Is there really such a thing as work/life balance? I don’t know. What I do know is that a balance is usually between two things that are quite different to each other. Some would have it that it’s a balance between opposites. If that was the case, then we should rename work/life balance the death/life balance. But that hardly seems palatable does it? Or is it closer to the truth than we care to realise?
Either way, my contention with the term work/life balance is that is assumes a division between work and life. When in fact, work is part of life. Rich or poor, sick or healthy there are things we have to do. Some choose to treat work as a chore, others an escape, most as a necessity, a responsibility, a ‘fact of life’ and very few see it as service (in the true sense of the word). So, work/life balance as a concept, is fundamentally flawed.
I propose a new term for this enigma we call work/life balance and I fully intend to simplify it. This concept is not new and it’s certainly not new to a yoga practice. This term is ‘balance’. Now, this balance is not just between the things we like to do and the things we don’t like to do. It is an internal state. I’m not talking about the enlightened state that only few humans ever experience. Personally, I’m more inclined towards the middle way. That’s just the thing, even if you divided up the exact amount of waking hours in your life and neatly divided them into working and not working is that balance? What about the person who works 3 days a week but can’t stop thinking about how many emails await them when they return or what that person said to them and how they need to tell the boss it needs attention or planning how to get the kids to school on time and the list goes on. Or how about the person who works 7 days a week, happy in what they do (and happy in themselves) and would have it no other way.
We need to think about what is important and face up to the brutal fact that we may not be happy in our day jobs no matter how many hours we spend doing them. That internal itch, that restlessness, niggling dissatisfaction will not always improve with less hours in the working column. Can there be a more gracious approach to life where there is integration internally and balance is judged by the internal scales rather than the hours in each column or the dollars in the bank? Is this possible? The answer lies in how honest we choose to be with ourselves. How close to our real truth we dare to live. It’s not some pie in the sky, moonbeam theory. This is life we are talking about! It’s serious because in light of all the contemporary drama and pressures we face, it’s never been more important to keep check with our deepest selves lest we lose our minds and hearts to the balancing of the hours or the bank statement.
So, in choosing balance, know that balance by nature is not a single point. It’s a constant negotiation between points. That’s why it’s hard, it changes all the time. Which is precisely why trying to balance work against life is doomed to fail time and time again. There are so many things in our lives which we are involved in. Let’s be fully present in all of them, happy to be wherever it is we are and if we are not internally balanced, at ease or fulfilled then be brave enough to make the change and resurrect the balance.
Abby Ward’s journey has included many different teachers and styles of yoga all over the world. She completed a Bachelor of Health Science (Disability and Community Rehabilitation) at Flinders University and following this established ‘Yoga – One on One’, teaching yoga to people in Adelaide, in their homes. Abby believes that in order to fully embrace the true teachings of yoga, its many and varied styles and philosophies need to be applied in a practical way suitable each individual in modern day setting. Abby’s teaching uses the intelligent application of safe and effective movement, breathing and visualisation techniques. Teaching one on one has enabled Abby to refine yoga techniques to suit individuals and their specific needs. The result of this culmination is an atmosphere where the whole person develops their body, mind awareness in a way that is unique and life enhancing to them.