lists, notes and thoughts. Several years ago, I was visiting my oldest sister (a certified yoga instructor), and she led the family through a beginner's yoga class. While talking us through the various poses, she said something that I wrote down later in my little journal, something that has stayed with me over the years: Balance is not the absence of movement.
I often have the mindset that "balance" in my life means that each responsibility (family, home, work, health, church, etc.) is given equal time and weight, that each day is filled with equal measures of all activities. To achieve ultimate balance, I need to accomplish tasks in each category on a consistent daily basis. Anything less than that, and life is "out of balance" - a place where chaos and depression reign supreme.
Obviously, the only result of the above mindset is frustration and exhaustion. And this is where my sister's words of wisdom have had so much impact on me. Achieving balance in life necessarily requires movement: small daily adjustments, give and take, back and forth, trial and error, success and failure.
This realization has been transformative for me. Finding and maintaining balance, then, is not a magical one time deal and Voila! You're life is balanced! No; it's a work in progress. It's a daily practice, a daily exercise in experimenting and figuring out what works and what doesn't. And on the days when you find out what doesn't work, it's okay! This thought gives you permission to fail, so long as you use those failures as the momentum to move you to a better place.
This thought also allows for those imperfections that so easily weigh on your shoulders and drag you down. It's okay to not be perfect. It's okay to not do all the things, all the time. It's okay to let someone else take care of it. It's okay to exercise one day and not the next. It's okay to go to bed without having picked up all the toys in the house. It's okay to leave the clean clothes in the basket for a day or two. Or three. (Or four.)
It's okay to work late sometimes because baby knows you love him, and you will have time together later. It's also okay to not work late sometimes because your students know you love them, and you will have time to grade later.
The seasons of life are constantly changing, too, so what was important during one time period may not be important in another. The activity or responsibility just simply gets put aside for a time or slowly phased out.
I guess the key word in that phrase is really movement. As long as you are moving, hopefully forward and in a good direction, everything will be okay.
I will start my fifth year of teaching on Tuesday, and in years past finding the balance between the demands of work and home, others and self has been overwhelming, and at times seemingly unattainable. I am now looking forward to working on finding that balance each day.
I'm also looking forward to improving my Tree Pose. It needs a lot of work...