In a world where everyone’s advised to chill out and ‘find balance,’ it can be near impossible to catch your flow. You either need more of it, should work harder to achieve it, or be actively striving to maintain it. Harmony is the antidote to every emotional outburst, temper tantrum and tear fest. Feeling under accomplished, overwhelmed and all around somber and you will undeniably be told by one or more well-meaning person that you need more balance in your life.
So what does this prescription mean, exactly? Because the whole thing can leave one frazzled and cold and feeling like there’s just another set of rules to follow to live this life, ‘right.’
The formula is a common blend of general healthful practices that when applied each day, will allegedly leave us feeling grounded and mentally stable. Happy, fulfilled, and maybe even proficient in a super human kinda way. It sort of goes like this:
- Sleep 8 hours per night
- Drink 8-10 glasses of water per day
- Exercise for 30-60 minutes, 3-4 times a week
- Eat well, local and organic
- Do meaningful work, and make sure you make a living at it
- Take ‘me’ time, especially if you are a mama
Anything missing? Oh yeah, make sure you leave time to nurture your creative pursuits, make love to your lucky ones and prepare for tomorrow’s tasks in advance. Go on scheduled vacations and learn a new skill, too.
The thing is, I totally agree with most if not all of these justifiable suggestions. Heck, I even recommend them. So, if all these action steps are a guiding light to a life lived with purpose, then what’s the issue?
It doesn’t always work.
Following someone else’s advice on how to live our lives to the fullest can offer constructive direction and lend refreshing support. It can be the invigorating words we need to hear at just the right moment to knock us out of a funk. What throws us into a predicament is losing the ability to identify our own needs and serve our personal intuitive forces. By following a set of guidelines, we disconnect from what will best provide for us in any given moment. For example, you cut your night short when out with some of your best friends, not because you’re having a bad time, but because you’re preoccupied with getting 8 hours of sleep in before your morning yoga class. However, if you were honestly having the time of your life, that energy would enliven your soul and propel you into your class full of bliss on barely 3 hours sleep. Right?
My hypothesis? It’s not the lack of balance that’s ruining our rhythm and robbing us of vitality, it’s stressing about achieving balance that is.
And that’s just crazy.
So here’s my personal challenge to you (and me). For the next 14 days, throw everything you think you know about balance out the window. Say sayonara to regimented activity and relinquish control to the wise body, mind and soul that you encompass. Do please, meet your work deadlines and pick your kids up from school at the appropriate time, (and other such daily life responsibilities), but consider:
- Going to sleep when you are genuinely tired at night, be it at 7.30pm or 2.00am.
- Eat when you are truly hungry, even if it means you (gasp) skip breakfast.
- If you are super absorbed in a creative project for the day, don’t go outside. Don’t even check the mail.
- Tired? Have a nap.
- Do fun things when you feel unmotivated and low. The key, is to not feel guilty for watching movies all day.
- Yoga twice a day? Bring it. Skip a few days? It doesn’t matter.
See where I’m going with this? There’s nothing you should be doing and there’s no right or wrong. We are all unique creatures, and you own your own switch board. Tune into your frequency. When in doubt, take a few deep breaths and ask yourself what you truly need in that moment. Your body will cue a response, you’ll know. Record your thoughts if you like, keep a journal if you want to reflect on the process. I will, and I’ll report back with my findings. Stay tuned.
photo by Jake Laub
Often referred to as a little firecracker, Mara Panacci is an international yoga teacher and holistic nutrition expert. She is the founder of Yoga Renegade, your rebellious playground, and co-muse at Accidental Renegade, helping yogis navigate the branding and marketing underworld. Nomadic adventurer and wellness devotee, Mara leads programs and workshops all over the world.