Blog by Reg Nugent.
One of the things that drew me to study Eastern traditions is the concept of balance. This led me to Martial Arts, Reiki, Acupuncture, Yoga and studying Taoism and Buddhism. In my treatments I often speak of balance, but it took me decades to really understand the principle and live it for myself. Beginning Yoga students strive to be stationary in balance postures – to never fall and hold a particular pose. This preconception of balance, not wavering, staying in the middle, not being moved off centre, is a common Western view of the word. I suggest here another more meaningful and pragmatic definition.
When on retreat in Hawaii, I was struck by the ferocity of this fertile and balanced ecosystem. Rain came heavily, the sun hot, and lava literally spewing into the sky. The ever-changing environment created fertility and balance even though these opposing forces appeared to be dueling. I realized that true balance has more to do with feeling what is needed in a given moment and then receiving it. The massive rainfall was balanced by the beating sun and the eruptions of lava, not unlike the occasional eruption of emotion, creates new awareness, conversation, and growth.
As our lives, families and bodies change over time, so do our needs and what we need for balance. Sure, this time of year some of us need to get back in the gym and harden our bodies up; but how many of us need rest and time to restore ourselves after the action and emotions of the holiday season? Perhaps after a significant birthday or life change, it is time to change the way we feed our bodies, minds and spirits. A major challenge of any long-term relationship, like the one we have with our bodies, is to see with fresh eyes who were are now and what we give importance to.
A break-through for me, was to implement a 10 minutes-a-day rule. At this time, I choose what is important to me (one-on-one time with each of my kids and my wife, Martial arts, Yoga, reading, learning Japanese) and I make sure I do it at least 10 minutes a day. I also make room for 10 minutes of dishes, laundry, vacuuming and other life tasks. In this way I can spend 1-2 hours a day getting my passions and important responsibilities done. It may not feel like enough, but over the week/month this consistent dedication of time adds up to results and fewer feelings of “I should have”.
Back to the idea of the dynamic/Hawaii balance, I also allow myself to meet each day as a new one. I don’t worry if I can’t fit all my 10-minute allotments in. I allow for some days to do less, some days to do more. So far, it gives me a responsiveness to attend to the many responsibilities in my life; more time when each needs it; and to myself, more time when I need it. By giving permission to flex each day to what is needed I can still find time for the top 3 most important tasks in only half an hour.
In Aikido we have a vertical posture and it is often referred to as our Integrity Line. This provides a simple body check as to how my day is going. On days when I get my 10-minute tasks in, I stand taller and my back/neck/self hurt less. As I feel the need to say yes to taking on more, I check my Integrity Line (am I standing upright or slouched and does this choice serve me and my principles?).
Try check in with your Integrity Line this month and see if you are giving it up, or keeping your integrity as you chose to act or rest.