It's a journey that begins with becoming aware you are out of balance and recognizing the steps needed to bring you back to harmony.
So what is it that keeps us centered or takes us out of balance? On a personal level, I grew up in Israel. Life was different back then. News for me was local. There was no Internet. I knew only of the things that existed around me. Olive oil and the Mediterranean diet were part of my childhood. And yet, I was overweight and unaware of life outside my comfort zone, my own backyard.
My ﬁrst step toward balance began when I was 15. I had American neighbors who took me with them on a trip that would change my life. While vacationing with them on a kibbutz, I was offered tea and dessert. I ate the most unbelievably delicious cheesecake. I was shocked to discover that the women had made it without any cheese! How was this possible? I had never heard of vegan or dairy-free dishes before, and I was eager to learn about this new way of cooking. Yet, despite experiencing something completely new, that moment triggered in me a deep sense of familiarity. I felt it was a calling. That experience was also the ﬁrst step for me to recognize that my life was out of balance. I wanted to know more about the life they chose and how it could become part of my life.
Three years later when I arrived in New York City, health food stores, yoga studios and macrobiotic cooking classes were everywhere. I was a child visiting a candy store full of colorful cornucopia of choices. So many new ﬂavors, tastes, aromas! Practicing yoga, for instance, and learning to cook with umeboshi plum paste were new and exciting passions. These hobbies made me feel grounded, connected and created in me a sense of balance and a feeling of returning home, a feeling I had never experienced before.
Yet, like a swinging pendulum, I began to feel pulled in two directions. I struggled with staying grounded and focused on my yoga and healthy way of life, and yet I wanted to be like everyone else and eat fries and drink beer. I began to wonder how we ﬁnd balance living in this material world with so many choices. How do we move from a mind that is dual, with good and bad, to one of unity and wholeness where there is no separation? That answer, I discovered, lies within us. We possess our own compass to the soul. It guides us to look inside and encourages us to be honest with ourselves. Only then we start to feel radiant and shine with pure light...
So being balanced involves ﬁnding our own individual center. When things get rough, our tendency is to revert to our old patterns, our past scars. It is a comfort zone that often is difﬁcult to break. Being centered, or "smack in the middle," is a difﬁcult place to hold. But, if you let your center be carried by faith and a deep trust in the process, everything becomes open. The Kabbalah teaches many lessons on how to help ﬁnd balance. Here, it is said, a person can only learn when they are in a place within their heart's desire. Some ﬁnd the center in doing community service, others in devotion or in meditation. Spending time connecting with nature, becoming one with our surroundings, is another technique. One way is not better then another. Each of us has a unique path to reach balance.
Let's pause and consider yoga's role in this process. Our yoga practice heightens our sensitivity on every level. We begin to experience a reawakening of our body and our hearts. We are more alive and rejuvenated, and we are not only more open to our own feelings but we are more sensitive to everyone around us. We may even ﬁnd ourselves moved to tears when we hear a beautiful piece of music or watch a moving scene.
Sometimes our bodies communicate to us via illness. Surprisingly, this can be a blessing in disguise, redirecting us on a new path toward health. Only when I started to practice yoga and meditation by myself was I ﬁrst introduced to the master, the true healer within me. I didn't ﬁnd it in therapy sessions but in the silence within. I experienced balance when I truly went inward and dropped my judgments and became really quiet, quiet enough to hear. The pearl of wisdom lies there... for me, and for you!
In this silence true wisdom and harmony wait to unfold.
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