Most of us spend our lives yo-yo'ing between excess and deprivation, living at one hundred miles per hour or crashing and burning at rock bottom. We overeat or undereat, exercise to the point of exhaustion, or lie for days on the sofa, we binge drink or juice fast, there is no middle path.
Our perception of balance is altered by the culture of hustle and the people we surround ourselves with.
If we have a social media feed of people fiber loading/volume loading their plates with food (lots of vegetables to ‘fill-up the stomach’) we think I balance is the addition of one singular weekly ‘treat’ on our plate.
If all of our friends are doing weekly ASOS hauls then we think balance is online shopping once a fortnight instead.
If we are bombarded with messages telling us to train HARD 5-6 times a week and do yoga/long walk/swim/cycle on our rest days, our perception of balance will be to do just that.
If we are used to people pushing our bodies (dancers, gymnasts, athletes), we will have a distorted perception of a balanced life, balanced body, and balanced mind.
If our immediate circle goes on one weekly walk and doesn’t order takeaway one night a week, we may deny our bodies enough exercise and nutrients because we have an altered perception of what is balanced.
Our minds might compare, but our bodies will never lie to us. If we slow down long enough to listen to what we need to do to balance ourselves out, the answers will be there.
I used to feel so guilty and ashamed of rest, foods I deemed ‘bad’, and time off work because I had surrounded myself with people who promoted burnout and facilitated my belief that hustling was the only way to live.
Slowly, I read books, changed who I followed on social media to those who promoted a truly realistic and thriving existence and started to work through the ‘productivity guilt’ until I started to find my balanced life.
Be the rebel of the hustle culture and slow down. Stop yo-yo’ing between extreme pace and total burnout. You have one beautiful life to stop and notice the steam rising from your morning cup of tea and to look up and hear the birdsong in the morning. When we find balance, we find beauty.
It is normal to feel as if we are not in control of whether our life can be balanced or not. And, whilst there are things we must surrender to such as nature, illness, or death, we do have the power and the right to find balance and maintain peace.
Finding balance can often be scary, especially when living to the extreme has been a way of numbing or coping with some of the natural discomforts that life throws up. This is where our yoga practice can be the greatest teacher of all. Our yoga practice allows us to connect with ourselves without the ego and our highest self will always call us to walk the middle-path in life.
What does balance truly mean to you?
Has your perception of a balanced life been altered by the culture we live in?
The powerful inner work can only be done when we develop an awareness of the moments where we betray ourselves on our journey to find balance. This awareness can be healthily developed in our asana practice (physical yoga practice). This week's exploration is two-fold-
Part 1- In this week's Yin practice, carefully notice your perception of your 'edge' in poses just like noticing your perception of balance off the mat. If you notice yourself pushing in a pose or shying away from gentle discomfort journal your thoughts around this without judgment. It takes discipline to stay with your 'edge' (represents ing the middle path) in a physical practice which strengthens us to stay with the middle path in life.
Part 2- Sit down in a quiet place and complete the following journal exercise.
Identify which areas of your life, out of the following, where you struggle with balance and explore how, with practical steps, you can make room to introduce a more balanced approach. We can discuss any roadblocks in our 1-1 session this week:
- Social media
- Self talk
Feel free to add more.