Do you long to bring greater balance and meaning into your life?
For more than thirty years, I’ve coached thousands of people internationally. And over the years, I’ve found that it really didn’t matter whether my audience consisted of corporate executives, homemakers, physicians, artists—whatever the occupation—people said the same thing. Their lives were overloaded with work and personal responsibilities and they were just playing catch up every day.
Some people felt that their lives were an exhausting effort to maintain safety and security.
And they tried to make the “right” choices so that they could be in control of their days, only to find that control is just an illusion. The reality is that we’re never really “in control” of anything.
You see, no matter how hard they worked at it, how many measures they put in place, how many times they second guessed what might happen, they found they couldn’t really control what was happening in their world.
They worked in part to have health insurance and found that their work itself affected the very quality of their health.
So, really, what I’ve found in my coaching is that most people are looking for some kind of inspiration and understanding that will lead them to create a more meaningful, balanced life.
I’d like to share a true personal story which I’ve referred to over the years as the “Hamster on the Wheel” story! When my children were young, they were staying overnight at my parents’ house. They had a pet hamster that they loved and fed every day, and there was a little wheel in the cage for the hamster to exercise on.
On this fateful Saturday morning, the kids were gone, I woke up, and lo and behold, our poor little hamster, who was only 2 weeks old, had died.
I called the pet shop, and told them what had happened, and they said reassuringly: “Oh, I’m so sorry. But that happens. Sometimes the hamster forgets to get off the wheel, keeps going without stopping, and has a heart attack. Just bring it in and we’ll give you another one.”
Now—you could not have given me a better analogy for my life at that time. Because I was the proverbial hamster on the wheel. I was working fifty-hour weeks, writing a book, parenting my children, and generally just trying to survive my life.
And we all do this: We get on the wheel of life, move rapidly, and sometimes forget to get off and rest, or forget to decide what’s important and what’s not. We burn ourselves out.
So how do we course correct, gain greater understanding, and change our lives into something worth living?
Here are a few tips:
First, pay attention to what you’re saying YES and NO to. If your heart’s not in it, you’re not either. I’ve certainly found that out.
Second, take a break and gain a little perspective. Fast forward to your 80th birthday. Imagine that you can look back over your life at that point. What would you have wished was your life?
Third, does your life reflect the best version of you? Is what you’re doing, your greatest contribution? You see it doesn’t matter whether you’re president of your company or doing a job of manual labor, you have to ask yourself: Is your heart in it and are you doing it well? Is it a contribution that you’re proud of?
And while each of us didn’t come into this world to be Moses, Gandhi, or some great figure, we did come in to be the best version of ourselves.
So, our freedom lies in going backstage in this Life play, challenging the thought that our dramas are pre-recorded, having the courage to challenge our thinking and to rewrite our scripts, and in general, through these new thoughts and more consciously intended actions– to bring new and better experiences into our lives.
Many people express an interest in meditation but feel they don’t have enough time. Some say that finding 20 minutes to do “nothing” is not possible in their daily life. Meditating is far from “doing nothing”; when you center your mind and release anxiety, you bring restoration and balance to your whole system. In fact, research shows that meditation:
1. Enhances the immune system.
2. Lowers and/or stabilizes blood pressure.
3. Slows the aging process.
4. Improves learning ability and memory.
5. Develops your willpower.
6. Decreases restless thinking.
7. Brings your body, mind, and spirit into harmony.
You do have to find time to meditate. You should choose a time of day when you are least distracted and are able to be calm. You might want to start with a 5-minute meditation and try different lengths of time as you explore the process.
Also, decide on a comfortable posture. While most teachers suggest sitting positions, I have always found my best meditations occur when I lie down, and surprisingly, I do not fall asleep. Try different postures to find what works best for you.
If you are seated, you might try staring at an icon (religious figure, candle, etc.), and in doing so, allowing yourself to “empty” your mind. If you are lying down, you can stare at the ceiling.
Be patient with yourself, so if many thoughts come racing through your head, simply allow them to clear. You may wish to focus on one word (such as “love”) to center yourself.
You can also practice the simple technique that I call “stopping.” Simply sit for five minutes each day and allow your body to rest. Take a few deep breaths and be still. In that moment, be with whatever comes up, and let your mind slow down until your body, mind, and spirit feel in greater harmony.