How often do you make resolutions to care more for yourself and then renege on these promises when the going gets challenging?
When the pace of life gathers speed and I struggle to keep up, I tend to place my plans for pleasure on the back-burner whilst drowning in droll drudgery which seems to sap me of all vitality.
This dilemma is a wee bone of contention. Mostly due to the fact that honouring myself as a priority is a relatively new behaviour for me. New patterns and behaviours are always a challenge, but this one for me has been a tug-o-war.
I sat enjoying my coffee with my journal this morning as I pondered this quandary.
So often we chide ourselves for our perceived laziness. Placing drudgery ahead of pleasure is what being an adult is about. Delayed gratification builds character apparently. In contrast, much of our life seems to be about seeking balance and moderation. So why is it that life often seems to strongly coerce us into an unbalanced lifestyle focussed on “must” rather than “desire”?
As I pondered the art of balance and the way we seem to move from one extreme to the other, I felt the particles of my body vibrating and shifting like they do when I am heading into a meditative state. In my mind a picture of a swinging pendulum came into focus. The following thoughts flowed out my pen and onto the page.
The counterweight of the pendulum moves from one extreme to the other until it eventually reaches a point of balance. When we are trying to develop new behaviours that are vastly different to our existing patterns, we need to be disciplined and single-minded. However, for most of us there is the tendency to slip back into behaviours we find more comfortable.
To judge ourselves for doing this is futile. After all, it is a part of the natural order of things to swing from one to the other before encountering the balance. It is about learning what feels right and comfortable for us. And that which is right and comfortable is different for each and every one of us.
As I sat there, the image of the pendulum swinging transformed into three trapeze artists in motion, akin to the Totality card in the Osho Zen deck.
When life is hectic and we struggle with multitasking, we dilute our capacity to create wholly. We get bogged down with the “chores” and lose the ability to focus on one thing at a time. As a result, goals take longer to achieve. We don’t complete the tasks we start. Inevitably we judge and punish ourselves, subsequently denying ourselves the kindness we so rightly deserve. At this junction, I often rebel with a “stuff you” mentality. The arduous task is left in a pile on the floor as I leave the room in search of some sense of freedom and comfort.
One Step At A Time
The Totality card reminds us of the importance of “taking one step through life at a time”. Each step is imbued with complete attention and energy, so much so that it becomes a meditation of sorts. Inevitably what is encountered is a sense of clarity and rejuvenation. How can this be when we are up to our eyeballs in tasks that bore us stupid?
Well, this is where things get really interesting (at least I think so). When we are able to totally focus on one task at a time, we become present. As our minds are in the moment and we are just being, our minds become empty vessels. All of a sudden there is capacity for creativity and joy and all of that good stuff. As a result, we begin to enjoy the perceived mundane tasks as they appear less arduous. A feeling of harmony and ease pervades.
Balance is Totality
Perhaps the kindness and balance we seek is to be found when we become absorbed in the arduous, mundane tasks rather than by being overwhelmed by them and all of the things in our lives which vies for our immediate attention.
Maybe we need to establish a deli counter in our minds where all of our demands need to take a number in accordance with their urgency. Everything can be dealt with in time, with due attention but without overwhelm.
With this realisation, I deeply exhale. In theory this all sounds magnificent and refreshing. But can it work in my fast-paced reality?
As I reflect on the trapeze artists, I see a photo of a ribbon acrobat performing at a death defying height, seemingly tangled in fabric. Smiling, I realise I am looking at a metaphor.
Our capacity to establish a priority system for handling our daily demands is so often driven by our perception.
We can choose to look at that ribbon acrobat and worry about her being tangled in the fabric (and inevitably plummeting to her demise). Alternatively, we can be inspired by her capacity to be totally in the moment. That perceived entanglement transfigures into a vision of elegant freedom. The fabric is now seen as supportive rather than a threat.
Yet again I am led to the understanding that a choice is ours to make. We are empowered to decide how we proceed with the way we approach change or the mundane yet sticky tasks we need to confront. That is where our freedom truly resides.
Feature photos courtesy of Pixabay