A balanced life- sometimes illusive at best

part one

Ever end a wonderful weekend relaxing with a Sunday night of restless sleep or an evening tense with the thoughts of Monday morning's work? You're short with the kids, no energy to be romantic with your husband or wife; even the faithful family dog is denied a pat on the head. Then you finally begin to realize it's not them and you ask yourself, what is going on? You know you're way off your balance point. We may then rationalize, saying it's how we live, everyone else is in the same boat, that's just my life for now and there's nothing I can do about. If you can't do something about it, who can?

Unfortunately, or fortunately, the body will only put up with so much and then one way or another the brakes will be applied, sometimes through an illness or some other life-altering event. Some people would like to think that we create our own illnesses to save ourselves. Maybe we do, but if that is always the case then why do people with seemingly balanced happy lives get sick and die? I'd like to argue that point but first plant this thought. Illness is the only acceptable way to withdraw from society. What do you think would happen if you got up tomorrow and said you weren't going to work any more or you were going to drop out and and travel for a while. Everyone from your family and friends to your investment banker would ask ''are you nuts?''

Whether or not we do or do not create our own illnesses will be an argument that will rage on in holistic medicine for some time to come with most experts leaning towards the belief that we do not create our own illnesses. Yes, each of us is genetically predisposed with certain tendencies and we may add to or diminish those possibilities towards disease through personal health habits-- good or bad. But, here's what we need to remember. With the possibility that we may create our illnesses comes the responsibility for that creation-- blame. Blame and forgiveness cannot occupy the same space in your mind at the same time.

What everyone in holistic medicine will agree upon is that there can be no healing as long as we blame ourselves or look to blame others for the poor state of our health.

It's ''fashionable'' these days to hear someone-- and too many times individuals in alternative/holistic health care-- talk about how negative an individual is in reference to their state of health simply because they clash with their personality. Does that really make someone negative or is it just your view? In oriental medicine, disease is considered by the states of the energy within the body or the chi. When the chi is ''stuck'' it causes disease. Consider this analogy, when a river floods the waters back up. Or, when there is draught, certain surrounding areas will suffer the effects of that overabundance or lack of water. We talk about the land or the river being out of balance. We may discuss the causes-- be they el Niño or global warming-- and feel concerned, and, yes, the planet may be out of balance but to simply dismiss it all and say, ''oh you know mother earth, she's so negative'' doesn't make much sense, does it?

Are you in balance? Asking yourself these few simple questions can help you determine how balanced you are--

What is the general state of my energy levels, regardless of age? Are you so fatigued from a day of work that you collapse, kick the dog, scream at the kids, sleep in the chair at six?

Does vacation no longer rejuvenate you, make you ready to return and take on the day, the world?

Does your body shout at you with aches and pains and you overuse medications?

Are you forgetful about even important things?

Are you oversleeping or insomniac?

Are you using alcohol to numb the noise in your brain or the pain in your body?

Stay tuned, next week in part two I'll take a look at ways you can achieve more balance in your body and your life.

part two

Last week, in part one of a balanced life, I discussed problems and causes surrounding the high-stress life we live and how balance can be illusive. This week we'll take a look at steps you can take to achieve more peace and balance in your everyday life.

Included in last week's article was a self question/inventory to help you examine where you may need to change things around to find a better balance point. Of course, these were the more obvious areas. You may have to journal for a while asking even more probing questions to get to the heart of the issue. Which, in some cases just identifying it by writing it or speaking it, is the solution. Or, you may want to build your own solution, just as you would solve other problems by applying your knowledge. Like how to build a house or fix a car.

First you start with a plan, write out the steps, look at short, medium and long range goals, gather the help you need-- books, journals, counseling by professionals, a support system of family and friends, then-- you work your plan.

Still stuck? Sit with your journal. Ask yourself these questions:

How do I feel? Do I feel happy, sad, grateful, lonely, secure, tired, hungry. Be with your thoughts and your body, just note the feelings-- don't over think it, just write what you feel.

What do I need? Sound strange? Many of us cannot state our needs simply. This is a problem! But if you have first asked yourself how you feel, you can better answer this question. I feel lonely. I need a hug. I am feeling unhappy. I need to change careers.

Too many times, especially when it comes to the larger issues such as career we won't even allow ourselves to think it. Why? Are you afraid things might really CHANGE? Is it really worth your happiness?

Do I need support? We step off the pedestal of perfectionism and isolation when we are willing to ask for support. Join the human race! No man is an island, very true statements. Besides, how many times in asking for help did you find you brought a friend or family member closer, giving them the role of helper or advisor. Doesn't it make you feel good when you help a friend solve a problem?

Are my expectations reasonable? Most twelve step programs such as AA talk a lot about lowering your expectations. People and relationships can be disappointing. We can disappoint ourselves as well. If we don't demand perfectionism of ourselves or others we can live more freely and fully without having our feelings bruised and hurt all the time.

Is my thinking positive and powerful? Feeling powerful today? Don't be afraid to express that. You'll find it grows by geometrics.

Other important steps to take when seeking balance, eating healthy foods, (at least part of the time) going for regular medical check ups and dental appointments. Take a good balanced supplement, vitamins in the morning, minerals for rest, restore and repair at night. Have a massage once a month. Go out with your friends. Include sometime for laughter and humor.

In my research and reading for this article, most everyone wrote about simplicity and abundance in the same sentence. Yes, it seems very foreign to me as well. With practice it's better, not perfect.

We still have to pay the bills by going to work everyday, we can't ignore home or car maintenance, the grass still grows and needs cutting and we can't ignore relationships with difficult family members, but we can change or give up on the things that are not priorities in our lives freeing time and energy. Simplicity and abundance-- balance, maybe not such a strange idea after all.

Till next time, Rebecca.

Uploaded to The Zephyr website June 16, 1999

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