Creating the Gift of a Balanced Life Through the Art of Meditation
“Balance is the key to everything. What we do, think, say, eat, feel, they all require awareness, and through awareness we can grow.” — Koi Fresco
Unbeknownst to me at the time, balance has always been a fundamental aspect of my state of being. The first time I came to learn this about myself was during a summer kids’ karate class; I couldn’t have been more than six or seven years old. Our teacher proposed a ‘fun’ competition to see who could do the most high-kicks in a row using their dominant leg. Once it was over, I didn’t care in the moment who won or that I didn’t win (if you know me personally, you’ll know this is never happens when I compete), but I only was concerned with doing the exact same exercise on my other side, using my left leg. Despite not possessing enough strength in my non-dominant leg to achieve even half as many kicks as my right, I remember feeling unbalanced for the rest of the day. While walking home with my big brother, my gait was different. Although I didn’t look like I was walking differently, I felt an odd sensation in my bones. I never expected the truth in this story to hold relevance in my life for years to come, but it did. Some of my close friends have teased me about it in the past — like if I am blessed with a kiss on my cheek and I’m comfortable enough with you, I’ll politely ask you to kiss me on my other cheek as well, so I could feel balanced. It may sound ridiculous or comical, and for a long time I saw it that way too, but now I can see how much sense it makes.
When we are out of balance, it’s very possible that everything in our life feels off. Sometimes, we may not even be aware of it, because it slowly became our norm. However, I believe the misalignment within ourselves can manifest in other areas to act as a signal for us to change something; as a sign to realign our life path with our intended purpose.
The practice of meditation helps me achieve a balanced state of being every day. I understand it as an act of replenishing and resourcing the energy within myself. We use so much of our precious energy throughout each day; when we are at work, when we’re with our friends, with our family, and even just being at home. Don’t get me wrong, I am happy to use my energy daily, that’s what it’s here for, in order to use – but it is still depletion, and depletion requires refilling; a recharge. By connecting or reconnecting to my breath, I am able to connect my body with my soul — which I view as the ultimate source of our energy — and I remember what it feels like to be, simply be. It’s an invaluable skill to attain, and so much easier than many of us think. I will be honest, though, my first attempt at meditation was a real struggle for me. I couldn’t stop my mind from racing, which made it difficult for me to sit still, to the point where I’d just get frustrated and give up. I turned to yoga as my meditation as an alternative, and it was a perfect place for me to start. By focusing on the movement and placement of my body, while also maintaining full breath cycles, my mind was automatically put at ease and it eventually became a sacred part of my routine. My yoga practice was the only time in my day that I set aside for me and me alone; to unwind, step back from my to-do list, and spend some quality me-time. When I started viewing from that perspective, it was like riding a bike — effortless and freeing.
By reminding ourselves to breathe and bringing our attention only to our breath, everything becomes more possible; everything is seen as attainable. The sound of your breath has the power to soothe your body’s natural reactions to life by remaining calm and collected, giving us the ability to think clearly. We cut off our air circulation by holding our breath all the time, sometimes we’re not even aware when we’re doing it, and we put our bodies under stress by literally cutting the oxygen flow to our brains, forcing ourselves to work harder to think about what we need to do next. The best thing about meditation is that it’s a skill, in which the more you practice, the easier it will become. The more you are able to sit down with yourself and quiet your thoughts by putting them on pause, tune into your breath, deepen it, really feel it flowing through your entire body, the more you’ll remember to do it throughout the day. It’ll slowly become available to you during times of need each day.
Having the ability to meditate during every single moment is what I’m in the process of trying to master. To me, this basically means remaining absolutely present within the exact moment I am currently in. Whenever I notice that I’m not fully present, I find the sound of my breath — the song of my soul — and continue listening to it. Some even say the breath actually is the soul, since our breath is our life force. When I remember to listen to my breath, I remember what it means to be a being living within a body; not a mind that is in control of a body.
In other words, conscious breathing allows us to remain in a state of ease by having the ability to go with the flow, and be led instead of taking the lead. Meditation reminds us to trust that things will be okay and that we already have the tools we need to accomplish anything. It all comes effortlessly when we remain in sync with our breath. Try to keep it at the centre of everything you do. The breath always comes first — it’s the primary rule of yoga — never compromise your breath for any pose. Now, I’ll take it a step further and suggest we never compromise our breath for any situation, any person, any thing; always remember to breathe deeply. If you’re finding it difficult or that you’re not able breathe smoothly under a particular circumstance, then it’s probably your body’s sign telling you it isn't the right thing for you in that moment.
How do you choose to meditate and how often do you practice? Do you have any tips or tricks for someone who’s looking to give it a shot for the first time? Share your thoughts in the comments below for all the AfroMoksha readers!