Today is September 22, 2016 – the Autumnal Equinox. This is one day in the year (the other being Spring Equinox in March) when the hours of daylight and the hours of darkness are almost equal. I like to think of this day as a good day to examine balance in my own life, and invite you to consider the same.
1. Darkness and Light – here are a couple ways to look at this issue in our lives: Where am I sinking down into the rich soil (darkness) to be still and germinate seeds of creativity as we move into winter, and where am I stretching up into the still warm sunlight of fall with bright growth? Another way of considering this is to literally look into how much I pay attention to things in my own shadow (as Jung would say) – in the unconscious or unaware parts of myself that are always in the darkness cast by the sunlight? The yin/yang symbol from Chinese philosophy – literally meaning “dark” and “bright” is something to ponder: where is light inside your darkness, and where is darkness inside your light? Do you allow yourself to accept both the darkness and the light currently in your life, without feeling life must be all one or all the other?
2. Work/Life Balance – whether or not you are working in a paid job, or retired, or a student – we all have work we do. It is very countercultural to balance work and life. American culture often encourages people whose scale sinks much more heavily on work to feel good about themselves and to advance in a career. Yet at the end of our lives, most of us will not be considering how hard we worked or how much money we made (or didn’t); we will be focused on those we love and how rich those relationships are, and how much we feel we truly lived our lives. How are you valuing your work? And how are you valuing your relationships, and your life’s purpose? How much authentic attention are you paying to each?
3. Death and Life – while we might literally look at being present with our own death, I’m thinking more of the constant cycle of endings and beginnings in any life. I have a 16-year-old cat who is in his dying process, and the other day I got so angry with him when he hid under the bed instead of coming out to take his pain medicine. Then I realized I was really sad under my disguise of anger, and having difficulty being present with the end of his life, and his own way of dealing with it. I recently ended one career and began focusing full-time on another. That process has not been neat and tidy, and I am still working on literal balance – sometimes I feel dizzy with the balance of these endings and beginnings. I have several clients working through the end of relationships and the beginning of a new life as a single person. Where are you in the cycles of your life? Fall is a time that invites us to pay attention to the falling of the leaves, the dying of our flowers, and the turning within, to a holding or hibernating time. Are you in tune with the death and life of this season?
There are many other types of balance we might discuss, and I hope you add your musings about balance in your life in response to this blog post.