If you have ever participated in a yoga class before, you are likely to have encountered a one-legged balance pose. It is even more likely that once you are in that balance pose, you discover just how challenging it is to focus and stand on one leg quickly discovering the subtle and not so subtle shifts and sways of your body’s constant state of micro-movement. You may even find that the more you grip, the more you lose your balance and, the more you allow yourself to move into the shape of the shifts and sways the more you actually stay in the balance for longer periods of time.
Perhaps you are reading this as a non-yogi and have never experienced a balance pose so that the description is elusive and leaving you in a state of brain processing torpor. That being said, yogi and non-yogi alike, we all have a very intimate relationship with balance in our life. We balance schedules, activities, and time with our family. At least, we try to balance these things. If anything, achieving balance may be the most elusive thing in our life and, interestingly enough, our bodies are constantly seeking a state of equilibrium. Believe it or not, we are highly sensitive organisms. We can push, pull, and exert our selves to perfection, but we do so at the cost of shifting our balance off kilter. Balance is found in the constant state of symbiosis with our environment. It is akin to the life process of a flowering plant and the potential pollinators it attracts.
So, how do we reach this altered consciousness state of balance that we are seeking, but seems to slip right through our fingertips like we are gripping at sand? Well, it sounds simple, but is quite challenging – dedicate your whole life, all of your precious energy, to growing the best you in each and every moment. Balance is found there, in each and every moment. Not some of our life, but all of our life. This means holding your most precious resource as golden and that resource is you. But, here’s the thing; we are not isolated. We live in relationship to everything in our world. We must keep our relationships in this world in constant tune to reap the golden fruit. Let’s break this down and dig in a little deeper.
We have 3 main relationship classes and in each of those classes we have 3 subsets. This means that we have 9 different relationship dynamics going on at any given moment in our life and that’s just for us! If we only add in one more person, we are looking at 18 different relationship dynamics. You can do the math on any given family and perhaps your vision blurs a bit from the dizzying nature of just thinking about it. As a side note, I am not addressing how these relationship dynamics play out in the unconscious versus conscious awareness, so for the purposes of this piece, I will only be addressing these relationship dynamics as it relates to our conscious awareness.
~ Relationship With Self
Our relationship to the self is the most important tune up we can maintain. This is the mechanism we know of all other relationships. If we don’t have a solid relationship with our self, then we will taint the way we connect to the other important relationships in our lives. At any given time, when we are speaking of the relationship with ourselves, we are also looking at 3 subcategories (and of course, there will be overlap). All classes and categories have the same sustenance requirements of nourishment, exercise (using energy that metabolizes the nourishment properly), and rest. The 3 subcategories are mind, body, and spirit. Let’s briefly address each of them.
Our minds need exercise, the kind that engages both the left and right side of the brain. Not only do they need sleeping rest, they need the rest found in quiet space. Our minds require mindful moments. This is important everyday.
Like our minds, our bodies require conditioning. Seek out those things you love to move the body. Whether it’s walking, running, skiing, roller blading, or some kind of team sports. Find something that you love while moving your body in healthy ways.
When we talk about spirit, we are connecting to the intangible realm. We feel it, but we can’t put our hands on it. Sometimes we can understand this level of our existence more if we refer to our heart center. Asking ourselves things like – What makes my heart feel good and happy? Brighten your heart space a little bit each day by doing those things that make you come alive. It could be writing, painting, gardening, volunteering, making stuff, etc.
~ Relationship With Other
Let me make full disclosure here that by “other” I mean that part of us that is in fact different from the other people in our lives. The term is not intended to be used in a derogatory or negative way. I simply mean the “otherness” that makes us unique individuals worthy of celebrating in our uniqueness together. So, the term “other” attaches to ego, personality, and our unique biological and neurophysiological make-up.
That being said, our second relationship class is our relationship with the many others in our lives. I’ve categorized this main class into 3 subcategories. Here they are: family, friends (including colleagues, strangers, pets), and romantic partnerships. Let’s take a brief look at each.
This is a big subcategory, because we have our nuclear family and our extended family. Family times are good times. If you haven’t experienced this quite yet, when you get things in good balance, you will. It’s important to know our limits when it comes to interacting with the others in our lives and especially with family. Don’t overstay your welcome so to speak. Find the common thread and do something together, but make sure to put a time limit on it. If there’s no common thread, compromise or take a vote. It’s always fun to try something different and to get out of our comfort zones.
– Friends (including colleagues, strangers, and pets)
This is a subcategory that we probably fill our time up more easily and readily than any of the others. However, that being said, if you have the I’m-too-busy-hat on, then take it off now. Make time for the friends in your life. This kind of time isn’t going to happen, you have to carve the time out of your schedule and mark it down. Don’t go stale here, keep it regular. It can be a quick cup of coffee or tea, or mid-day lunch, or a long adventure.
Keep it fresh by loving your own amazing life and doing all those wonderful things solo, but at the same time, always do something together. Don’t depend on your romantic partner to be your best friend or to provide the happy stuff for you. This is your sole duty and then you both can share in that together, you know that happy stuff that you create for yourself. Have separate friends and activities, and do have some overlap, but too much alike and togetherness is the perfect recipe for fizzling in friction. Complement each other, but don’t consume each other.
~ Relationship With Environment
This is the final class of relationship dynamics. Our relationship to our environment is has the following 3 categories: work, play, and the natural world. Understandably, these will have some overlap as well.
Our work is what sustains us to live freely in our civilized post-modern world. Since most of us have not taken any vows of poverty and are not living in a cave, we are going to work for a good portion of our lives. Work at something you love. And, if you don’t like your work, take up a hobby that you love and perhaps one day you can turn your hobby into your dream job.
This is the time we all get to be kids again. Playtime is happy making time! Sure, vacations fit under here, but life is way much more fun than our vacations. Playtime doesn’t have to be the ultimate adventure every time. We can bring playtime in our life by bringing in family board game night, throwing the Frisbee, having dance hour, or visiting a museum, etc. Whatever you decide to do, make sure your playtime is fun for you. Still plan the vacations and adventures, but also begin to think about playtime as something more than the big planned out stuff. Do what makes your heart glow and feel like a kid again.
– Natural World
Discover the healing power of nature. Whether you are walking to and from the office, out on a walk around the park, or hiking up a mountain, we all have a relationship with nature. The natural world is healing. But, here’s the key. It’s all about perspective. Whether you love it or hate it, we all spend some amount of time outside. Make the best of it, especially those that shun the outside world and can’t wait to get back into their cozy womb that we call home.
All of my life in this moment is a journey of navigating these relationships everyday. Certainly we can choose to dodge some of these relationship dynamics, but the consequences are not really living a life fully lived. To live all of our life in the moment is to embrace the juggle, to dance with the chaos, and to invite the challenge in it’s different manifestations as it greets us unabashedly everyday we wake up, and to respond with openness and love and say “This is my life, I accept the dance!”
We are all unique and have gifts to offer every person whether family, friend, or foe in our life and if we decide to live all of our life in in this moment then we will honor the cycle of life as its been created for us to enjoy. We will honor the sacred symbiotic relationship between ourselves and everything else we are in relationship with outside of us.
As a Park Ranger from Big Bend National Park comments about the life of the century plant, “The Hummingbird feeds on the flowering stalk of a century plant. These agave spend all their energy growing tall flowering stalks which attract pollinators like birds, bats, and even moths. After this takes place, the plant’s purpose is fulfilled and begins to die.”
We are much like the life cycle of the century plant. We may not grow tall flowering stalks, but if we do choose to spend all of our energy on growing an open heart, courage, and authentic kinship in all the relationship dynamics that we encounter in any given day, then we too will attract pollinators in our life, those people that seek our nourishment and spread the love throughout the world. When that cycle comes full circle, we too will return to dust and our love will bloom in the hearts of the young infinitely pollinating all of our life in this moment.
Om Shanti Om ~ Athea