I am not the best of friends with yoga. We were complete strangers until being introduced four years ago. I was wary of this new acquaintance, and I approached it with a mixture of caution and curiosity. We did not hit it off during our first few meetings. I felt inferior to yoga, envious of its fluidity and grace. I, being of the cardio/ running/ weight training world, was inflexible and decidedly unbalanced. Yoga demanded that I both flex and balance. I was not sure I was willing to put that much effort into our newfound relationship. However, I was seduced by Savasana (also known as the Corpse Pose), and so I allowed our friendship to develop.
I would be comfortable in saying now that I consider yoga to be a casual friend. We meet up weekly or bi-weekly for thirty to sixty minutes to practice our poses. When we began I could not hold Tree Pose for more than a few seconds without toppling sideways. Me doing Warrior III resembled a flamingo with a bad case of vertigo, wobbling and swaying while precariously balanced on one leg. Yoga taught me patience and perseverance, though, and over time the results were markedly improved. I began to trust my new friend, and I allowed myself to be guided in breathing and relaxation techniques. I will never be a yoga master, but it has given me the gift of balance.
Finding balance in the physical form led me to question if I had it in other areas. Was I dedicating equal time to work and home life? Was I putting the same effort into feeding my soul as I was putting into my career? Were my family and friends being given as much weight as my obligations and commitments? The answer was a resounding no. There was a definitive tipping of the scales, and it became evident that a redistribution of my time and energy was in order.
My story is no different than many others. I got lost in my quest to elevate my position within my profession. Forty hour work weeks became fifty plus hour work weeks. Lunch breaks were skipped, and more nights than not I was logged on and working from home. Weekend plans were interrupted by work emails that could not be ignored. While some people thrive under these conditions, I am not one of them. Sleep was erratic and minimal, and combined with high stress levels it caused my health to suffer. Boundaries were crossed, and balance was nonexistent.
I discovered that all of the weight was resting on one side of the scale, and it was crushing me. I needed to move some of that weight to the other side. I needed balance. I left the job I was in and did some much needed soul searching. I tried another line of work, but it did not suit me. I went back into, and then back out of, my chosen field. I was transferring weight from one side of the scale to the other so often it was like being on a never ending seesaw ride. Finally, I jumped off and went to do more soul searching.
Have I achieved balance? I have not. In fact I have now tipped the scales too far in the opposite direction. I have taken time off, and it has allowed me to focus on my health and my happiness. I have been able to spend a great deal of time reconnecting with my husband. I have rediscovered the things that bring me joy (writing, traveling, and being out in nature). Yet there is a gap there that needs to be filled. I need the mental stimulation that working brought, and I miss the social aspect of an office environment. I crave the energy and the satisfaction that come from achieving goals and being productive.
I have not found the parity I am seeking in my approach to both my home life and my career, but I am working on it. I am making changes, and I feel closer than ever to reaching an equitable solution. I know that others have faced this dilemma and found a workable solution. I am excited to read about companies that now encourage their employees to log off and unplug during non working hours. Thanks to my dear friend yoga (what can I say, it grew on me) I recognize the importance of balance in all of its forms. As I did with yoga, I will keep practicing until the scales are evenly balanced. Oh, and I can now hold Tree Pose for a few minutes wobble-free. As for my Warrior III…let’s just say I have progressed to looking like a slightly tipsy flamingo. Namaste.
Have you struggled with managing your home and career lives? How did you find balance? As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions. Cheers! Karen
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