I seem to be on a self-care kick this season. Perhaps the Gods are telling me something. I don’t know. But a lot of what I have been writing comes down to this: love and caring. Love of the self, love of those around us; caring for ourselves and for those we hold dear. Along with that comes finding and re-finding the balance in our lives.
If there is one thing I have learned it is that I need balance in my life. Plenty of rest, good and healthy food, entertainment, and to keep busy doing something. Balancing all of that with just having fun, indulging in my own pleasures, and doing what I want when I want.
That’s one kind of balance. But the kind of balance that I am going to talk about in this posting is the balance between the mundane and the spiritual. As activists, we often feel that our activism is a part of our spirituality. Whether we are fighting for racial equality, marriage equality, voter rights, religious tolerance, or any other number of things. Balancing what we feel a calling to do with our regular “9 to 5” life is not always easy. Some of us are blessed that our activism is our “9 to 5”, but those are few.
This balancing act takes skill and practice. It is not something that we are born with. We have to work hard to learn to balance our mundane lives with our activism and spirituality. Being “merely” spiritual can be much easier than being an activist in our spirituality. Going out and “practicing what we preach” can often times put a real burden on our personal lives. It can, and often does, take time away from our family, our friends, even our ability to work efficiently at our bills-paying-job. It can be a real stress on our health, as well.
I’ll use myself as an example here: I work 40+ hours a week to pay the bills, I have a calling to teach and share my knowledge with others. I can’t fulfill my calling while at work. It just doesn’t work. I can talk about my calling, to an extent, with my customers. But I cannot actively teach and share with them. Instead I spend a good portion of my free time on the net and on the radio sharing and teaching. That adds another 20 hours or more a week to my busy-ness. It is not just busy-ness, though. When I am on the air I am in sacred space. I have created a space in my home or in the studio where I am at peace and one with those who are listening (whether I actually know them or not). Every Sunday I spend four hours in this sacred space, plus another hour in a purely activist role.
What kind of impact does this have on my social and spiritual life? Until recently I had nothing that could be called a social life. I’d eat, sleep, and defecate work. Somewhere in all of that work I would find time to do the spiritual and activist thing, even if that meant sacrificing sleep. The instances of me going out with friends were so few and far between that when I would call a friend up for coffee or drop in to visit they were amazed and often said something to the effect of “you are alive!?” Now that my bills-paying-job has shifted into something that gives me more control over my time, I am able to be with people, to socialize. I am now able to do some of the things that I feel a direct calling to do. Things like writing, teaching, and expanding my on-air presence. I still find myself forgetting coffee dates, movies nights, and not listening to my voice mails. Things are getting better every step of the way.
Another example: A friend of mine who is a teacher, Coven leader, and tradition founder, recently wound up in hospital with pneumonia. She had been warning everyone that she felt a “crash” coming for some months. No one would listen. She was trying to balance her career with her spiritual duties and needs and with the health and support needs of a loved one with cancer. She was devoting so much time to taking care of everything and everyone else that she was unable to attend her own needs. The Gods seemed to have decreed that she MUST face her own physical being and deal with everything by forcing her to rest and to focus on herself for a while. I suppose you could say that she was burning the candle at both ends and in the middle. I am very glad that she listened to her body and to the Gods and sought the medical help she needed. (Check back for more on this in my next article “Come Together”.)
I don’t want to wind up in that kind of situation. I’ve nearly done so several times. I wrote about that in December when I did my back in for the umpteenth time. Instead I would like to continue on my quest for that balance between the mundane and the spiritual (or activist) aspects of my life.
How would one go about finding that balance? Not an easy question to answer for it varies from person to person. Sometimes greatly. What I am doing to find that balance is learning to pay attention to what my body, my mind, and my soul/spirit is telling me. If I feel hungry, I eat. If I feel tired, I sleep. If I feel depressed, I do something to counter that (clinical depression is something entirely different and I will not be talking about that here). All of these are things that I can’t really do while at the bills-paying-job; I can’t take a nap in the middle of my shift! But I can address these physical needs while I am at home or while doing my calling.
I can also take the time to evaluate what I can and cannot do; to look at what I am being asked to do by others and what I need to do for myself. (Sound self? Bare with me here.) There was a time where I would often find myself double or even triple booked. I was trying to cram everything into one or two days a week so that I could be more productive – only to find that I was having to cancel at least one thing every week in order to do something else I had committed to doing. This usually led to someone having hurt feelings or neglected needs. Often times it was my needs that were being neglected.
The Balance Within
In order to properly balance your mundane activities with your spiritual life you should first find that balance within yourself. Through mindful meditation, conscious thought, and really looking at your life and where you are right now. Do you find yourself getting tired and weary during your work-a-day life? Perhaps you aren’t getting enough sleep, exercise, and healthy food. Do you find that you just don’t have the desire to go to a group ritual or stand the picket line at a demonstration? Perhaps you aren’t spending enough time in your own spiritual skin.
- Take the time to evaluate what you are doing right in your daily life
- Take the time to evaluate what you are doing wrong in your daily life
- Spend a little bit of time each day focusing on yourself
- meditate – try to do this at the same time each day
- exercise – take a walk around the block or down to the end of the road
- eat a balanced (there’s that word again!) diet
- Establish a regular sleep pattern – turn off the social media!
- Do something fun each day
The above are just a few suggestions on finding the balance within. Most importantly, you need to spend time with yourself. Turning off the TV, social media, and even the cell phone is a good way to make sure that you are spending time with yourself. Don’t forget to spend time with your friends and family!
Our support networks are often built around the people who mean the most to us. Our family and our friends. Being able to go to a loved one with an issue that arises, either at work or in our spiritual lives, is very important to our sanity. Having someone who truly understands is an added bonus, but even a loved one who isn’t in the same kind of role in the community as you can be a good ear or a shoulder to cry on. I’m blessed that I have many friends and a few family members that I can count on as part of my support network.
Our friends and family are much more than a support network. They are also our life-line to what is most important in our lives. Love. I enjoy being able to sit down with a friend and just talk about nothing. I love spending time with my mother or my brother and just hanging out – no obligations, no expectations. Being able to spend time with someone and talk about work or my calling is a welcome relief sometimes. I also love the fact that many of my loved ones do understand where I am coming from when I need to vent about something from work or wax poetic about plans for the future of my small niche of the Pagan community.
Along with all the time that we spend with our bills-paying-jobs, our calling, our activism, our friends and family, we need to spend some time with the Divine. Assuming that many (if not most) who read this page are some form of deists, we have already established some kind of a relationship with the Divine. Whether we call the Divine Lord and Lady, simply God or Goddess, or by a specific name or group of names, we have some kind of divine relationship. Spending some time each week, if not daily, with building and strengthening that relationship can be a great asset to finding that inner balance that many of us are lacking. Even the greatest minds in the Pagan and spiritual worlds have to spend regular time with their Divine to maintain a sense of balance. We can so easily get bogged down in the day-to-day, in the troubles and woes of relationships with people, that we can forget that the Divine spark (to use a phrase) is within us all. When we neglect that connection with the Divine we are neglecting a portion of ourselves and of those that we hold most dear.
When it is all said and done, finding and re-finding the balance can be as simple as going outside, taking a walk, petting a dog, or smelling a flower; reconnecting with what is real. Reaching out to friends and stepping outside your ivory tower can be essential to the balancing act. Don’t neglect what is going on around you in the here and now while you are busy with the work-a-day life and your activism. Find that balance, hold on to it, and don’t let it go. If it slips through your fingers, find it again and embrace it.