As a community we are coming to the end of 2022. We are learning how to live with (rather than how to combat) the Coronavirus. Each of us is discovering ways to manage re-entry into a “new normal” lifestyle. This year I resolved to find resilience to cope with all the things the pandemic brought into my daily life. My intention was to focus on balance. Seeking balance in an unbalanced world taught me a lot over the past twelve months. I will try to share some hard fraught wisdom in the hopes that it inspires you in your search for balance.
Building the foundation
As the self-proclaimed wobbliest yogi in the studio, my quest to seeking balance in an unbalanced world began with a private session with an experienced yoga instructor. She directed my attention to the base of each pose—the grounding. My feet. I suddenly became acutely aware of my feet. How had I not noticed? These size nine tootsies (on my short frame) were a body part that I had completely ignored, both on and off the mat. My teacher then increased my “core awareness.” I observed that tightening my core improved my balance. She also suggested that I be less rigid in my stance to allow for sway. Bending my knees ever so slightly created stability. Interesting!
Key take aways from my balancing lesson: Strong base, tight core, and soft knees for micro-adjustments along the way. My tree pose wobbles less.
With continued practice I discovered that grounding, core, and flexibility are also foundational to my balance off the mat.
Taking a close-up view to the daily flow of my Passion Planner I noticed that I was requiring too many “gear switches” in my day. I unintentionally created a solo competition of productivity. The challenge: How many things can I get done before work? What is “one more thing” I can do before … I leave the house, lie down, etc.?
So much of my “to dos” were preparing ahead to get a jump start on the evening, next day, later in the week, or the weekend. I was adding work now to presumably make less work for later. There was no later. My “work ahead” mindset was creating a perpetual cycle of work.
I began single-tasking on purpose. My to do list was for one day only, limited only to what I could reasonably complete. This step took time to discover my “reasonable” limits. My mantra when I noted that I was tired became “You have done enough for today.”
I concluded that multi-tasking does not help me to get more things done. It contributes to brain clutter and decreases my effectiveness in COMPLETING tasks. Not to brag, but I can get three things started at once. It feels like I am “on a roll.” But the false pride unravels once I try to finish. Instead of shortening my list through preparation, I lengthened my list. Rest needed to be on the list.
“I try to take one day at a time, but some days hit me all at once.” Aging is a reality that announced itself loudly at my birthday this year. My metabolism is at a new low, while my desire for comfort food after Covid survival is at a new high. Applying mindfulness to my physical health is a new shift in my thinking. As much as I enjoy food, I tend to mind wander while eating. Conversation, my surroundings, or an interesting article on my phone all vie for my attention during meals.
Applying mindfulness to meal time is a new form of balance. I can practice slowing down at meals to match my slowing down everywhere else. Why rush something that I enjoy? I am grounding in the yummy smells, tastes, and textures of food on my pretty plate. I’m beginning to give myself permission to stop between bites to savor the food, conversation, and surroundings. My phone doesn’t belong on the table anyway.
It is no surprise that there has been a Tsunami of calls for mental health services this year. In the after shock of the pandemic I tried to meet the growing need by extending mornings, then evenings, and then created a waiting list. I love my work, but soon recognized that I was heading toward burnout. Balance was needed in the form of boundaries for my work. My consultation group was an invaluable resource. It was reassuring to learn that we were all feeling the pressure of increased calls seeking services. More mental health workers are needed, not more hours in the work week. We all left the meeting with the resolve to reconsider our work boundaries. Finding a sustainable balance of care to clients and care to ourselves was a task worth pursuing. I am grateful for slow and steady progress towards self-caring so I can continue to joyfully help care for others.
“Falling out of balance doesn’t matter, really and truly. How we deal with that moment and how we find our way back to center, every day, again and again – that is the practice of yoga . . . it’s about trusting that you will find your way.Cyndi Lee
Over the course of this year I have used the yogic wisdom to note that balance is not stagnant. Balance is a process. Even while attending to grounding, core values, and flexibility–my balance will still need adjustments. My balance practice will remain in focus well into 2023. I am choosing to stay curious. Resilience comes from learning to be open (and flexible) to the twists and turns of life.
Wishing you the best in your balance journey!
Health & happiness,
Dr. Lisa Marotta