Balanced Living – time to stop the insanity …
People often ask me what it means to live a yogic life. It’s not about stretching your bones into weird positions, I tell them. It’s not about peculiar breathing practices or exotic chanting.
Yogic living is quite simply, balanced living. For example, Swami Gitananda, in some of his notes about the yoga diet remarked that “anyone who makes a religion out of food has missed the point of sane living.”
But some folks take this idea as a licence to indulge all their cravings, don’t they? Balance living doesn’t mean that we can do drugs and drink alcohol, just as long as we only do it once in awhile.
Destructive habits of this kind are not the realm of someone who wants health and wellbeing. Just as Swamiji also used to say, “if you play with junk, you will be junk!”
A stress-free life REQUIRES balanced living
… and when it comes to our WORK, that’s where most of us FAIL miserably. Overwork is a balance killer!
It keeps us from spending time with our family, It keeps us from being able to nurture friendships; It often makes us eat less nutritionally than we should;
and it keeps us from having the time and energy to get a proper amount of exercise for good health.
Without regulated, balanced living, how can we hope to have a balanced mind?
… which we need.
It’s the poise of a balanced mind that enables us to proceed in life with vairagya, or detachment … which allows us to “do our best and leave the rest”
… a 100% stress-free attitude if ever there was one.
That balance living of the yogic life also means taking care of ourselves on all levels: mental, physical and emotional.
You do Take care of yourself, don’t you?
I know that there are always a hundred and one reasons to skip a healthy meal when you’re busy. There’s no shortage of excuses not to exercise today either, especially when your day is already full.
It sometimes seems to me that most people take better care of their automobiles than they do their own bodies … and one day that neglect finally catches up with them.
Did you know?
… the state of your health … your physical, mental and emotional fitness … contributes significantly to your ability to manage and resist stress?
Of course you did. But have you every thought about how much your poor health contributes to the stress of others too?
If your father already had 3 heart attacks, is diabetic and smokes 3 packs of cigarettes a day, would that make you feel stressed? If your daughter was a drug addict, how stressful would that be for you?
Yoga teaches us the right use and care of this body we’ve been gifted.
It teaches us proper diet, the necessity for regular exercise and conditioning, and other measures to maintain a healthy mental and emotional state … all of which form part of the foundation for healthy, stress-free, balanced living.
A little yoga bhavana goes a long way …
Through the three parts of this article I outlined how adopting a few basic yogic attitudes can almost completely eliminate unnatural stress from our lives.
Firstly, (from part one) remembering that we are not individuals of any profound importance here on this earth, and that we are all in this life together, lays the foundation for harmonious, non-competitive, stress-free living.
Secondly, (from part two) taking a positive attitude throughout the day transforms us from being someone who is affected by our circumstances, into someone who helps shape them into more positive and meaningful experiences for everyone involved.
… And thirdly, regulated, balanced living is the key, which includes taking care of yourself physically, mentally and emotional too.
Of course, all these ideas revolve around the central notion of yoga as a way of life and not just a “class” that we go to a few times a week.
But ideas are only the starting point of transformation. As Swami Sivananda often mentioned, “A gram of practice is worth a ton of theory.”
Change takes action … and nobody can do the work for us. Swami Gitananda used to remind everyone that “health and happiness are your birthright.” BUT it’s up to you to claim that right.
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