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Volume 9 Issue 5
Jan/Feb 2004

Living in Balance
The Art of Taking Care of Oneself

Let's Eat Pumpkin

Ayurveda – The Science of Life An Ancient Medicine

Jin Shin Jyutsu
A Journey Toward Self-Knowledge and Harmony

Your Inner Voice is a Key to Career Planning


Living in Balance
The Art of Taking Care of Oneself
Linda Brooks
by Gwen Nyhus Stewart

Benjamin Franklin wrote: "If you want to enjoy one of the greatest luxuries in life, the luxury of having enough time, time to rest, time to think things through, time to get things done and know you have done them to the best of your ability, remember, there is only one way. Take enough time to think and plan things in the order of their importance. Your life will take on a new zest, you will add years to your life, and more life to your years. Let all your things have their place."

When you read Franklin's words, what do they mean to you? Do you have enough time to balance your personal needs with your commitment to the outside world? Is stress causing havoc in your life? What exactly does it mean to have your life in balance and how do you achieve it?

Balance is defined as: stability of mind and body; a state of being in balance; and harmony in the parts of a whole. The Chinese art of Feng Shui describes balance as being comprised of Yin and Yang energy. Yin is the calming and peace-giving energy and Yang is the action-oriented dynamic force. Yin energy engages receptivity and allows rest, rejuvenation, healing, dreaming, and acceptance. The fire energy, Yang, makes achievement of dreams a reality and creates success. Feng Shui believes every "whole" person requires balance in his or her life force energy.

The key to creating "wholeness" is learning that we must take care of ourselves in order to be able to give what we want to give, in our roles as parent, spouse, employee, etc. When we do not take care of ourselves, we end up either sick and/or feeling burned out. In fact, the body and mind will make us take the time if we will not do it for ourselves. Emotional and physical health requires taking responsibility for our own well-being.

Most of us have the fantasy that somebody will come along and give us permission to rest and relax, and we continue to put this physical need off until we are ill. After learning that there is not going to be anyone who will do this for us, we realise that the only one who is going to take care of us is, in fact, our self. Once this is recognised, the emotional and physical healing of self can begin. (I don't know about you but I am a slow learner. It took me a long time to learn this. In fact, I still get a wake-up call every once in awhile when I choose to get sick rather than rest and take a break.)

We need to allow time each day in order to take care of ourselves. When we do take time, be sure to leave the guilt and thoughts such as, "I should be doing …", outside the door. Instead, recognise that we deserve a few minutes of time for self and that we will be able to function better afterwards. Enjoy that time.

Time Management and Creating Balance

Time is defined as a period during which an action, process, or condition exists or continues; and management is defined as the act or art of managing. Time management is nothing more than the art of managing an action. In other words, the management of time is management of self and setting priorities for self. It is the conscious selection of where we will place our attention.

Reasons for Managing Time

• Time is not a renewable resource. When it is gone, it is gone forever.
• Everyone has the same amount of time.
• The creative thought that emerges from balanced lives and from the joy of our leisure time is what makes the difference in our level of creativity and productivity.
• Take time for silence. Silence and solitude are opportunities for thinking and for simply being.
• The best thing you can do to enhance your value at work is to take care of yourself.
• Time management provides structure to one's life and in turn, provides peace of mind.
• Time management is something one does for one's own psyche to make one's days easier.

Time Management and Creating Balance at Home

1. Determine what's important to you and in what order. Prioritize to get the important things done by putting "first things first."
2. Set goals and strive towards a sense of purpose and fulfillment.
3. Get organized and manage your time with a daily or weekly schedule.
4. Recognize your limits and have realistic expectations for yourself. You do not have to be "super person."
5. Reward yourself.
6. Keep things in perspective. Say to yourself, "This, too, shall pass."
7. Exercise and eat nutritional foods.
8. Think happy, as life seems to be easier when you smile. Use humour and find a way to laugh at the situation.
9. Be honest with yourself and others.
10. Say, "No," to the "should's," and "Yes," to the "wants" in your life.

Time Management and Creating Balance at Work

1. Make sure your work life is a meaningful expression of your life purpose.
2. Decide to do it. Set up a TO DO list, prioritise As, Bs, and Cs. Do As first.
3. Planning – take 5 minutes at the end of the day to clean up your space and get organized for the next day's work.
4. If you have a problem, just before you go to sleep turn it over to your subconscious – your mind will work on it as you sleep and you will have an answer the next day.
5. DO IT NOW. Procrastination is when one says, "I'll do it later."
6. Do not schedule early morning appointments that will disrupt your morning routine.
7. Say, "NO," to every "new" request for your time for the next month (saying NO to every request will minimise your guilt).
8. Think about it before you say, "yes." Instead, say, "I'll get back to you." Some of us are compulsive "yes-sayers" when we are asked to do something; taking a few minutes to think about whether we have the time, energy, or desire to perform this request requires that we have a moment to check in with ourselves.
9. Give yourself a break. People are more productive when they take a few minutes away every couple of hours.
10. Don't let other people's "hurry sickness" dictate your life.

Remember: There is no such thing as a lack of time. There is nothing more important in your life than your time. Mahatma Gandhi wrote, "There is more to life than merely increasing its speed." In other words, the fundamental question is: "How much of my life-force energy does this cost?"

(This article is excerpted from Gwen Nyhus Stewart's new book, The Healing Garden: A Place Of Peace.)

Gwen Nyhus Stewart is the author of the newly released book, The Healing Garden: A Place Of Peace. She is a Master Gardener, Horticultural Therapist, Social Worker, educator, and author who resides in Regina. She develops and delivers seminars and workshops and is a management consultant for the non-profit sector. She is a free-lance writer for a variety of magazines and garden columns, a garden consultant, and designs sacred spaces and healing gardens. You may contact Gwen at (306) 586-6898 or email: gwenshealinggarden@accesscomm.ca.

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