Balancing act 🤹 | Issue #4
Juggling life in search of joy
From Aristotle's Golden mean to Buddha Middle way, the notion of life balance is believed to bring happiness and fulfillment.
how yoga tradition defines life balance
how balanced your life is - are you living in extremes?
where you need to shift your priorities to feel more joy.
🧘🏽 Focus Pose
A strong core is essential to daily activity. From getting up from bed to walking up the stairs and carrying grocery bags – these muscles help us do things we take for granted.
But besides being a vital part of physical balance, our core also has a not-so-obvious superpower: it works closely with the diaphragm to help you breathe deeper and more efficiently.
So whenever life throws you off, you’ll be well prepared to catch your “mental balance” and adapt quickly.
Prep & How-To:
Begin on your hands and knees in a tabletop position.
Align shoulders over wrists and hips over knees.
Inhale and raise your head and tailbone towards the sky while dropping your belly to the mat.
Gently gaze upward.
Press into your hands. Breathe out and draw your belly up and in as you arch your spine toward the ceiling.
Gently drop the chin to the chest and tuck your tailbone.
Alternate between steps 1 & 2 for about 5 breaths.
Start in a neutral tabletop position.
Keep your hips over the knees and walk your hands out in front of you, slowly lowering your chest down. If accessible, release your forehead down to the ground.
Press through your palms and stay straight with your arms, keeping your elbows off the ground.
Keep your neck relaxed.
Hold for about 5 breaths and press back into the tabletop.
Start in a neutral tabletop position.
On an exhale, activate your core by drawing the belly up and in without arching your back. The sensation is similar to as if you’re trying to zip up a pair of tight jeans.
Extend your left arm forward, reaching through the fingertips.
Extend your right leg back, toes tucked.
If you feel balanced, lift your leg off the ground. Stay level with your hips.
Gaze down between your palms.
Hold for about three long breaths and switch sides.
🧠 Brain Food
According to yoga philosophy, we can achieve a balanced and happy life through working on four Purusharthas - four aims of life. These are Dharma, Artha, Kama, and Moksha.
🛣️ Dharma (meaning duty, righteousness, responsibility) refers to a life's purpose, a virtuous living.
It’s believed that each living being is born to serve a specific purpose - Dharma. Only through finding this purpose, we can lead a life of ease and harmony.
In essence, Dharma refers to a form of behavior and daily actions you take that serve the universe and society and leave you personally fulfilled.
Dharma may manifest on different levels depending on your social role. As a parent, your Dharma is to raise your kids, as an employee - to show up to work, as a citizen - to pay taxes. Getting proper rest, food, and sleep are actions that constitute personal Dharma since you won't have the energy to fulfill your obligations in the world without appropriate self-care.
You can better understand/uncover your Dharma by asking yourself and reflecting on key questions:
What are the things I like doing/have talent toward that simultaneously bring good to others?
What obligations do I have?
Which of these feel right?
💰 Artha (meaning abundance, wealth, prosperity, success) refers to everything we need to live in this material world.
If compared to a popular in Western world Maslow's pyramid, Artha would comprise Physiological and Safety needs - food, shelter, a secure environment, and of course, money.
In a way, Artha creates a foundation for Dharma since we all need a certain level of comfort to serve others. When you're hungry and thinking about how to make ends meet to pay rent, higher goals such as helping your community or even meditating would probably be the last on your mind. Plus, if your Dharma is to be a doctor, you will need college money to get the necessary skills and knowledge.
That said, Artha should never become the primary goal. If your desire for wealth is driven by greed rather than good intentions, the balance is lost.
In the modern world, where it's hard to know when enough is enough, you might want to ask yourself:
How much do I need to fulfill my role?
Do the things I own bring me joy or leave me wanting more?
😋 Kama (meaning pleasure) is the desire for sensuality, fun, and all the things that bring delight.
Kama is strongly connected to our five senses. It refers to simple pleasures such as eating nice food or having sex as well as encompasses the desire for fellowship, intimacy, creativity.
Longing for pleasure is a part of being humans, but just like Artha Kama has a destructive effect when it becomes a primary life goal.
Ask these questions to do a self-check if you have enough Kama or, on the contrary, have become a slave to Kama:
Am I enjoying my life?
Am I addicted to one type of pleasure or another?
Are the things I'm doing for pleasure support my life's purpose - Dharma?
🧘 Moksha (meaning freedom), in its highest sense, means the ultimate self-realization.
It’s the liberation from desires and the life-rebirth cycle of suffering.
That said, Moksha doesn't have to be some distant, unattainable state.
We can get a glimpse of Moksha every day through simple spiritual practices that help us live here and now.
When working on Moksha, start by asking yourself:
What makes me feel trapped?
What can I do to free myself from negative perceptions, emotions, and past experiences?
Try this Wheel Of Life coaching exercise to assess:
how satisfied you are with your life at the moment
how well you’re balancing different areas of life
what areas to focus on to find more joy.
Choose your 8 most important life categories. Think in terms of your Dharma, Artha, Kama, and Moksha. The typical categories include:
Assign each category a piece of chart pie (see template below).
Assess your satisfaction level in each category from the lowest 1 to the highest 10.
Identify disbalance. See what categories are the weakest and need more attention.
The wheel of life is not a solution to a balanced life, but it gives a visual representation of where you are at the moment and what areas need troubleshooting. Our life balance is continuously changing and shifting, so repeat the exercise every few months to track your progress.
Got a journal? Download the printable template here.
Got any questions, suggestions, or feedback? Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.