A Balanced Life

I’ve written about living a balanced life in earlier posts, but I really think this quote by international yoga teacher Rachel Brathen sums it up beautifully.

balance is key...

Balance

Today in yoga class, the teacher emphasized Balance.  Not just on balancing on balance one foot, but balance in all aspects of our lives.  That got me thinking – (not during class, but afterwards), about the importance of keeping my life in balance.

Balance:   A state of equilibrium; equal distribution of weight, amount, etc.; Mental steadiness or emotional stability; habit of calm behavior, judgment, etc.; A state of bodily equilibrium.

I try very hard to live my life in balance.   As a matter of fact this blog is all about physical, mental and emotional balance.  Living a balanced life helps me keep my stress level down, and also allows me to do all the things I want to do.  Of course not all days (or weeks) are balanced.  Sometime work takes precedent, or a family issue overshadows everything else, but generally speaking it is important to keep all aspects of life my balance.  It really isn’t easy.  This year I made a real effort to live in harmony, and as the end of the year is approaching, I thought a look back over the past year, to see how I’ve done was in order.  I welcome your comments and suggestions!

Mind

Work—I work from a home office, and so it is vital to have a defined work day.  While I am available any time, (thanks to cell phones and e-mail), I make it a point to shut my computer down around 5:30 get up from my desk and end my work day.  At the other end of the day, I try to get up, have breakfast, get dressed and be at my desk by 8:30.  The getting dressed part is the hardest!  I have to make a better effort not to stay in sweats until 5pm!

Besides work, I keep my mind sharp by doing crossword and Sudoku puzzles.  I’ve gotten good at Sudoku and can usually finish all but the hardest puzzles!  I’ve also put an emphasis on reading and listening to audio books this year.  I’ve finished quite a lot (more on that in a future post).  I also find that limiting TV time to just a few programs I enjoy and those that teach me something new, and not getting too worked up about the news help keep my mind in balance too.

Body

Exercise—As you know from reading my blog, exercise is very important to me.  But many days it is tough to fit it in!  In the summer, I could run in the morning before work or after work, but now it is very dark and very cold in the morning and evening.   I’m just not going to do that!

I have found that exercising during the lunch hour works great.  It is a good time to run (on nice days), my yoga studio has classes at noon, plus I can always go to the gym for 45 minutes or so in the middle of the day.  If I wait and go to the gym in the evening, it is packed!  Of course actually doing this is a different matter!  But then again, balance between exercise and rest is important too!

Nutrition—This year has been one of total transformation in my diet.  I have gone from just “eating healthy” to Eating to Live! (Thank you Dr. Fuhrman).  I have eliminated almost all meat from my diet (occasionally I’ll have a small amount of organic chicken, and I do eat fish about 1-2 times a week), and I have totally cut out dairy products—milk, cream, ice cream, yogurt  butter, cheese, you name it!  Truly I have never felt healthier.

Spirit

I’m including family and friends in this category as I believe they are important for spiritual and emotional health!

Family– None of my family lives close, and this is difficult on many levels, but I strive to visit family each month. I visit both my Dad and relatives (in New Jersey) every other month or so, and my adult children (in Virginia) the other months.  Often they will meet me at my Dad’s and so I get to see them even more often.   These monthly trips not only allow me to see my family, but also give me 12 mini vacations throughout the year.

Friends –This year I made a point to spend more time with friends by setting up at least 2 lunches or dinners each month with friends.  By scheduling the time, rather than just saying, “Oh, let’s get together sometime” I was able to actually do it!  I’ve been able to re-connect with old friends, deepen some friendships and even begin to nurture some new friendships.

Spirituality—This one is hard, perhaps because it is very personal.  Apart from yoga and self-help books, my spirituality is lacking.  I was raised in a formal religion, and for a few reasons, I have drifted away from that religion, although I still firmly believe in it and its teachings, I just don’t quite live up to them, and so attending church seems hypocritical to me.  I have begun to explore some of the more “new age” teachings, which really aren’t new at all, and I am learning that if you take away the labels, many of the principles are the same.  I also know that this line of thinking is totally contrary to my religion and that gives me a little cognitive dissonance!  Still much more exploring to do here!

To sum up my theory on Balance I would have to say:

Enjoy what you do and do what you enjoy!

 

I’d love to hear your thoughts on how you strive to live a balanced life.