For those of us embarking on a spiritual quest, one of the most challenging practices can often be to find a balance amidst the rush of our daily lives. We seek to become and remain at perfect peace with ourselves in all situations, whatever may come our way. We want to treat all people, even those who may have hurt us, with the same level of compassion. We may seek to maintain neutral composure regardless of how we may feel, how excited, sad, angry, or happy we may be. In fact, many feel that in order for us to achieve balance in our lives, we need to let go of precisely those qualities that make us human.
Take, for example, a person who wishes to find peace in his life. He creates a situation for himself in which he feel satisfied with his job and his private life. He feels that he can go to work each day and come home to eat dinner, read a book, and retire to bed at the end of the day. He is pleased with this pace. Then comes a time when he realizes that he is bored. He feels something is missing. There is no excitement, no variety in his life. Everything has become a little too neutral. Could we say that this man has truly been able to cultivate balance in his life, if he continues to long for something more?
I feel that, when we seek a sense of balance, we may forget that in this life, we are experiencing a human existence. So, why try to get away from ourselves by stripping ourselves of everything with which we have been gifted? I believe that by giving up everything that makes us happy and living a monastic life, some of us, but not others, can achieve enlightenment. Personally, if I were to give up what makes me most happy in this life, I would not feel at ease with myself. Something would be amiss.
Perhaps this is where the challenge truly lies. Instead of deciding to live an ascetic life, devoid of earthly pleasures, we can work to find a careful balance. For some of us, finding the True Self may be facilitated by consciously discarding the many pleasures that this life has to offer. Others, however, are on a different path. And that is okay. I feel that we would be doing ourselves a disservice by attempting to force ourselves into a place in which we feel miserable, simply because we feel we should be living our lives differently, the way those we look up to may live their own lives.
Does giving up sweets make you happy by eliminating this pleasure that often makes us feel oh-so-guilty, or does it make us long for that taste even more than before? Therein lies the lesson. By gently testing our boundaries and renouncing something, we can try to find a place that makes us feel at peace. Challenges are healthy, but only in so far as we allow ourselves to draw lessons from the challenges. If you are not ready to give up chocolate at this time, by all means continue to enjoy it. However, perhaps you could eat more mindfully, enjoying smaller portions of your favourite treat and only eating as much as you feel helps to satisfy your craving so you can move on to focus on other matters.
I will end here and leave you to contemplate another quote from a book I’m currently reading, Nischala Joy Devi’s The Secret Power of Yoga: A Woman’s Guide to the Heart and Spirit of the Yoga Sutras:
“Many teachers and translators of the scriptures encourage us to avoid the sweetness in life to better prepare us for the big payoff, enlightenment. It is actually the opposite. By generously sprinkling our lives with joy and sweetness, their seeds take root within us, reflecting in our every action. This ever-present joy is the greatest enlightenment and it can be ours right now!”
Affirmation: “I carefully test the waters of my life to find perfect balance.”
Wishing you a peaceful week! Sat Nam, and Namaste!