The world continues to rotate even though we fall behind. Whether it’s an email we have not yet responded to, a deadline at work, being late to an event, or picking up your children from school a few minutes late. Life is a constant juggle and by no means an easy one. In turn, we as a species are guilty of life imbalance as we strive for constant excellence to meet some high, often unrealistic standards.
Often, we find ourselves too wrapped up in the hustle and bustle of our lives that we literally forget to breathe. Then you have a moment where your body reminds you to breathe because it has been a while... so we take a giant gulp of air to satiate our bodies need for oxygen and continue forward. Always moving forward, to what end?
Sometimes we are so wrapped up in our tasks that we forget to eat. You then look at the time and think to yourself; “Oh snap, I missed lunch today, oh well I guess I’ll wait until dinner to eat.” Sometimes we have our brains working on overdrive that when it's finally time to shut down and sleep; our brain has other plans and keeps us up all night… thinking… thinking… and thinking some more. We live in a society that pushes us to ridiculous limits and sometimes we get pushed past our limits tipping the scale away from our best interest; creating an unsustainable imbalance.
For two years I was on hyper-drive and I didn’t notice… until one day I snapped, and a person emerged out of myself that I did not recognize. This realization had me re-evaluating my life and what I wanted out of it. These big decisions take me awhile to make because I obsessively analyze and truly try to see what is best for me and for those I love.
The Sparks Notes of what lead me to this moment of contemplation was the amount of travel I was doing for work. When I first started doing this, I found this to be incredible. I am an adventurer through and through so an opportunity to see new places had me drooling with excitement. I loved travelling then and I still do. However, I have learned that balance is essential to making travel manageable and sustainable.
Instead of travelling half the week like I was originally told, I found I was travelling Monday to Friday and sometimes Saturday's too. So, my 40 hour work week grew to 70 plus hours without me noticing the impact of being overworked.
I was doing the type of travel that has you on a plane (or two) every day to a different city. This took away my opportunity to explore the cities I was I was in. Most people become regulars at their favourite coffee shop, yoga studio, gym, restaurant and/or pub. I became a regular at the airport, various hotel rooms, and the psychiatric practices I was teaching at...
My travel became so frequent from coast to coast that I became disoriented. Again, I didn’t notice right away, so it became normal for me to wake up in the middle of the night in a panic because I didn't know where I was. To remedy this, I started sleeping with the light on. It also became normal to arrive at my hotel at 1:00 in the morning and wake up at 6:00 am to get ready for the next workday.
I put my heart and soul into my work because I am the type of person who prides herself on full effort. I become incredibly passionate about what I immerse myself in. This made my days long and draining despite my best efforts. I started noticing that I was living off coffee and protein bars because I would skip lunch and frequently not have time to get dinner before my next flight took off.
Retrospectively, I can now see that I was fully stressing my body out. I honestly, did not notice the impact this had for quite some time. Even though my partner and my mom would try to subtly and not so subtly point it out. It wasn’t until my first week into my 300 hour teacher training that it fully sunk in.
I realized that this lifestyle was not one I wanted. I no longer wanted to be home so infrequently that it would take my partner and I a day or two to get used to having each other around, before I would be off again on another work week... Once I realized this, a massive change needed to be made. And so, a massive change was made in order to live my best life. I gave my notice, applied to school for the fall term, and moved to Bali for two months to pursue an immersive yoga school.
If we delve deeper into the physical body and look at the central nervous system, we can safely state that a lot of people spend a good chunk of time with an active sympathetic nervous system. This means a lot of cortisol (stress response hormone) is released into the bloodstream. The American Psychological Association released statistics a few years back stating that 77% of their sample size experienced physical symptoms as a side-effect of their stress. That could range from gastrointestinal troubles, ulcers, psychosomatic responses such irritable bowel syndrome to increased mental health concerns such as comorbid diagnoses of depression and anxiety.
This exemplifies the need for better stress management in our society. Especially since the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) states that nearly 1 in 5 people suffer from a depressive episode per year and nearly 1 in 5 people suffer from an Anxiety Disorder. This prevalence of mental illness can be partially attributed to the lack of balance within life.
Shifting the pendulum back to the side of balance is something that yoga has helped me with. My own journey is constantly evolving but my biggest takeaway is living a life of balance. Chasing after your dreams but remember who you are along the way. Remembering to breathe, to enjoy a meal, sleep enough and love on your body and mind for all the hard work we constantly ask it to do. It’s these simple tasks that are so easy to ignore that make our time on this planet that much more enjoyable.
Take these moments for yourself, you need it. As a teacher, and as a human on this earth, I intend on sharing these tools with people so that they too can go from a sense of imbalance to saying, “I’m balanced.”