Awhile ago, Jon asked me what this term balance was all about because I’ve been throwing the word around like beads at a Mardi Gras parade (with less flashing). My hippie friends and I are often saying things like: “My doshas are not in balance” or “I need to work on being more balanced” or “Get that balance out of your pocket!”…..okay the last one doesn’t make sense, but what is this elusive balance that we are trying to achieve?
I’ve come to realize that no matter what you eat, or how you eat it, there are going to be toxins in life that need to be addressed. Disease cannot be managed by medicine alone. These toxins come in not just through your food, but through your thought patterns and emotional choices. Don’t get me wrong, food is wildly important in health. It clears out the excessive toxins so your body can work on the real crap (pun intended). Food is my medicine, thank you Hippocrates, and it is much preferred to 9 pills a day or steroids for me. But it’s not the whole picture. This pyramid seems a closer for nutritional guidelines:
I think it’s missing a component on sleep and also fun. I also think vegetables should be a larger section with fewer grains, definitely fewer proteins, and maybe even less fruit. Veggies are pretty important. At any rate, what this pyramid does show is that there has to be a balance between ALL of these areas in your life. Without that balance, you can eat as much organic broccoli as you want….if your outer red circle is toxic crap, you will feel like toxic crap. And for relationships, this applies hugely to the relationship with yourself as well as others.
I didn’t realize it, but somewhere along the way, I was fighting my inner wisdom and had sort of misaligned my relationship with self. I was at war with my self-acceptance, my natural beauty, and now I have this “disease” that is literally eating up my colon with its own acids. Great. It left me with many feelings of shame, guilt, anger, imbalance, confusion and discouragement. The strange part is that throughout this whole process, I was and am a super happy person. I love my life and my family and friends. But it is so hard for me to allow myself to feel true, unadulterated joy. I often stop myself from being 100% vulnerable or 100% free. I get damn close! But still I stop at 98%. That’s my move! I stop short. Why?? I feel….undeserving for some reason. I struggle with the concept that I am special and that I have a right to a good life because I don’t want to come off as an entitled jerk. What makes me different from the person who is outside, right now as I type this, without a home, without someone to take of them, shivering cold and hungry? I am a human, same as them. To me, my joy and amazing life is somehow a smack in their face.
I also have never enjoyed the idea that I am not in control. Of anything. And everything. :) So when situations occur where I am not in control of my body or my surroundings, I become very anxious. Toxically anxious. I don’t want to go to a place where I have to surrender everything. This was a completely foreign concept for me when I was first introduced to it. Surrender? Give in? Never!!??! I am an amazonian woman warrior and I can do ANYTHING. Give me something. I will dominate it. Giving in felt like giving up and I had not once opened myself up to having an experience where I had to give in and surrender. I refused to show any weakness.
This may seem like a jump, but I’ll bring it back together. :) My therapist had me do an exercise the other day where I had to invite different feelings into my body, including love, guilt and joy. Inviting love and joy into your body is one thing, that was awesome. :) Inviting guilt??! I have tried for so so long to push guilt out of my body that it was a strange guest. But it was immensely powerful to do it. I made a few realizations with the exercise:
1–I am really good at breathing now! I am very effective at breathing into areas, thoughts….being breathed by them is wonderful as well. And through yoga and ujjayi breathing, I can bring these emotions in and out of my body relatively easily. So I have that going for me. Which is nice.
2–There’s only so many parts of your body and consequently, only so many parts of your body where you can experience emotions. As luck would have it, love and guilt were both felt for me in my gut. Shocker.
3–Emotions and feelings can only last so long. Some longer than others, definitely, but they are not with you forever. Reminding myself of that and experiencing it physically was very eye-opening. I tried to hold on to each feeling as long as I could but eventually it just went away, no matter how hard I tried. I feel empowered by this knowledge and it has helped me in the practice of non-attachment (aparigraha or vairagya in hippie Sanskrit yogi terms).
The fun part is that I am in the middle of this process and that I am living life! I’m going through this seemingly tough time working my way through an “incurable” illness. (I put incurable in quotes because I refuse to believe it, despite the Mayo clinic’s warning.) But in the meantime, I am becoming a more whole, assertive, loving version of myself. I think I’ve been pretty darn excellent in how I treat other people in my life. I’m trying to allow myself the opportunity to apply that same kindness to me. I am allowed to be me and to be happy. I know that my purpose in life is to help others. I’ve known that for a long time. What I didn’t fully understand is something I’d heard a million times, I just didn’t absorb and accept it: in order to truly and effectively help others, I have to accept myself. Which means having moments of pure, unadulterated joy. Having moments of complete, utter sadness. Knowing that giving in and giving up are two completely different concepts. Realizing that I am unique and special, and that is okay. Just like this poster.
None of this makes me “better” than the person who is homeless in the streets, it just makes me different. (sidenote: I know nothing about this anonymous street person or their journey….why was I feeling bad about them when they could be having a completely normal or even great day?)
That “thing” that seemed out of reach just a few weeks ago when I wrote the post on my patient history is coming into focus and I am happy about that. I am striving to set myself up for success by being honest with myself and doing what is right so I can function at an optimal level. It is only from a place of love and acceptance that I can fully help others. It’s the patience part that is hard now. :)
Well. That was a load off. I’m going to go process now.
ON A LIGHTER NOTE
I was having an urge for baked goods (my kryptonite) so I made some muffins last night that turned out to be delicious! I did use a 3/4 cup of flour (ahh!) but they were still super clean and tasty. Not super sweet which was what I was going for, so you can add honey once you are eating them if you want. Here’s the recipe if you want to try them out:
Carrot-banana-walnut-raisin Muffins adapted from the “Coffee & Quinoa” blog
¾ cup flour of your choice (almond or 100% whole wheat would be my suggestion)
¾ cup ground flaxseed
¾ cup rolled oats
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp clove
2 ripe to overripe bananas
1/3 cup canned pumpkin
¼ cup maple syrup
¼ cup applesauce
2 medium-sized carrots, grated
½ cup walnuts (I just smashed them with my hands, you don’t want them too small)
some raisins to taste…..I didn’t measure them!
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients (flour, oats, flaxseed meal, baking soda and spices).
In another bowl, mash the bananas (with a fork is fine). Add the pumpkin, maple syrup and applesauce and stir until combined.
Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and stir to combine. I added in a little bit of water here, not much. Gently mix in the grated carrots, walnuts and raisins.
Place muffin cups in tin and fill 90% of the way full with batter. Bake for about 25 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven and serve warm. Tasty!