Balance Amid Busy

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As I’m rushing out to the grocery store at 9 PM on a Monday, my 11 year-old, up in his bed, has big ‘ol tears in his eyes, a rare-ish phenomenon these days. We have barely seen each other for four days (I was working), and he looks so forlorn that I almost sob. I immediately invite him along. He happily hops down and off we go on our post-bedtime adventure.

To think that my son needed time with me that much (he tends to politely decline grocery shopping) makes me quake in my boots. He talked nonstop for the entire trip. I always want to be there for him, but with the baby, the working, the house that wants to be cleaned and the meals that need a cookin’ – it has been easy to neglect time with the big guy.

It’s so easy to get caught up in life and miss the stuff that we value, like quiet time or time with our kids.

When I think about balance, the best answer I can come up with is routine.

To feel our best, perform our best, and shine, we have to make decisions about how we will spend our time. After work, after the kids are in bed, choices must be made. If the decision is made in advance, say to take a long bath instead of re-watching Parks and Rec, it’s easier to follow through. We go to bed relaxed and sleep better than usual. The next morning, we decide to do five minutes of yoga and a quick walk around the block. We get back in time to have a cup of coffee before the rest of the house wakes up. The quiet time allows our mind to relax and we suddenly think of the answer to a life conundrum we are having. As we start to reap these rewards, we’ll want to keep up our healthy behaviors. Finally, a routine, or habit, is made, one that was consciously chosen to enhance our well-being and health.

When our bodies and minds have a routine, we know what to expect. This is very calming for us. Below you will find the ideal routine – which I can’t follow exactly due to my specific life circumstances. But the routine can be easily modified (and shortened) to fit into a busy life.

When we plan a routine, it’s important to plan times for just sitting around (especially vatas and pittas).

Write out a schedule for the morning, as having a routine (called a Sadhana) in the morning will set you up for a day! Amazing things can happen.

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Judith Morrison, a graduate of the Ayurvedic Institute in New Mexico says: “Ask yourself whether your commitments, habits, and preferences are benefiting or disturbing your doshic balance”. She recommends thinking about your daily routine and arranging it as needed. And Ms. Morrison gives us a bit of encouragement: “…the accumulated benefits of small changes can make a noticeable difference to you”. So we don’t have to get up at 3 AM to stand on our heads for 2 hours. We can make a few changes at a time and gently shape a routine.

To get these self-care practices in, we may need to do some planning. My kitchen has a dry erase calendar that I spazzily write out every month. Say what you will, but it keeps us on target and not late. I’m pleasantly surprised to report that my guys also look at the calendar (and my son sweetly wrote my birthday in; sob). Oh how much trouble this has saved us! This kind of stuff facilitates me getting that yoga session in or allows time to plan what to cook for dinner.

Ideal Daily Routine for All Doshas

  • Go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every day. Ayurveda recommends 10 PM – 6 AM.
  • Meditate
  • Scrape tongue – an easy way to get rid of accumulated toxins
  • Drink a mug of hot lemon water
  • Exercise according to dosha type
  • Warm oil massage, then bath or shower (careful: oil is slippery) – more to come on oil massage (abyhanga)
  • Eat breakfast
  • Go about your day
  • Big lunch
  • 1/2 hour-1 hour nap, meditation or rest time
  • Try to fit in a hobby or passion for a few minutes – reading, writing, singing, dancing – whatever activity makes you feel in “flow”
  • Go about your day; may squeeze in exercise here or fun activity
  • Light Dinner
  • Oil massage and bath if not done in AM (or again, if you have the time)
  • Quiet, screen-free activity
  • Drink a mug of hot milk with a pinch of cardamom
  • Bed in uncluttered bedroom with no screens

The most important thing is to devise a routine, not to do ALL of the activities listed above.

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List seem like a monk’s life? Pick and choose what you can reasonably do. If you implement a couple of the things, you may be able to snowball into doing a whole lot of the things. Once you get going, much of the stuff just takes a few minutes. It’s important to both cultivate a regular routine and also not get too rigid or stressed about it. Be fluid.

My schedule does not allow me to do all of the above, such as going to bed at 10 PM, seeing as I get home from work at midnight. But I do the best that I can and have mapped out my schedule accordingly. One thing my husband and I do is strategically plan sleep. He sleeps early in the evening and then gets up early with the baby. I work until late and then sleep in. We do our best to coordinate schedules so everyone gets what they need. The way we all tweak our routines will depend on our specific situations.

The doshas all correlate to certain times of the day, certain times of life, and the different seasons. Kapha in childhood, pitta in the productive adult years, and vata in later life. Kapha in Spring, Pitta in Summer, Vata in Fall.

2:00-6:00 AM: Vata

6:00-10:00 AM: Kapha

10:00 AM-2:00 PM: Pitta

2:00-6:00 PM: Vata

6:00-10:00 PM: Kapha

10:00 PM-2:00 AM: Pitta

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Those sweet tears are the price I paid for not having more balance in my life. Too high. If I take excellent care of myself and stick to my routine, these episodes seem to fade away and the train just runs more smoothly. That’s why I seek to balance out my life. #priorities

References Etc.

Author Gretchen Rubin has lots of data, ideas and recommendations for setting yourself up with whatever habits are prudent for you (her book Better Than Before is about habits; very helpful)

Tongue Scraper on 2 for $8.99 on Amazon:

Morrison, Judith (1995). The Book of Ayurveda: A Holistic Approach to Health and Longevity (Gaia Books Limited).

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