How to Achieve Balance
Posted on January 23rd, 2017
Balance in life is dependent on determining what you can control and what you have to let go. It’s about neutralizing the testing times and it’s about balancing your career, relationships and spiritual growth.
Maintaining a centered state is a challenge, especially in a world in a constant state of flux. Just as things are smooth sailing, an unexpected event occurs that pulls the rug out from beneath us. Also, we might not pay attention to the initial signs that we’re losing equilibrium. In fact, from my own experience, it’s often only once I’ve begun to spiral that I realize how disconnected I’ve become from my center.
When we stay connected to our center, we are able to get off the emotional rollercoaster. This is not to say that when a negative experience happens we won’t feel sad but learning and growing from the pain gives us power. It is considerably harder to learn from negative experiences when we are consumed with hectic energy. Plus feeling frazzled is not the best for our health and wellness. While we can’t control the chaos around us, we can control how we react and thus remain balanced.
So how do we achieve balance in a complicated and frenetic world? There are many ways: grounding asana, self-care rituals, aromatherapy, pranayama, creative outlets, and the list goes on. Additionally, we have the purusharthas, outlined in the Vedic sciences. The purusharthas are four intentions to provide a fulfilling and well-rounded life. They are referred to as dharmas and implement structure in achieving a balanced life.
The purusharthas (the four aims of life):
Kama means desire and expresses an individual on an emotional and sensory level. Think of all the things that bring pleasure to your life like music, art, intimacy and human connection. We should have joy in our life and enjoy all these wonderful things! The problem is when we overindulge and become jealous or greedy.
Next time you go inward or are journaling, reflect upon what creates joy in your life. Are you getting enough pleasure or have you only been focused on work? Do you feel dependent on your pleasures? Reflecting about your pleasure is also a wonderful way to learn more about your being. For example, if an activity leaves you feeling lethargic and unmotivated then perhaps it’s best to eliminate it from your lifestyle. Do your relationships add additional happiness to your life or are you depending on them to fill an inner void? What can you do to get more satisfaction out of your life?
The misconception exists that yogis preach renouncement of material things. This is simply not true! There is nothing wrong with having a nice house or a fancy car. The key is not getting attached to these things as ultimately they won’t provide any fulfillment. Artha allows us to live comfortably and makes sure our basic needs are met. It gives us support to follow our dreams and our soul’s purpose in life and it also pertains to our career.
Next time you are sitting in stillness, some of the crucial questions to ask yourself are what does wealth mean to you? What does success mean to you? Why are you doing what you’re doing? It’s also worth exploring if you depend on your material goods as means to create an identity.
Dharma: Our soul’s purpose
There are many ways to define dharma: natural living, righteous living, wisdom. Dharma is to live your truth. I like to think that we are fulfilling our dharma when we live in harmony with the universe. Notice how the universe has a natural order to it: the seasons, the moon cycles, living beings all functions according to a natural flow that makes sense. When our actions are in harmony with the natural order of life, we are living our dharma.
This means being present with our actions, thoughts and deeds. Animals, for example, are present with what they do. If you are a student (we are always students of life!), it’s about attending class and putting in the work. It’s about being present with every bite when you are eating. Your dharma includes your job, your relationship with family, friends and your community. It also includes your relationship with yourself. Are you present with your body and your mind? Are you living in harmony with nature or is the ego ruling your mind?
When reflecting about your dharma, think about what you are doing with your life. How are you serving yourself? What about your family and your community? Do you feel a sense of purpose or is something lacking?
Moskha refers to the ultimate goal of yoga – self-realization. We achieve this state when we are freed from the ego. Moskha means freedom from suffering as well as liberation from the cycle of birth and death. The practice of yoga is a practice of moksha. Yoga allows us to let go of our attachments and our egotistic identity. It connects us with our higher consciousness and our soul.
When reflecting about moksha I like to think about how I am acting from the soul. It’s easy to get attached and react to negative thoughts but I try to remember that there is something much greater within us. When reflecting about moksha, think about any recent emotions you’ve been experiencing. Have you been carried away with them or have you been working on detachment to allow you to see the bigger picture? Are your actions from a place of ego to seek some validation? Have you been lashing out externally when things go haywire? Are you fulfilled and happy? What attachments do you have to certain thoughts that you need to release? Reflect on what you could do to feel free from suffering.
The purusharthas provide a wonderful structure to achieve balance. When we tune inward with our bodies and our minds, we’re able to move our life forward towards a constructive and positive path. Identify the different areas so that when one is out of balance, you know the steps to take to rectify the situation. It’s natural to have moments when we go off the bandwagon and live a more unbalanced life. Instead of ruminating when that does happen, let it go and make your way back to your center. We’re human and this is only natural. The important thing is that you keep trying to achieve the life you deserve. Namaste beautiful warriors!