Advent - A Season for Balance

This week, my yoga teacher asked us if the holidays had a way of throwing us off balance. At first I shook my head nodding no - and then quickly caught myself, because if truth be told, I have been out of sorts and dealing with some issues on the personal and physical front.

The whole sequence of poses steered us - not only in the direction of attaining greater balance - but urged us to simply accept where we were, when we experienced ourselves as out of balance, in a non-judgmental way. My teacher, who is perhaps the most enthusiastic person I have encountered in my life, urged us to banish our inner self-critic - and send him or her packing indefinitely to the local watering hole! I loved that image!

I had no idea how timely this class would be...

Instead of succumbing to unbalance, my teacher reminded us, that tuning into the breath, and availing ourselves of all the skills that our yoga and meditation practices offered us, could help bring about this elusive state itself. We had incredible tools at our disposal.

I thought about this on my drive home, as I mentally re-constructed the sequence of poses. I sat for my afternoon meditation practice, and the rest of the day passed uneventfully.

Then came Friday. Most of the day transpired peacefully. There were ample moments and times to visit the river, which was swollen almost out of its banks due to the recent rains. I said my morning Advent prayers there. I came home, had a longer meditation, and later went for a long walk.

In the afternoon, my new washer and dryer were delivered. But alas, the washer was damaged irreparably, so with great disappointment, I scheduled another date, and asked the workers to hook up my appliances once again so I could get started on the laundry.

As I worked in my office, a stone's throw from where the washer and dryer are kept, I sensed that something wasn't quite right. The flow of the water sounded different. I walked out into the hallway to massive quantities of water spilling out from under the washer, soaking into the carpet, and everywhere else. The water seeped through flooring, the ceiling and walls, and cascaded down onto my new hardwood floors in the kitchen and dining room!

I panicked. Then turned the water off - gathered every towel in sight - my heart pounding all throughout. And no, I wasn't breathing! I called the company that made the delivery, and the workers returned, penitent beyond belief, and cleaned everything up as best as they could, not leaving until everything was back in working order. One of the workers pleaded with me not to file a claim because his pay would be docked. I was very sympathetic to him, imaging that he would not be able to handle his Christmas bills.

Oh, and did I mention I also managed to burn the stew I was cooking for dinner?

I recalled my teacher telling us how sometimes you receive news - or something happens that you can't do anything about - that is totally out of your control. But, tuning into the breath and relying on our practice can help bring us back into balance. Somehow, I managed to forget all of her words of wisdom and insights, and allowed my inner critic to come back from the watering hole I had banished her to!

I did eventually settle down and took stock of the situation and my reactions, and asked myself, what is this experience, in light of the plight a dear friend of mine is undergoing, battling stage 4 cancer, and all that such a struggle implies?

So many things can knock us out of balance - constantly. They can be small things, or big things. I had the insight this morning in meditation, that we need to observe the events of our lives with dispassion and detachment.

Friday, when I stood on the cliff and surveyed the swollen river, I thought of the trees, firmly anchored along the river banks. They have seen seasons of every kind. They have survived drought, and floods, brutal winters, and stunning spring times, pretty much unscathed. Yes, they may lose limbs, and grow taller, and even wither, but many still remain, as stalwart reminders of our eternal souls that do not change - even when everything else around us does.

I watched the river moving downstream, waves passing me by, just as I should be observing all the events of my life. This Advent, I remind myself to stay in balance and seek it out, and to remember that all things shall pass, just like the river current making its way downstream.

I also recall words from Yogananda reminding us to place all of our heart's and mind's attention on God:

"First learn to love Him and know Him.
Then it won't matter what you do,
for He will never leave your thoughts."

When you are out of balance, seek the One who Dwells within you as You. Everything else, is just a wave on a river floating downstream...

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