Loosing balance in my life tends to be a gradual process. It’s not like standing on one leg and suddenly toppling over. It’s more like a candle on a slightly slanted table that slowly melts in one direction until the weight of the dripping wax becomes too heavy and it finally tips. That’s when I realise that I’ve been focusing on the wrong things and letting my mind wander down rocky trails.
A while ago I was sitting in a restaurant with my husband and I was complaining about this and that and all the little things that bugged me about my job and life in general, and at one point he stopped me, frustrated, and told me to look at all the things that were great in my life. “You should be the happiest girl in the world,” he said. “You have this amazing job where you get to do exactly what you love, but all I hear is negativity.”
It was harsh to hear and at that point I recoiled, offended that he didn’t “get me” or want to listen to my ramblings and perceived issues. This was his job, right? He’s my husband, he is suppose to support me. It took me a while to realise that he was supporting me, just not in the way I liked. While I wanted him to serve another delicious scoop of complaint, drizzling over the thick sauce of bitching and moaning, he forced me to chuck it out and reach for the proverbial salad instead. And my body thanked him for it later.
I find it is very easy to wallow in self-pity. Negative thoughts and feelings are indulgent and easy to conjure up. I have no trouble digging in the dirt for rocks to chew on. And if left unchecked, my mind will pile these in my road. I create my own obstacles.
I have no trouble digging in the dirt for rocks to chew on. And if left unchecked, my mind will pile these in my road.
Then I attended a breakfast with blogger Jessica Sepel, Women’s Health and The Forum Company to launch her new book, A Healthy Life and listening to her talk about finding balance in life, in your diet, in your exercise routine, planted a seed in my heart. That night I started paging through her book and it was packed with golden nuggets. At one point she talks about practicing appreciation and gratitude, where she lists all the things she is thankful for. Suddenly a penny dropped in my mind. Suddenly the candle toppled and I realised how I had lost my balance.
When I read Sepel’s book I knew it was time for me to get back into my yoga practice, to reach deep into myself and strengthen the core of my being. For some reason I haven’t been doing yoga this year. Last year I tried my best to go once of twice a week and I loved those hours where I could reconnect with my body, quiet my mind and focus on the things that made me happy and positive. Then I started running more and doing circuit at the gym because I wanted to loose weight and tone-up.
So for the last week I’ve been getting up a little ealier, laying out my yoga matt so that I face the sunrise, and I start each day with 15 minutes of yoga combined with an appreciation practice.
Believe me, it felt super cheesy when I started doing it. The first couple of phrases that ran through my mind felt hollow, false and pretentious. I felt a bit like a child praying and giving thanks for all the simple things in my life. But after a few rounds I started to feel the effect. “I am thankful for a body that can move. I am thankful for this home. I am thankful to live in this city. I am thankful for the sunshine and the opportunity to enjoy it. I am thankful for my husband, my friends, my parents, for food and water, for the ability to do what I love every day.”
It felt super cheesy when I started doing it. The first couple of phrases that ran through my mind felt hollow, false and pretentious.
I rolled my eyes when I first read about the idea of practicing appreciation, partly because our society has become very cynical and sarcastic, and things like meditation, detoxing, positive thinking and all that jazz can easily be shrugged off as pop psychology and hippy mumbo-jumbo. I hear those audibly sighs of skepticism. I get it, I did it too. But here’s the thing, I also wanted to embrace happiness again, so I gave it a go.
Getting back to a point where I can recognise and love all the beautiful things in my life is going to take active practice. For me it is a matter of retraining my mind, eyes and my body to see light instead of shadow. After just one practice I could feel the impact on my day. Honestly, my perception was different because I was actively looking at things in a positive way. After a week I already feel lighter.
Combining yoga with active appreciation works for me because it also allows me to connect with my body, to begin my day with movement where I can bend, stretch and twist, and where I can identify points of tension. My body reacts to stress and negative emotions – my lower back and shoulders go into spasms and my skin flares up. So it is as much about finding balance in the physical as it is in the mental. The first time I did yoga again poses I use to find easy and comfortable were suddenly painful and strenuous. My muscles were telling me that things needed to change.
It is as much about finding balance in the physical as it is in the mental
I have only been practicing appreciation for a week but I can already feel a massive impact on my body and my approach to life, and I can really recommend it. Write down the things you are thankful for in your life. Don’t miss the little things, every tiny bit contributes. Be thankful for the ability to touch, taste, see colour, breath easily. We take so many small things for granted but these contribute to our lives in immeasurable ways.
Get up 15 minutes earlier in the mornings and give it a try. I use the Yoga Studio app to guide my practice. And please let me know how it goes. Or if you have any tips you can share with me, I would love to hear about it. Pop it in the comments below so that everyone can benefit.