Monday, September 29, 2014

Seeking true life balance

My husband recently started practicing the martial art Aikido. It is a unique martial art in that the purpose is not to hurt your opponent but to harmonize with the energy and movement of your opponent, and then redirect that energy to protect yourself.

This Saturday my husband invited me to join in his Aikido class. It was difficult for me to get the movement down and focus on reflecting and redirecting energy instead of attacking as I'd learned in prior karate training. It all seemed counterintuitive, but with some practice, it became easier.

During a demonstration, the sensei shared something that caught my attention. He was explaining the importance of having balance so you can properly redirect your partner's energy. He said, "Balance is key. It doesn't matter how strong you are, if you're off balance, if you don't have a good position, you are going to fall."
My husband drew this for his art class last semester, and I think
it captures the meaning of true balance.
The sensei's comment caused me to think about how the balance lessons of Aikido could apply to the rest of life.

I've often felt that for my life to be balanced, I had to spend the same amount of effort and time on everything I did (working two jobs, cooking, cleaning, being a mom, taking time for myself, eating, exercising, going on dates, socializing, serving in church, reading scriptures, etc).

For me balance=total equality.

Here's the problem with that thinking. If I have to spend an equal amount of time and effort on everything, then I run out of those resources quite quickly.

For example, I've committed to work at least 10 hours a week at one of my jobs (roughly 2 hours a day). If I use the total equality mentality and do everything on my above list for 2 hours a day, that adds up to 22 hours! That leaves only 2 hours for me to sleep, and we all know that won't work.

The total equality mentality also leaves no room for flexibility. If I've already played with my son for 2 hours in the morning, and he wants to go to the park in the afternoon, well, too bad, so sad. Or if I have an unexpected work call or a friend wants to come over, it will throw my time balance out of whack.

With the total equality mentality, no matter how strong I am, I will eventually "fall over" because total equality is not really what balance is.

So what is balance?

After thinking more about the sensei's comment, I realized balance is more synonymous with harmony. Balance is not about having capability or strength to do everything you want to do or everything on your to do list.

Balance is more about keeping the different areas of your life in harmony. Connecting with some things and redirecting others to focus on what is most important.

It also helps to look at balance from a holistic perspective. I may not be able to do the laundry, finish a work project, spend time with a friend, and have personal time in the same day, but I could do all those things in a week or even a month as I connect and redirect the energy of the things I'd like to do.

If you think about a chord in a song as a one day in your life, focusing on getting harmony in one day is a good thing but only part of the picture. Our internal, personal harmony with God, ourselves, and others is the beautiful symphony that gives meaning to the daily chords. It is the foundation that gives us the firm position to direct the energy and movement of our lives.

So whether you want to think of balance as a strong position in Aikido or a holistic symphony, remember that it is not about doing everything all at once. It is about focusing on the foundational harmony of being at peace with God, yourself, and others.

"For it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength" (Mosiah 4:27).

"Remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundationwhereon if men build they cannot fall." (Helaman 5:12)

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