This morning at the start of my yoga class I bowed my head to my prayer hands and set an intention of balance. I wasn’t thinking of poses, although I’ve got a mean repertoire of arm balances in my practice these days. I was actually thinking in particular of jealousy. I was feeling very envious of someone yesterday and it was weighing on my mind this morning. When I set balance as my intention I was thinking specifically of balancing the jealousy I sometimes feel toward others with gratitude for the wonderful things I have. I realize that I cannot completely eliminate the green-eyed monster from my life. I will always look at what others have and sometimes I will think “I want that too.” Sometimes I will think “why do they have that when I don’t?” What I can do is temper these thoughts and feelings with thoughts and feelings of graciousness and contentment in my own life. When these thoughts pop up I can push back by reminding myself of what I do have and why it makes me happy.
After class I went to mass with Brady. The Gospel was one that is often used as proof that the end times are coming, Luke 21:5-19. You know, “nation will rise against nation…there will be great earthquakes…etc”. It is certainly not one of my favorite passages, so I was curious to see what the priest would say in his homily. He told a story of a man who went into his wife’s drawer after her passing and pulled out an unworn, expensive item of clothing. She had never worn it in all the years she owned it because she was waiting for a special occasion, one that never came. He chose to concentrate on the message that we should always be prepared, that we should live each day as a special occasion because each day is a gift from God and we never know how many more there will be.
It is a wonderful and true lesson and I tried to relate it to Brady in terms he could understand. I told him that the priest was saying that we shouldn’t worry about the end of the world, we should live today. But as we walked home I began to think. Of course we should take each day as a gift and we should try to remember to live in the moment. Yoga teaches us this same thing, be present. As a person living with anxiety, this is something I constantly struggle with. I live too much in the what-ifs and far too little in the right now. It’s one of the reasons I do yoga in the first place. But again, we must find balance. Nothing would be gained by actually living each day as if it were our last. While we need to be present and to remember that right now is the only thing that is guaranteed to us, we still have to live as if there is a tomorrow or we will be seriously out of luck when we wake up with the gift of another day.
Balance is something I find much easier to master in the form of standing split or tree or even firefly pose than I do in my everyday life. Yes, there is that constant in the life of a mother, balancing your family and yourself, your children and your husband, work and play. But in truth, it is everywhere we look. The instructor in my class today talked about knowing when to take the most basic form a pose and when to take the advanced option. It is often difficult to know if you are pushing yourself to a place you can go or torturing yourself needlessly – to know if you are taking the easy way out or resting when you really need to. And isn’t that the way of so many things in life? Balancing the guilt of letting the kids watch TV with the ability to cook dinner without herding them out of the kitchen 18 times in a row. Balancing the desire for one more glass of wine with the contentment of enjoying what you’ve already had. Balancing what is good for yourself with what is good for others. For most of us, it will always be a struggle, and maybe that’s a little piece of the meaning of life – the work of finding balance.
Clearly, I was in a contemplative place today and I thought I’d share. I don’t think this line of thought is something unique to me or my life. How do you work for balance? Do you find value in the work you have to do to find it?
I found the image after I had written this post. Anubis weighing someone’s heart to determine their fate in the afterlife certainly adds a whole new layer to the discussion, but I think I’ll leave that one alone. By the way, this particular image is from the Met Museum’s collection Amun Nany’s Funerary Papyrus.