Updated: Dec 9, 2020
As we embrace our day to day lives and activities it's very normal for us to have days, weeks, maybe even longer where we feel overwhelmed or even find ourselves in a daze, of confusion or feeling utterly lost. 'What am I doing?, am I doing the right thing? I'm just so tired'. When we move with the tides of life, we sometimes miss the day to day, most probably the hour to hour and we are already wishing it was the weekend.
But have you ever asked yourself why?
When we feel our state of mind is overwhelmed, we feel disconnected, from our jobs, our friends, our family, the shop assistant you didn't give eye contact to, the person you didn't see to stop your car to let across the street, and more often than not the conversations you literally miss because you are looking at your phone. Life becomes one big blur, and literally feels messy.
Yoga teaches us to recognise and feel all of these things, but how can we feel when everything is SO messy, I like the saying off the Mighty Boosh...VISUALLY NOISY. Sometimes I have found myself in crowded places and its 'felt' noisy. For me personally a quiet walk without a trace of civilization suits me fine, and I LOVE people, I love the energy, the personalities and the whole aura a community can create, but I also know what I enjoy more, how it enables me to fill myself up, restore and reset myself. Have you ever found yourself in a situation you would rather not be in, when you could of just said 'No'?
Sometimes we don't know the best way for us to create balance. You may have heard many times before different Yoga styles benefit our bodies constitution, or state of mind and our general personalities, if your a very busy person and you are always on the go you may find yourself being drawn towards HARD,FAST,DIFFICULT Yoga classes that challenge that amazing fast, busy, mind of yours! To help us create balance you will find you need to do the exact opposite, to help your busy mind rest you need to do nothing, and I know!! You're going to tell me you can't possibly do that!! ”But when I lie down and do nothing my thoughts are so busy”.This is the PERFECT opportunity for you to now listen, process and start unravelling. Do you often go to bed and lie there, not being able to switch off, suffer from anxiety, stress, aches and pains and haven’t had a good night's sleep in forever.
I'm here to tell you that as humans we have an absolutely amazing way of adapting, creating habits, breaking old patterns and can actually change the expression of our genes. (More on that here: https://www.yogajournal.com/meditation/yoga-changes-the-expression-of-your-genes)
While we can find ourselves creating bad habits, and openly admitting to ourselves and others that we have let ourselves slip, it is only up to us to create that change, and as easy it is for us to make a habit, we can also create new ones that are much more beneficial.
I can remember when Gus was a baby and sleep training him, not in the 'leave and scream' way, in the listen, feel and understand process. He would fall asleep on me breastfeeding and became reliant on that. Then I had to teach him to fall asleep in his cot, so before he nodded off I would put him in his cot awake, two simple things that took weeks... while this simple transition was happening I would play certain music and he would have his Blankey in which I would wear in my clothes all day. So he would always have my smell and these sounds subconsciously there whatever layer of the transition was. It then got to the point where he would feed, we would no longer associate feeding with sleep, he would lay in his cot, with music and Blankey. Then day by day the music got quieter, or it would only play in the 'bedtime routine', and all he needed was Blankey, he knew the routine, he knew what was coming and he surrendered, he felt safe and almost in control. Even now at 5, he goes to bed, we spend time being quiet, talking to each other, we read a book, lights out and fast asleep. No fuss. We don't need to complicate simple processes.
So what I'm trying to say is... the art of distraction, recognising habits, cycles you're always falling into, or suffering from. Balance isn’t about stagnation; it’s not about always being in the perfect, never-changing state of zen. It’s actually about rolling with the punches, about learning how to react and go with the flow. Through simple poses, yoga teaches us that it’s not about always assuming the perfect position, but about flowing through the movements at our own pace. You’ll learn how to hold your body and how to respond to changes in pace in a calm, comfortable way. Then allow this philosophy to translate into other aspects of your being, when life throws you a curveball, it’s time to adapt, to be fluid and yielding instead of rigid and brittle. As I have said so so many times before, your practice is teaching you how to FEEL. The good, the bad and the ugly.
Let's create balance.
Mindfulness plays one of the biggest roles within life/work/health balance.
Mindfulness is not dependant on form, you can be mindful walking, you can be mindful cooking, taking a shower, brushing your teeth, love making, sitting in a queue of traffic, drinking, changing the bedsheets. There isn't a right or wrong way, you just need to take the time to notice, every minute detail of the activity your engaged in. So next time your rushing to work and you find yourself in traffic, rather than cursing (because if you're late, accept you're late and you can't make time go any quicker) why not turn the radio to a different station and learn something new, turn off the news, flick to classical, look at the clouds, open the window and listen for birds. Change your perspective.
Are certain foods you are eating triggering discomfort in your body? Do you notice your sugar intake turns your body into an aching sluggish mess? Mindfulness helps you understand your body and mind, so start making little changes so you don't get into the familiar cycle "I'm gonna regret this!" find some self discipline and control yourself! If you know something makes you feel rubbish, as above, learn the art of distraction, find those tiny steps of replacing sweets with natural fruits. You can never overdo the blueberries my dears. Drinking plenty of water allows your body thrive, it enhances your digestive system, it clears out the body, it mobilises joints, it's the giver of life! Notice if you're overloading on every other beverage that can put your body into overdrive, like above with Gus sleep pattern, keep it simple. We don't need to over complicate our eating, drinking, sleeping, jobs or relationships.
For us to find balance, we need to learn to slow down. Even with our conversations with someone, listen to your own words and more importantly listen to every single one of theirs! By slowing down its almost as if we can create more time. Slow down making your breakfast in the morning, take a longer shower, when you manage to get out for that walk really take your time and find your own pace. You do NOT need to keep up with everyone else.
Find a comfortable quiet spot within the house even if its 5 minutes, maybe it's in the car before you drive to work. Close your eyes and soften into the body. Feel your breath, without changing the breath just notice the breath moving into the chest, and the breath out allowing the shoulders to soften. Meditation isn't about emptying your mind, its allowing you to withdraw from everything around you so you can focus, listen inwards and begin to process those thoughts. The more time you spend meditating the easier it becomes,
10 to 15 minutes a day is valuable in re-patterning dysfunction in your body and mind.
As mentioned above (way above!) Just be honest with yourself, are you a person that doesnt have enough time in the day to get all of your tasks done? Are you already planning next week before you have gotten out of bed in the morning. You may be the opposite and find yourself with no motivation or oomph to get you going, especially with lockdown over these past few months I've loved making the most of my time in bed... and I'm a big bed person. Then we find ourselves midday wondering what to do with our time. So whatever mindset you're in be clear with yourself and accept you may be living life fast or slow, but start to create a contrast. It only needs to be a simple and small step. If you're in need of a break, go to bed early, turn off your phone if you find yourself lying in bed at 10pm STILL replying to emails, take a bath without any distractions, go for a walk in a place you have never been before, make a mindful meal, and do a yoga practice that is the COMPLETE opposite to what you 'know you're good at'. If you are lacking motivation, set your alarm a little earlier and let it trigger a 'mindful mix' radio station, make the effort to eat food you enjoy, pick a book off the bookshelf and read a chapter a day, reach out and talk to an old friend, watch motivating and uplifting videos, make an effort to acknowledge what saps your energy, and again, explore a yoga practice that CHALLENGES you!!
As we move through this life, recognise every single step you take now, sets you up for your future. Every conversation you have with someone needs to be open, authentic and true, whether you feel good or bad, whether it hurts or is upsetting, to create balance we need to communicate to ourselves honestly. Its okay for you to have a bad day, accept it as a blip and see what it teaches you, are you actively creating changes to better yourself or are you blaming someone else and expecting them to make the change for you?
Change is inevitable, nothing is permanent. We have the freedom to become a better person, to create the life we want, to create balance so we are well rounded within our bodies, minds and hearts. Know that you have the power to do anything you want in life, the only person holding yourself back, is you. xx