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Cecilia Michelson Headshot

Balancing Balance

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Everywhere you hear and read about "balance" as if we were all about to keel over, and unless we become aware that we need it and immediately start to worry about how to get it, we will indeed fall. But with all this balance-talk flying around, have we lost the true meaning of balance? Although there are indeed a lot of individuals out there who could definitely use some balance, such as work-aholics or "holics" of any kind, etc, nowadays everyone is encouraged to seek balance in their lives, even those with normal, low-stress 9-5 jobs.

Balance has become such a popular word that turning your life into a spa has become the ultimate goal. My goal here is to make everyone understand that yes, it's good and important to make time for oneself, for recreation and fun, but if it doesn't happen until the weekend, it's okay!

Here lies the problem: What all this balance-talk has done is create a split in people's lives and a culture of whining. Instead of promoting the integration of your work as a part of who you are and your purpose in this world, balance-talk draws a picture of life as a two-sided coin: the heads side being the good, fun, recreational part and the tails side, the obligations and responsibilities in life that are supposed to be such a drag.

Yes, work can be stressful but I believe that drawing this distinction only compounds stress as it creates a desire to hightail it out of there whenever possible because it takes time away from pampering oneself.

But just imagine if you had all the free time in the world without any obligations, wandering aimlessly without purpose through your days and nights? Would you be happy then? We human beings are naturally driven to seek meaning and it is our work whether it be outside or inside the home that gives us it. Some of the unhappiest people out there are those that have no outlet to put their talents or skills to use.

Of course you might think this is only a weakness and that a true yogi should be able to find happiness in doing nothing, But do hard-core yogi's really do nothing? No. They occupy themselves with serious meditation and exploring realms of consciousness. You see, everyone needs something to do.

FYI: Did you know that yoga postures were originally devised to prepare the body for extended periods of meditation?

Now I really believe in the transformational powers of yoga. I think it's wonderful and about time that it has become so embedded in our culture and that people find physical, mental and spiritual relief in it. I myself am a practitioner and have experienced its many benefits. But it is important to keep a "balanced" perspective on our dedication to finding balance so that we don't become more stressed out because of it.

With the increase in yoga's popularity many might be led to believe that only by attending yoga class every day or by abandoning your Western life and running off to an ashram will true balance be within reach. But by definition, balance is a dualistic thing, a yin and a yang, a little work, a little fun... and in yoga, it's the two-sided coin with gratitude as the rim it spins on. So what should be the real meaning of balance? It's very simple: Being grateful for what you have and do while loving yourself enough to acknowledge when you truly need a break.

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