Images of balance like this have always intrigued me. Lately, I have felt that it is crucial to find balance in my life. A few years ago, that would have meant a better balance between my work and the rest of my life. The fact is that I didn’t do a very good job of this, because I ended up adding so much to my plate that I got cancer. There’s nothing like getting really, really sick to force us to rest.
If you asked me how to achieve a balance between work and everything else, I would tell you to find at least two activities that you like so much that you can’t wait to do them. Something you really look forward to. These can be interests that you share with your spouse, your friends, or your children. Or they can be interests that you can pursue by yourself, especially if you’re the type who needs to have a little cave time every once in a while.
If you are single and like animals, I recommend a pet who will be there to greet you when you get home. A pet is a reason to give love, a reason to go home from work. Having a pet ensures that you won’t spend too much time at work, because you have to go home and feed, walk and play with your pet. In fact, anything that gets you out of the office or workplace is good for achieving balance.
If you feel you don’t get out enough, find some groups to join. Meetup.com is ideal for this. You can join Meetup for free and plug in your location, then indicate your interests, and a list of groups with those interests that meet in your area are listed. Some areas don’t use Meetup as much as others, but you can give it a try, anyway. If there’s nothing going on in your area now, Meetup will inform you by email if anything should develop. I joined two writers’ groups, a book club, a group of people learning Ikebana (Japanese flower arranging), a group of people who like to travel, and a group of people who are interested in simplifying their lives and learning to live sustainably and more in harmony with nature.
Balance isn’t all about work versus home, though. Emotional balance is important, too. A lot of people have told me over the years that I seem to have my ducks all in a row, emotionally, but then, I don’t generally show feelings of anger, fear, or grief in public. Most of us go out of balance once in a while. Those of us who stay out of balance long enough get cancer – and it’s a big surprise if the person tries to keep everything bottled up inside. Been there, done that.
I’m not saying that the cancer was completely due to emotional imbalance. There were some physical factors, as well. But the emotional imbalance did not help matters. If you asked me what I should have done to avoid the imbalance, I would tell you that I should have taken a “mental health day” more often. I should have gotten out of town more often on weekends and during Spring Break. I should have said “no” more often when people asked me to take on responsibilities. I should have prioritized the things in life that were making me unhappy, and I should have made an effort to let go of the low-priority things and find some way to deal with the high-priority things.
On the plus side, I have learned to meditate to the point that I can get into a meditative state almost instantly. I have learned to chant HU, an ancient name for God that anybody from any religion can use. It’s pronounced like the word “hue.” Chanting a word like this (some people use AUM, another spiritually charged word) forces us to breathe deeply and mindfully. It provides a focus for the little “chatterbox” inside everybody’s head. It also helps people raise their vibration so that they are literally vibrating in harmony with God. I can’t stress enough how important it is to find a way to meditate. You can listen to gentle, New Age style music or a restful piece of classical style music, such as Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata.” You can listen to any number of guided meditations, either online or on a CD. To listen to thousands of people chanting HU (and chant along with them, if you like), click here. You can listen to a five-minute file or a 20-minute file, or you can watch the video that explains more about HU.
Once you are in meditation, go within and create yourself a perfect hide-away, in whatever setting you like, such as a quiet wooded area, an ocean beach, a riverbank, a meadow, or a quiet garden. Your hide-away can be a small cabin or a little cave in a hillside. It can be a gazebo or a lean-to tent that is open to the air. Imagine every detail of it, and furnish it as you wish. Come here whenever you need to feel at peace. At some point, you will be able to go to your special place on a moment’s notice and even five minutes spent in your special place will be enough to calm you down enough to go on with your routine.
Whatever you do to find balance in your life, it has to be a conscious effort. It never just happens.
Another piece of advice that is more important to me now as a retiree than it was when I was working is a reminder that when I learned to ride a bike, or even when I learned to walk, the trick to keeping my balance was to keep moving. That’s not to say that I have to set a frenetic pace. Just keep moving along. Keep getting out of bed in the morning, keep getting outdoors, keep going places and doing things – even if it is only one thing each day, and keep socializing with people.
That’s why I write blogs nowadays: because it keeps me moving. Maybe not physically with my legs, but certainly mentally. 🙂