As I often do at the end of a Yoga class, I read a quote from "A Year of Living Your Yoga" by Judith Lasater on Tuesday evening and have been reflecting on it ever since. It reads:-
"Balance is not a static state but it is like a pendulum that swings from side to side - We all crave balance. But too often we think balance means perfection. Instead, be grateful for your mistakes and regrets: they give balance to your victories and celebrations".
I like this.
Too much of my life has been spent berating myself for my imperfections, for my inability - ironically - to find the balance. And it is funny because you do need to swing both ways to find the balance in the middle again - you need the dark to experience the light, the sadness to experience the joy, the bitter to experience the sweet. But it is the extent of the swinging, which is important.
I have spent much of my life being an extremist, all or nothing. My experience of Yoga has been a reflection of this (as it often is, what happens on the mat is often a reflection of what is happening in our lives), from the minute I discovered Yoga over 8 years ago I was hooked. It became everything to me and I was desperate to be "perfect" at it. Not just on the mat but in life generally. All of a sudden I had an even stricter set of codes for living to follow, from the purity of thought to the purity of action and even the purity of food. I set the barometer high.
So of course the imbalances got stronger, the ones already there, so that the extremes were more noticeable, and I was harder on myself. It all came crashing down two years ago now when I experienced adrenal fatigue and general exhaustion. I had been pushing myself too hard in my quest to do and to be my very best, working full time as a Yoga teacher and holistic practitioner, working every hour of every day, always giving and not looking after myself in the process - rather ironic really. Crash and burn.
So I learnt the need for balance in a rather big way, for the middle path, treading carefully! Also of course learning to accept the perceived imperfections, to embrace all aspects of one's being, self acceptance ultimately. And with that allowing the pendulum to swing less erratically, more grounded, less air-headed.
Ayurveda can help so much with this, and is something I have tapped into quite a bit in the past few years. To me, Ayurveda is truly inspiring, the most ancient and authentically recorded health system in history, over 5,000 years old, it was created by yogis who spent their lives studying nature and the human condition. Meaning “the science of life” it is exactly that, viewing health in four dimensions of physical, sensory, mental and spiritual and is centred on preventative medicine and bringing a person back to balance.
It shows how an imbalance in one part of a person’s being will affect them in another, i.e. if a person isn’t being true to their life path (dharma) then physical and mental illnesses can arise which cannot be effectively treated with modern medicines but can be helped by Ayurveda.
Ayurveda uses elemental medicine which means that they balance out earth, fire, water, air and ether in the body. These are divided into three doshas, Vata, Pitta and Kapha, which are the basis of a person’s constitution and also the factors that can create imbalances. Ayurveda places great emphasis on diet, lifestyle, yoga, meditation, massage and herbal medicines to bring a person back to health and keep them there - and health, to quote from the Ayurvedic Health Home in Kathmandu, is “a dynamic process, an inner joyfulness, like a flow of the river or a breeze of the wind".
I have a rather wonderful Ayurvedic doctor in Brighton who has helped me so much, I love the fact the science considers you a whole person and ultimately balances the imbalances in a gentle and yet profound way. I love the way it impacts on your life, in terms of your energy changes and so does the nature of your life, as indeed you start to live more true to your nature, more accepting of it perhaps.
So thankfully the extremes are no longer so extreme. We live and learn. Mindfulness. There are so many keys. Ultimately it is all a learning experience, all part of the bigger picture, the spiritual journey. The one that takes us back to our true self.