Finding the Balance Within – The Art of Daily Practice
The pace of our lives is ever-increasing and balancing our responsibilities and commitments has become a fine art of its own. With the mounting pressures, often the first areas we tend to give up are ones associated with our own enjoyment, daily pleasures and health and well-being. From my personal experience, these are the areas of our lives we need to protect and cherish. If we are not in a good state of physical, emotional and spiritual health then we have less to give to others including our children, spouse/partner, aging parents and those we work with in our professional lives.
It is imperative that we find balance and a sense of inner peace in order to effectively cope with the everyday demands. Finding the balance within is taking time to reflect on ways you can bring daily practices into your life that will support your health and well-being. For some, it is making time for a daily regimen of physical exercise to release the tension and frustrations of the day and work the muscles of both the body and mind. For others, it is finding other outlets to refresh the inner spirit and soul.
Here are several options of daily practices that you may wish to consider to get you started. Remember to choose the one or ones which are right for you and speak to your heart and soul.
Taking Time in Nature: Nature has a way of soothing the soul. Taking a walk, hiking, bird watching or engaging in some other level of solitary activity provides the opportunity to engage in self-reflection, enjoy the small pleasures nature has to offer and to exert ourselves physically.
Journalling: Journalling provides us with an outlet to release our thoughts, frustrations, struggles and achievements in a safe and private manner. There is no need to censor our words and feelings. We can be open and allow our pen to flow. This can be a freeing feeling, particularly, if you are working through some issues or personal matters which are stressful. Using this technique allows you to convey your thoughts and releases you from having to worry, focus or stress about it throughout the day or as your subconscious mind takes over while you sleep.
Meditation: Meditation means different things to different people. It is generally focused on breathing and quieting the mind as a means of bringing a sense of peace, calmness and relaxation to the individual. For those who are new to meditation, it is recommended that they find a place of solitude, somewhere quiet in their home or in nature they can use on a daily basis. As with all of the daily practices, it is suggested that you meditate at the same time each day so it becomes part of your daily routine. Calming music can be beneficial in helping the individual to be and remain in the right mindset for this practice.
Finding Inspiration: A simple and effective way to bring your mind to focus on the positive and to bring what you desire into your life is by reading inspirational quotes, stories, messages or watching an inspiring movie based on a true life story, autobiography or biography, etc. There are some who begin or end their day by choosing a daily inspirational quote or message to focus and motivate them. Many people carefully choose what they watch on television, purposefully avoiding the news or any programs that depict violence or aggression as they prefer to focus on the more positive aspects of life.
Positive Affirmations: Many people believe that our thoughts are powerful contributors to what we manifest in our lives. Using this concept, positive affirmations is a technique or strategy that can help you focus on what you truly want and desire as a means of bringing it into your life. This may be happiness, good health, loving relationships or it can assist you to bring something more tangible into your life such as a new car, job, additional money, etc. To be effective in using this technique, you must be aware of your thoughts and focus them on the areas of your life which you wish to enhance or improve. The use of feelings and emotions will help you to more quickly draw what you desire towards you, however, it is important to realize this is also true of any negative thoughts or emotions you have. It is about focusing on the positive and letting go of negative thoughts and feelings.
Visualization: Many athletes and corporate professionals use this technique to bring their goal or dream into fruition. It is visualizing in your mind the outcome you desire. For the greatest success, the individual creates the scene in his or her mind exactly as he or she wishes it to be played out in his or her life. The more ‘real’ the visualization seems in the individual’s mind, the better able he or she will be able to bring about the desired outcome in real life. Using the five senses is key to this process. For example, the individual would feel, hear, see him/herself playing out the scene like watching the script unfold in a play.
Yoga, Tai Chi or Other Similar Approaches: Each of these practices have their own philosophy or approach but are based in using the physical body in achieving a more balanced and whole state of mind and/or spirit. Through a series of physical movements or exercises, a sense of peace and calmness is restored rejuvenating the individual’s mind, body and spirit. There are many variations and modalities of practice and it is best for the individual to research, explore and experiment until they find the modality best suited to the strengths and limitations of their physical body and which offers what they feel they need to replenish their inner spirit.
Prayer: For those who are religious or spiritual, prayer at the beginning and/or end of each day can be a way of connecting to a higher power, conveying thanks and appreciation for the blessings in our lives, asking for forgiveness for any of our self-proclaimed transgressions and remaining in faith as we focus on enhancing and improving our lives and those of others.
The first step in this process is to recognize the importance of choosing the daily practice or practices which fit with your personality, temperament, lifestyle, skills and interests. Secondly, it is valuing and making a commitment to yourself to take the time needed to implement the daily practice(s) ensuring it is a priority in your life. Lastly, it is about forgiving yourself when you falter or when you allow something to come in between you and your daily practice(s). It will happen and when it does, do not place energy dwelling on what you didn’t do or achieve but move forward in re-establishing the daily practice(s) as part of your routine. Most of all, celebrate your successes… the little ones and the bigger achievements. Acknowledge each day the way in which you achieved your daily practice(s) and sometimes make an extra effort to reward yourself at the end of the week for your accomplishments. It can be giving yourself a night out with your friends, giving yourself permission to take time to read a good book or visit a museum or it can be booking that much-needed holiday. Only you can decide what will motivate, encourage and support you to continue.