“We teach often what we most need to learn.” ~ Richard Bach
Sometimes life has to smack us in the face in order to get us to listen. This is an unfortunate repercussion of not paying attention to something our body, mind or heart is trying to tell us. It can bring us to total inability to function in a certain area of our lives. That’s what happened to me, anyway.
A sinus infection hit me a few weeks ago and I thought, Huh, this is odd, I haven’t been sick in a long time. Because I am no stranger to this annoying bug from living in smoggy Southern California for years, I mindlessly fed myself antibiotics, a couple of Advil and kept plugging away with work and play, ignoring my body’s gentle call to take a time out and rest. I was having so much fun, why would I ? Rest is for the weak! I don’t need to rest! I still wonder where that judgmental voice came from, but alas, I marched along.
Then things got worse. The medications weren’t helping and I was getting mad. So, I went to acupuncture. It didn’t help. I took one 15-minute nap. It didn’t help. At this point, I was feeling so terrible I literally couldn’t focus or function. With much-needed guidance from my friends and family, I finally gave myself permission to rest for three days without any work and little play. It took this extreme circumstance for me get it: I was still sick because I was completely out of balance and ignoring my body’s cry to fully check out and rest. It wasn’t until then (and another visit to the doctor to properly diagnose and medicate a viral infection, not a bacterial infection) that it dawned on me that even if I am experiencing joy, I need be proactive and take time out to completely rest in order to maintain balance.
The purpose of our existence and fulfillment comes from balancing our three centers: mind, heart and body. For each of us, our “home base” tends to be one of the three, the center where we operate from most of the time. Another is our “blind spot,” the area we tend to ignore. In my case (as you can probably surmise by now), my blind spot is my body. What’s interesting is that before this illness, I thought I was on point because I generally take good care of my body by eating nutritious foods and getting regular exercise. But clearly that’s not enough. The art of finding balance is to identify our blind spot (mind, body or heart) and make it a priority to nourish and pay attention to that part of ourselves before it hinders our ability to function in some way.
Too often, we live in the side effect of our imbalance. If we can cultivate the part of ourselves that will remember, we will know what we need to do in order to regain equilibrium. The trick is getting motivated to do it before life cuts you off at the knees and forces you to pay attention to your blind spot. In my case, it wasn’t enough for someone to say, “Gee Stacy, you’ve been running around like a madwoman, why don’t you take a rest?” No way. I was rolling along on auto-pilot mode, and didn’t even realize that I was out of balance. I had to learn the hard way.
We’ve all been there – overdoing or underdoing it in one aspect or another of our lives. The irony is every time we move toward alignment (in my case, resting my body), feelings of anger, resistance, shame or guilt often arise. Our capacity to be present and listen to those feelings is what will bring about balance. At first, it feels empty and threatening. There’s so much to do! I can’t just sit here and do nothing! But as we organically and gently let go of these fearful thoughts, a sensation of warmth and holding appears. Be with it. The longer you can be with the feeling of emptiness, the sooner it will fade away.
It seems obvious, but listen to your body, mind and heart when they speak to you. I’m curious to learn about your experiences in the comments section below. Which area do you feel the strongest? Which area is the weakest? How do you find balance of the three centers in your life?