Balance has been an elusive concept for me for most of my life. Once I started teaching and later became a parent, it sometimes feels like it has become an antagonist to the dizzying pace in which I have chosen to live my life.
And yet, the idea of it, so simple, is so grand, but somewhat uneven for my experience.
Then, as I sat this weekend thumbing through Sanctuaries: Self-Care Secrets for Stressed-Out Teachers by Dan Tricarico, I stumbled upon the chapter on Harmony.
This is a concept I can get behind.
Tricarico writes, “Of course, as much as we may try to adjust the scales to create a balance, life and The Universe frequently have other plans, and we often end up feeling off-kilter rather than balanced. When you seek harmony instead of a precarious sense of balance, however, you can work in alignment with your true self, and in so doing, access a sense of peace and tranquility, even in those moments when the world spins just a little too fast.” (p. 17)
Harmony, as stated, is more about being in tune with the life you want to have and finding a way to bring everything into alignment.
Through the chaos of everyday life, the book suggests the following:
- Know your value system and act within it. We all must know what our non-negotiables are and we must participate in experiences that enhance the values that matter most to us. If we find ourselves in situations that don’t align, the feeling of being out of balance is certain. We must get clear about what is essential to us personally and then make decisions that create harmony with that value system. If eating a healthy meal with your family is important, then make sure to be free and at home when it is time to eat each night.
- Spend time with people you like. The suggestions in this section are spot on. Too often, we are forced to spend our waking hours around people we don’t necessarily like. Spending that energy being collegial and professional is one thing, but when it comes to our own personal time, we must surround ourselves with folks who vibe at the same level we do. There is nothing better than hanging out, having good conversation with people you love, and that certainly helps to bring harmony into our lives, especially if those we don’t choose are negative.
- Listen to your body. This is sometimes a tough one for me. As I mentioned earlier, I move so fast sometimes that I can’t hear or even feel the way the world is communicating with me physically. Our bodies often send us important messages we need to heed, but we fail to listen, and that’s when trouble strikes. Those are the moments we get sick or have a panic attack or a migraine. Our body forces us to slow down when we can’t do it for ourselves. When those moments arise, we must honor the needs our bodies have and nurture them the way they require.
- Practice Self-Compassion. Ask me to be compassionate for another human being, no problem. Taking care of others is kind of my thing, and I suspect if you’re a teacher, it could be your thing, too. However, when it comes to taking care of ourselves, understanding our own limits and boundaries, it isn’t as easy. Much like listening to our bodies, having self-compassion is essential to finding harmony in our lives. We need to be able to recognize our own humanness and treat ourselves kindly.
- Find your Zen practice. A Zen practice is that thing that you love to do that fires you up on the inside and recharges everything that makes you passionate. This “one thing” will be different for everyone, but being in tune with what yours is can be a game changer. Writing is a Zen practice for me. Perhaps not writing on this blog or books, but writing in general. When I was growing up, poetry was my first obsession. Completely immersed in the world around me, my senses, and my feelings, I could capture moments with words, the way some capture it with photographs or art. Later, photography became a second Zen practice, seeing the world through my camera lens, capturing what others don’t necessarily notice. When we have a Zen practice that fills us up, it restores harmony in our lives. For many of us, teaching is a Zen practice and therefore creates harmony when we are in a flow state with our work.
- Identify your purpose. Purpose, like our value systems, keeps us in check, so knowing our why will always keep us in harmony. It is easy, of course, to lose sight of our why when we get caught up in the day to day minutia. Part of identifying this purpose is to help ground us and bring the music of our daily lives back into a harmonious arrangement. Once we know our purpose, the more aligned we can make sure everything in our lives are.
Many of us need permission to find harmony in our lives because we expect so much of ourselves that giving ourselves the things we need when we need them almost feels selfish. Taking care of our own needs and being able to address our passions is the only truly compassionate way to live. We simply can’t be our best for others if we aren’t our best for ourselves first.
What do you need in your life to find harmony? Please share
The opinions expressed in Work in Progress are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.