Yoga asana practice can teach us so much about our approach to our lives. If we are hurrying through, taking half-breaths as we move from pose to pose, we’ll probably find ourselves doing the same thing as we fulfill our responsibilities in our daily lives. If we push ourselves to be stronger, more flexible, feeling dissatisfied with our body’s capabilities, if we judge ourselves as not making the grade in our yoga postures, chances are we’ll find echos of this mindset in our lives off of the yoga mat.
One of my greatest aims as a yoga teacher is to help students feel at home in their own bodies, to meet themselves with compassion and kindness, starting right where they are, and working with what they have in this moment. I had three opportunities to teach today, and I found myself asking my students to search for the balance point between effort and ease.
Not enough effort, and you get bored in the pose, the mind wanders.
Too much effort, and you feel tortured by your body, you might injure yourself.
Search for the place that is just enough, where you feel enough sensation in your body to stay present, but with enough ease to allow for free-flowing movement of the breath in and out of the body.
Where is this balance point in our every day lives?
I’ve been searching for mine. I’ve felt quite loony lately, teaching a whole lot, running around taking care of social obligations, being sick, taking care of sick kids, maintaining my meditation practice and my writing practice, worrying about my husband’s thought that we don’t have enough time together.
Where is the balance point in my meditation practice?
How about in my writing practice? A lot of my posts have been on the longer side, and it has taken several hours to revise and edit and feel comfortable enough to publish. I tell myself that I’m doing this so that I can free my creative self and become more adept as a writer. But am I putting too much effort into this work? Am I trying too hard? I have tortured feelings surrounding this project, but it’s not the writing itself that tortures me. I’m actually fine with the amount of effort that it takes to craft sentences that clearly express what I’m wanting to say. And as I’ve mentioned before, I actually like taking some time to myself to explore my life through the medium of words.
The tortured feelings come from some scared part of me that tells me I’m compromising my marriage, I’m being selfish, and my writing doesn’t matter. So where is the balance point there?
The last few nights I tried writing downstairs, in the midst of everyone’s nightly activities. My mother-in-law was watching TV, my husband was bustling around. It wasn’t the easiest to focus, but I wanted to be present, somehow, even if my attention was focused on my writing. I’m not sure of the quality of my posts, but I was glad to just stay in the room, for my family to see that I was there.
Tonight I’m back upstairs in my meditation room. It’s quieter here and easier to focus. Now I can hear the doubting thoughts even better. Now I can dive deep and reach for the self that believes in the value of this work. I can search for the balance point between effort and ease.
It seems that finding balance is a moment to moment, day to day, journey. It has no beginning and no end, and it’s constantly shifting and changing as our lives shift and change. What feels balanced to me today might not apply to tomorrow; maybe balance comes when we practice detachment, accept life as it is now, take a deep breath, and make decisions from a clear and focused mind.
I breathe in. This is enough. I breathe out. This moment.
I wish for all beings to experience balance in their lives, to experience the place between effort and ease that brings them home to themselves, that helps them to awaken to this moment.
Time to meditate, night night.