It’s funny, as much as I preach about balance in my yoga classes, it’s something I struggle with myself.
I read somewhere that instead of trying to be “balanced,” you should strive for “integration.” Balance has an element of removing something to make the balance scale just-so, and integration has more of an all-encompassing feel….where you can include everything and don’t have to give something up. In my effort to integrate everything I want into life – more like, into a time span from February 20-March 10th – I’ve discovered just how easy it is to have “integration” turn into a sinus and chest infection.
I’ve spend the last week sicker than I’ve been since I had norovirus in 2002. So, partly this post is an apology for neglecting the blog for the last while, and partly to share my new (hopefully permanent) outlook on life, balance and integrating all the things I love and do in a healthy (not over taxing) way.
From March 5-8th, I was in Fort Collins Colorado, taking a training course with Alan Wolfelt through the Center for Loss and Life Transition. It was a deeply profound learning experience for me, both personally and professionally. Dr. Wolfelt is an amazing inspiration, and left us all with knowledge, light, and skills in walking along side people who are grieving, and most importantly, continuing to mourn and grieve our own losses. It was an emotional, authentic and penetrating week. I loved every minute.
In talking so much about death, I began to really take stalk of life – what really matters, what I really want to do, where my heart and soul are called, what my life path has carved out for me – you know, stuff like that.
I came home overflowing with ideas of things to add to my classes, and plans for my future in the area of bereavement support. I also came home with a nasty bug – which apparently had more control over my ambition to change the world than my excitement and plans. I’ve spent the last week lying on the couch and drinking fluids. Attending to only things that REALLY mattered, and I realized, that isn’t very much. Outside of letting people I love know I was OK, and feeding the dog, nothing else HAD to get done.
I did have lots of time for the seeds that were planted in Colorado to be watered and nurtured in the recesses of my mind. I started thinking about how much of my stress is self imposed from creating deadlines and to-do lists in my own head. I thought about how much I do that doesn’t really align with my deepest goals and values. I thought about what I really wanted to do and share in this lifetime…how do I want to live my days? I stewed for a while about the “I-never-have-any-time” excuse that is the reason I’m not doing more of the things I truly love – mountain biking and writing. How is it that I don’t have time for the things I truly love, yet the things that are just so-so seem to take up all my time? If I were to die tomorrow would I have any regrets?
Spending a week immersed in death and grief culture, I was reminded just how much my life has been transformed by the losses I’ve experienced. I also was gently reminded that moving towards reconciling these losses is something that I’ll never be finished with….as I change and transform, it brings up new and old aspects of my grief.
I’m not saying being sick is the “new yoga” but this past week sure was a rich time for self-reflection and self awareness. With nothing else to do, and no where else to go, I had the time and space to reflect on my deepest desires and how I want to live life. Any sort of contemplative/self awareness practice can provide this space.
So my revelation is that balance and/or integration doesn’t have to be a struggle. I’ve decided that by doing the things that speak to my soul – and letting the rest go – I can stay aligned with living my life from my deepest most authentic place. When we have experiences in our life that really make us understand what is important, it’s hard to turn our back on that. We become transformed and inspired to live out the rest of our days with as much life as possible. Who knows, maybe this will create a sense of timelessness?!
Rollo May says it so well when he says, “The confrontation of death gives the most positive reality to life itself. It makes the individual existence real, absolute and concrete. Death is the one fact of my life which is not relative, but absolute, and my awareness of this gives my existence and what I do each hour an absolute quality.”
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