Finding a balance probably isn’t a new phase to you. But I think in this day and age it gets overlooked as something that we can do later in life, once we’ve retired or had kids. In my opinion it is something we should be cultivating all the time.
This idea of finding a balance goes back centuries: Ying & Yang, Buddhism, Yoga, Ayurveda, ‘Everything in Moderation‘ etc. This is also true in nature, the Gigi Theory for example or in how our bodies regulate sugar levels, antioxidants etc. It seems then these balancing systems are all around us, perhaps then it’s a human truth. In Yoga ensuring you do the posture or movement to each side of the body is paramount, this is evident in every Yoga teachers sequencing. Otherwise we leave the physical & energetic body unbalanced, and this not only feels weird but it can create injuries. Also in Yoga, there is the concept of Brahmacarya which traditionally is interpenetrated as celibacy, but can be more widely interpreted as restraint or moderation in all things. The theory goes, if you have too much of one thing, energy depletion and frustration increases and imbalances occur. So it is good to moderate everything to bring about balance for a more peaceful existence or if it’s in your practise to reach Enlightenment. Moreover Ayurveda the sister science of Yoga, has its roots in treating aliments & health issues with opposites again to bring about balance.
One of the more common phases we hear today is “work/life balance” and this is what I want to talk about. Recently I quit my 9-5 career in the NHS, for a number of reasons (which I won’t go into now), but one of them was to create a better work/life balance, to do the things I love more of the time and to spend more time with my loved ones. This wasn’t cut and dry as I spent several months gradually reducing my hours to see if this helped to cultivate the work/life balance I was after. I found that it wasn’t and then quit completely. However this wasn’t the end in the search for a happy work/life balance, I’ve found it is a lot harder than it seems! Once I had removed myself from the thing I felt was causing the most imbalance (in my case my 9-5), then other things in life fill the time and space and you then begin to look & reevaluate them. For example, recently my partner and I have decided where we live is too far out of town and we have now found a flat closer to the city center. I have also decided that actually some office 9-5 work in my life wouldn’t be so bad after all, so I’ve looked at getting casual hours with the NHS. In short, finding a work/life balance seems to be an ongoing process of change and adjustment, until balance is met. This is measured subjectively by how I am feeling, which at the moment feels a lot better than it did six months ago, so I feel as if I am getting there but it definitely is a slow process which needs to be taken with a lot of thought (that does not mean you cannot make scary leaps of change).
That said if you are reading this and know you work too much, you’re in the wrong job only to buy stuff you don’t need, then I urge you to step back and take a look at your life. Is this really what you want to be spending this precious one life on earth doing? One of my favorite wake up quotes is: “This is your life and it’s ending one minute at a time” – Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club (1999). Think of that while your at work and soon, perhaps the urge to do something and create change will start to grow. I say make the time to cultivate the life you want. I know the classic excuses to this type of thing are: “But I have bills to pay and a family to provide for”, that may be true and I don’t advocate ditching work to have exactly the balance you want right now. Others and circumstances need to be taken into consideration. In fact historically in Yoga the quest for Samadhi (Yogic Enlightenment), was only to be taken after one had done their duties of raising children and supporting their families. But that was before careers, capitalism and the modern world came into being encroaching more and more on our time. I say you have to start somewhere, taking small steps and adjustments day by day. Be it leaving work early to pick your kids from school or going to bed late, so you can have a date night or looking for a new job that pays better, but perhaps offers more flexible hours.
If you are stuck trying to pinpoint what could be causing imbalances try talking about it to friends & loved ones and practise Yoga & Meditation. I know from experience this can help to create awareness of imbalances in your life. It’s these kind of small steps, evaluating how we are feeling, what we are doing and asking the right questions that are the way in my opinion to better work/life balance. Perhaps one day, I’ll tell you what it’s like if I get there…
I hope this post helps those struggling with the stresses and strains of modern day life. In kindness and light, James