Living in Balance (Pt. 1 of 5)
“Beware of the barrenness of a busy life.”
Many of us cruise through life and ignore the importance of “a life in balance”. We live fast-paced lives, with increasing demands pushed into our days. Perhaps you are like me, where the first thing you reach for every morning is your ‘device’… to check who has texted, messaged, ‘liked’ you, through the multitude of media ‘connections’ there are out there to distract us. (Is there a red dot that shows me someone cares about what I had to say? Oh, the anticipation!) Fortunately, for me, I have included a meditation practice in my daily routine. That does help to balance things out. Still… while I like to believe I practice RPM (Rise - Pee - Meditate), the real truth is that I often practice LRPM (where the looking, at my devices, comes first).
Not so very long ago, in the days before each household had a computerized device (let’s say, the early 1990’s), life was busy, but it seemed simpler. We made plans, wrote the details on our wall calendars or in our daily planners, and… well, that was it. I didn’t need to text that I was, “on my way”; I just showed up. If someone said they were coming but didn’t, I called later in the day to see what happened. Do you remember those days? And yet, even that past life was faster than the life of my parents. Somehow, we are spinning into a world of conflicting information and ‘to-dos’. Keeping up can feel overwhelming.
Because our fast-paced, information overload lifestyle has evolved incrementally, over time, we don’t necessarily notice when we have begun spinning out of control. We push away our feelings, drive forward through the expanding demands, we ‘keep our chins up’, we ‘buck up’ and we, naturally, completely forget to stop and connect with what is really going on for us in the Present Moment.
My life hit a ‘maxed-out’ point this month. I feel overwhelmed with family events… a wedding, an upcoming birth, a big move out of the country, and an ailing 95 year-old mother. It would be one thing if it was all in one city, or even in one province, but instead, the situations I am involved in with my relatives stretch across the Western Hemisphere, from Toronto, to Bowen Island, Nicaragua, and Halifax. While I was busy ‘putting my head down’ and just ‘dealing with it’ all, an old back pain started rearing its ugly head. I even broke out in eczema! Fortunately, I have great friends who noticed my decline (because I didn’t). It was they who suggested that I ask for compassionate leave from work. Instantly, a pressure I didn’t even know I was under, released.
I didn’t know I was under pressure!
This is important to note. When we aren’t paying attention, we can get ourselves into these places without even noticing… and for many, the noticing may finally come only when the situation is past the point of easy return. I have seen people need years to recover from a malady they had no idea they were suffering from until a mental breakdown finally insisted that they take drastic measures to shift.
I want us to live lives in balance… always… all ways… all of us. This kind of pressured living is insane. Even though we may think we are helping others by working ourselves into the ground, this is a lie. We need to back off. We need to discover grace.
Since I am away for the month of October, our next four newsletters will include a contemplative idea and a practice. I invite you to make this a priority in your life. My commitment to myself is a 6 to 7 days-a-week practice of meditation, journalling and the reading of spiritual literature. It takes about an hour or so every morning to complete this practice. It is the base of my ‘work’. I also do some form of aerobic exercise 3 to 4 times per week, and I add some other learnings in whenever I can, to keep my mind fresh and active.
This week, decide what practice works for you and begin it. Make a commitment to yourself and your life, and know… that this baseline will be your foundation for living a more balanced life.