The Point of Balance

From “Zen Cards” by Daniel Levin:

The center is not always the point of balance. When you find that place where Balance is achieved, peace will result in all situations. There is no conflict, for everything rests without strain.

As I read this, I wonder…..then I pick up an un-sharpened No. 2 pencil. I lay it across one finger at its center point and ¬†it falls off. Of course it does. The eraser end is heavier than the writing end. I move its resting point toward the eraser end. It balances.

So what? Well, balance is essential to our wellbeing. Healthy diet, reasonable amounts of exercise, fresh air, sleep, and the meeting of other physical needs keeps the body in balance. Attention to these things benefits our physical wellbeing. Many of these things are also necessary for mental and emotional balance, and thus, wellbeing. Too much sugar and not enough sleep directly affect how we react/respond to daily life. These two things can throw our mental/ emotional balance off very quickly.

I am thinking and writing about these things because I have been assessing my own habits in light changes in my own life. I want to be stronger, more active, continue to learn, grow, and serve. I am finding what works for me and I am inviting you to sit with these ideas now and then and see if you can discern your own needs in ways that create more balance, energy, happiness, and joy for you.

Blessings of Love and LightūüíęūüíĖūüôŹ

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Emotional Balance

Emotional balance has been unfolding in my life for 50 years.  One of the biggest hurdles has been letting go of the belief that my emotions define me; that I am what I am currently feeling.  I now define emotion as: e-motion = energy in motion.  When I am experiencing a specific emotion, I realize that it is energy moving through my entire being.  It is energy that has been given a name such as happiness, sorrow, anger, etc.  Remembering this helps me release judgement about the nature of that energy.  Energy is energy; it is neither good nor bad; it just is.

As practices for the body and mind (yoga, meditation, healthy eating, exercise, fresh air, loving friends, etc.) have become consistent in my life, my emotions have become more consistent as well.  For the most part, my emotions fit what I am experiencing in the moment.  When each of my parents died, I was deeply sad and grieved.  I was also profoundly grateful that I was with them in their transitions. I was proud to be their daughter. I was also grateful for everything they had given me over the years.  So many emotions flowed during those times and I felt them all. Intense and fulfilling all at once.

In releasing judgement, I view these experiences in terms of intensity.¬† Seldom is overwhelming happiness described as bad, yet it is every bit as intense as sorrow and can be just as exhausting.¬† My granddaughter’s birth was so intensely joyful that there were times I didn’t sleep very well.¬† There were times when I quietly cried for happy.¬† Intense.

On the other end of the spectrum, I choose not to take in news about things like child abuse because the depth of anger I feel on behalf of these innocents is almost frightening to me.¬† But is anger always “bad?”¬† Not in my opinion, because there are many people who have been inspired to acts of bravery because of the anger that arises within them.¬† Anger and frustration with things I had allowed or created in my life have given me the courage to make very difficult changes.¬† Intense.

Intensity is seldom comfortable, which is why these energies are judged as bad or unhealthy.  The key, is Рguess what? Рbalance!  It makes more sense to realize that imbalance in the emotional body creates confusion and can be destructive than to set the goal of never feeling these things.  When I feel angry, can I allow myself to be in it in a way that leads me to action, forgiveness or compassion?  If so, I will quickly return to peace and tranquility.  My actions will be appropriate to the situation and to my desire and intention to live lovingly and compassionately.  It is when I avoid and stuff or hide my feelings that my behavior becomes inappropriate and possibly destructive.

Balance is the key.¬†Here are a few reasonable goals: ¬†Feel without being thrown against the wall by the intensity of emotions. Be willing to sit with the discomfort in order to remember that energy in motion does not define me; it is something you are experiencing in the moment.¬† It will diminish, shift, transform because that is the nature of energy. ¬†Embrace the experience for what it is:¬† a human experience that does not change or define your True Self, a spiritual being. Be patient and remember that it takes time and maturity to come into this awareness in every aspect of your being: physical, mental, emotional. ¬†You don’t have to change everything at once. ¬†You don’t have to fight yourself and judge yourself. ¬†You do not have to be perfect. ¬†You can be in this moment, experience it, and be all that you are. ¬†You can unfold into True Self as naturally as a healthy tree matures and produces perfect fruit.

One of my favorite responses to myself when I explode into emotional intensity and catch myself in the midst of it is:    Well, Catherine Ann, welcome to the human race!

 

Physical Balance

In my last post I wrote generally about balance of body, mind, and emotions.  This time I want to focus on creating physical balance. In hatha yoga, we begin with the physical body because it is the part of ourselves that we can see, touch, use, feel, experience. Keep in mind that any benefit gained in one are (physical, mental, or emotional) produces greater well-being in all.

Beginning with the physical is wise as well as practical.  Calming the mind or emotions, for example, can be impossible if the body chemistry is out of wack. For example, I was in my late twenties when the medical world came up with the  concept of PMS (premenstrual syndrome).  It was a significant breakthrough for women because with identification comes information on how to create balance within the experience.

I read everything I could get my hands on, which actually wasn’t much.¬† This was pre-internet so magazine, books, talk shows were the best source for current information.¬† I began paying attention and realized that excessive caffeine, sugar, salt, and a lack of exercise and rest intensified my mental and emotional ups and downs for a week before menses onset as well as the week during as well. That is half of every month!!¬† As I learned to limit the intake of these foods while walking more (and eventually joining the new rage of jogging), mood swings lessened significantly. I slept better, thought more clearly and joyfully experienced a lessening of the intensity of cramping and headaches.¬† Life was oh-so-much better!

This experience opened my mind to the idea of the interaction of body, mind, and emotions.  Over the years I have discovered what best keeps me in balance.  I am now post-menopausal so that is no longer an issue.  Now there are other physical issues, like keeping a healthy blood sugar balance because I have a tendency toward hypoglycemia, monitoring blood pressure, cholesterol levels, etc.

Do I have a formula to offer you?  Nope.

I do have a few suggestions.

Pay attention to: ¬†your physical energy levels with relationship to different types of food,¬† how you digest different foods.¬† For example, I noticed in my late thirties that raw onions were no longer something I could digest well.¬† If you aren’t sure how to evaluate your diet for your age, general¬†condition, etc. perhaps your doctor can refer you to a reliable nutritionist.¬† It helped me immensely.

Ask yourself simple questions and look at the answers honestly and without judgement:  Do I eat regularly throughout the day so that my energy stays steady?  Am I willing to let go of things that undermine balance and health Рlike an overabundance of sodas or sweets?  Do I eat more fresh foods that processed foods?  Have I learned to read labels?  Do I get enough rest or am I regularly running myself into the ground?  Have I found a form of exercise that suits my lifestyle and current physical condition?  Do I make time for that a sufficient number of times each week?  Am I willing to try something that is out of my comfort zone, like yoga, meditation, or tai chi?

Talk to people who stay fit, laugh a lot and enjoy their lives.  Never hesitate to ask for guidance or help with creating a balanced, healthy life.

Keep on keepin’ on until new behaviors become part of your normal routine.¬† You deserve to feel good and enjoy life.

Try stuff.¬† If something isn’t a fit for you, try something else.¬† There is no one way that works for everyone.¬† You get to choose but choose you must.

Above all, find what works for you.

Walter Littlemoon

Walter Littlemoon passed through my life briefly during a time of personal healing and searching. I carry him in my heart and mind because he looked into my soul and knew me. He honored my journey when I didn’t understand it myself. I remember him as a tall, quiet, gentle man of great intelligence and profound compassion. He spoke softly, humbly and taught much with very few words.

Walter Littlemoon was born at Wounded Knee in 1942. Taken from his family at the age of 5, he was forced into a federal government boarding school. His family, language and traditions denied him. I met him in the early 1990’s when he visited ¬†friends in Florida. He graciously conducted sweat lodges without asking for payment of any kind. Money offered in gratitude for his presence and teaching was given to the destitute community of Wounded Knee. His entire life has been dedicated to restoring his people and his land. I sat in stunned silence when he told us he was not supposed to leave the reservation without official permission. How could that be in a free country?!¬† Fortunately for all of us, Walter answered to a power higher than any government and traveled where Great Spirit led him.

I will not presume to tell his story for I cannot do him or the Lakota people justice. I hope you will search him out on the internet. You will be blessed.

When I told him I was nervous about doing my first sweat lodge (in summer, in Florida), he very lightly touched my shoulder and quietly said, “Trust the Creator. You are meant to be here.” At his touch, a calm peacefulness spread through me and I entered the lodge. Those words have carried me through many challenging life experiences. I could easily feel the sacredness of Walter Littlemoon’s path; he helped me understand the sacredness of my own.

Even as I struggle to share something of my experience with him, I hear his sweet voice, “Trust the Creator. You are meant to be here.”

“Here” is wherever I am in the moment, whatever I am experiencing in the moment. “Here” is all that I have been in the past, all that I am in this moment, and all that I will be in the future. “Here” transcends geography, ethnicity, gender, religion, politics. Let this be your meditation today:

TRUST  THE  CREATOR.    YOU  ARE  MEANT  TO  BE  HERE.

My Country…Sweet Land of Liberty…

Words from a song I learned as a child…A song I have sung more times in my life than I could ever count. It comes to mind this morning, July 4, 2018, as I sit in my rocker sipping coffee. I‚Äôm thinking about my family‚Äôs history here, which began with my grandparents. I‚Äôm thinking about my country‚Äôs history, which began when people wanting the freedom to be who they were sailed into the unknown and found her shores. Did you know my ancestors from northern Spain were master ship builders? Basque craftsmen designed and built the Nina, the Pinta, the Santa Maria.

Now my mind wanders forward to those new Americans who fought England for their right to rule themselves. Later they fought each other over whether to be united or separate. We still honor those early Americans when we visit the battlefields and museums that remind us of our own history. Our history matters and it deserves our respect now more than ever.

I need to remember this morning that Americans have never agreed about everything. We have, however, found ways to work together and move forward in spite of our differences and disagreements. AND THIS IS IMPORTANT:

It seems to me that our forward movement has usually been about allowing more people the freedom to be who they are. 

We have stumbled in this process and made unfair decisions along the way. Can anyone overlook our treatment of Native Americans, survivors of slavery and their descendants, Japanese American citizens….the list goes on does it not? And, yes, it takes too long. Many still fight for truly equal rights like Black Americans, women, same-sex couples, and more.

We are not a perfect nation but we are a nation that does not give up. We fight for human rights Рnot just our own as individuals Рbut even the rights of those we don’t really understand or relate to easily. I still shake my head when a news report reminds me that the KKK still exists-what?

So, dear hearts, we aren’t going to agree on everything but we all have the right to be heard. Is your voice being heard? Are you speaking out intelligently and without defaming others? Are you calling your reps in state and national offices? Are you voting? Are you?

God bless us all and may we be free to be.

Enough Already!

Is anyone else as weary as I am of the fighting and squabbling? Do we not live in the United States of America? Do we not elect our leaders?

Are we communicating with those we elect or are we just arguing and demanding that everyone agree with our personal point of view? How is that working out in Washington?

So, I’m asking each of you to take a breath. Then contact those who represent you on the national, state, and local levels. Express your views and vision for your community and our nation without bashing those who think differently than you do. Support them in working as Americans, across party lines to find solutions NOW.

This country has done it before and it can do it now…but we must stop going after each other and start going after reasonable answers instead. Please join me in praying, meditating, seeking wisdom and then living in that wisdom to bring healing to our communities and our nation. And let‚Äôs begin by creating healing and peace in our own lives to begin the process.

Thank you, catherine.