If I don’t honour each part of myself, each room, with conscious attention each day, soon they start to get a little dusty… messy. Clutter starts to pile up. Cobwebs drape the corners and soon I don’t recognize them anymore.
I have been pondering: why bring mindfulness to creating balance in my daily life?
Because I can’t think my way into spirituality any more than I can feel sadness to be physically fit or do the dishes for mental health.
Our bodies are our homes. But home is not just the body – it is the container for all the rest of what embodies who we are.
In our ‘homes’ there are a few main rooms: physical, mental, emotional and, for some, spiritual. A life of balance means spending time in each of those rooms every day. Respecting them, celebrating them, keeping them clean, decorating them with our own style, inviting others in as wanted or needed, or simply being in solitude in them.
Physically, it can mean proper nutrition, fitness, enough sleep, personal hygiene and health. Mentally, it’s about using intellect and discernment. Emotionally, it’s allowing space for emotions and feelings. Spiritually, it can be about consciousness, reverence, or whatever we define as sacred.
When it’s time to eat, I eat. When it’s time to think, I use my brain. When it’s time to connect, I soften and become quiet. Mindfulness. It’s all about paying attention to and respecting what I need for wellness at any given time, with honesty and compassion.
Rooms out of balance
If I don’t honour each part of myself, each room, with conscious attention each day, soon the rooms which I’ve neglected start to get a little dusty… messy. Clutter starts to pile up. Cobwebs drape the corners and soon I don’t recognize the room anymore. I don’t want to. I avoid the room like the plague, not wanting to deal with the horrors within.
If I am not comfortable and familiar with all parts of my self – all rooms – my life turns to crap. Quickly.
I become afraid, distant, and judgmental of myself and the world around me. I become more controlling in an attempt to keep away those scary monsters inside. Fear of what lurks within drives me to ignore what I don’t want to see. I may become physically ill, emotionally withdrawn, mentally overworked, or spiritually disconnected.
Strangely, I assume that if I shut and lock the door on those messes and monsters they’ll not bother me and I’ll be able to find peace in the other rooms instead. I attempt to enjoy life anyway, demanding “good vibes only” from others while humming to drown out the sounds of tortured moaning coming from the parts of myself which I’ve been too afraid to face.
Maybe if I just keep the other rooms extra clean, I won’t have to worry about the one that’s too dark, dirty and terrifying to open. But there’s always that unsettled rumbling from deep within.
How do we know which rooms we need to look after?
We don’t necessarily need to, nor is it always possible to, spend equal amounts of time in all rooms every day. The ratio of amount of time spent in each isn’t what creates balance. What matters is the level of consciousness we bring to each room on that day.
So how do I spend time in each room? What do I do?
Whatever is most needed in the moment. It’s all about checking in with myself honestly, and discerning what I most need on any given day.
(Incidentally, my internal measuring stick for this is not necessarily what I want or what feels good. If I’m needing to lose weight and I opt to pig out on a double-fudge chocolate sundae, you can bet your ass I’m going to feel great stuffing my face with it at the time. But overall, it’s not in my best interests and definitely won’t help me lose weight. Jennifer Louden calls these “shadow comforts” – the things that provide momentary indulgence, but not necessarily wellness.)
So, first I discern what is the next right thing for self-care on that day, in that moment.
What do acts of creating balance actually look like?
Once I know which room needs my attention, I create or clear the space in which to sink into the experience of that ‘room’.
If I need to be physically active, I may go for a long walk. If I’m feeling emotional, I may write in my journal or listen to soothing music. If I need mental stimulation, I may put on an interesting documentary or work on something. If I need spiritual connection, I may turn off technology and enjoy inner reflection by candlelight.
Some days, spending time in a room is a pleasant, comforting experience. The space is clean and clear, and I can sit back and relax in it. Thoroughly enjoy where I am. Other days, there’s a lot of cleaning to be done, and the time in this room is more about doing some challenging work.
Either way, mindfulness is bringing my attention to whatever is in that room at any given time. Showing up to whatever comes from within with courage, strength and dignity.
Whatever I am doing, I am fully present with it
The thing is, inner peace doesn’t come when I struggle to find it. In fact, the more I chase and cling, the further away I get.
So it’s all about relaxing into the experience. Be in it fully, with awareness, with intention. With mindfulness.
It starts within.