Create your balance. Design your life.

Finding Balance Between Opposite Extremes

Finding Balance Between Opposite Extremes

Aug 29, 2015

Sometimes it seems like every article I write becomes about opposite extremes, and finding balance. I’m beginning to realize that might be because this pattern shows up a lot for me in life… plus this website is about work, and life, and balance. Today, I’m going to talk about how finding balance between opposite extremes relates to the Darwinian concept of the Middle Road, and the Buddhist idea of the Middle Path, or Middle Way, and how that approach can be applied to life and to health, for growth and success. For the philosphers among you, Aristotle’s Golden Mean and Confucious’ Doctrine of the Mean are right up along this alley as well. What got me thinking about all this was a noticing that I often see with clients, and in the health and wellness industry in general, an oscillation between states or practices of deprivation, and states or practices of excess, or hedonism. You may have experienced this yourself, if you have ever been on a very restrictive diet: you’re limiting calories, or carbs, or sugar, or foods that start with the letter T, and at some point, three hours or three days, or three weeks in, you’re standing in front of the fridge with a chicken leg in one hand, and a pint of ice cream in the other. Some of you are shaking your heads no because you’re always calculating and don’t succumb to cravings. For the rest of you, the vast majority of everyone reading this article, uncontrolled indulgence is a natural response to deprivation, and you are not alone. The idea of the Middle Road, per Darwin, came from a combination of the ideas of inductivism and eurekaism: The former suggests that the way to a breakthrough is work, work, work and practice, practice, practice, while the latter suggest that breakthroughs happen in one, spontaneous aha! moment, while dancing in your kitchen listening to techno (Darwin totally listened to techno, I just know it). So Darwin’s idea is not that neither of these approaches work, but that they both work, only not in isolation. They must be combined to be successful. The Buddhist idea of the Middle Path or...

Stop Buying Time and Start Experiencing It Instead

Stop Buying Time and Start Experiencing It Instead

Apr 17, 2015

I realized yesterday that I have been trying to buy time. Not against impending death or doom, but every minute of every day I am thinking of how I will be ‘spending’ my time, ‘filling’ my time, or working against it. This noticing came to me in the context of thinking about money, and how it has often seemed, to me, like a trade off between the two: if I want time, I have to give up money, or if I want money, I have to give up time. It occurred, then, to me, that perhaps there was another option. To let time move on of its own accord. To let the cup runneth-ing over with space, generate abundance of its own accord. In the work I’ve been creating for the past few years, I teach people how to listen to and learn from their bodies, emotions, thoughts, intuition, and from the things that are happening in their lives, both internally and externally. I’ve gotten pretty good at practicing this myself, except for this one, rather glaring oversight: I haven’t been listening to time. I’ve been trying to control, shape and berate it into doing my will. Or I’ve been ignoring it, or anxiously trying to, while in wait of shift or change or inspiration. But I definitely haven’t been listening. I’m a big fan of imagined outcomes and fantasy future, but when it comes to bringing dreams into reality, some actual action has to take place. We can “practice” being in action by doing physical activity, setting schedules or following routines, or taking something metaphysical (like an idea) and making it physical, by writing, building, cooking, or other ‘creating’ activity. Time itself involves flow, and perception, both things that are also involved in the creative process. My next step with my big ‘a ha’ idea about time is to explore a greater connection to my own internal sense of time, and my internal sense of readiness and action, rather than orienting solely to the external clock. I’ve been doing this for years, by following my energy, and following my thoughts and emotions, but I have yet to follow my rhythm. I’m going to...

10 Ways to Hit the ‘Reset’ Button

I don’t know about you, but I have, more than once in my life, wished there were a big ‘reset’ button sitting around that I could smack. Really smack it. Reset my day, my month….. I’m usually, if I really think about it, looking to reset my attitude. Today’s post is short and sweet. Here are 10 ways I’ve found to reset my “Blargh!!!!” and start anew: Go outside. In nature. Look at it and smell it. If you don’t have nature, imagine it or stick your face in a hedge, for real. Drink a glass of cold water, slowly. With your eyes closed. Nap. Pay attention to your breath for five minutes. Again, eyes closed. While we’re at it, close your eyes (eyes closed helps you to turn your attention inward and filter out the fray). Laugh. Make a friend date, or a self date, to do something fun. Notice if you are feeling overwhelmed or stuck, perhaps you have forgotten to do something, like eat. So eat, and make it healthy, with great texture. And don’t do other things while you are eating. Pick something you really want to do from your bucket list, and engage with it, by surfing the web, writing about it, or finding a photo and daydreaming. Here, you are reorienting to your ‘why’ and to your dreams. Take a day off; Take a vacation; Quit your job; Find a new one; Make. A. Change. The urge for a reset, or a time out, is usually an indication that what is happening in and around you is not in alignment with your truth, preference or authenticity. It’s a call to look, and can also be a call for change. Next time this happens to you, instead of plowing on through, take a moment to stop, look, and take action on your own behalf. This message brought to you by the committee for finding more fun and less sludge in life. No suggestion in this article is to be put into practice without a healthy dose of common sense, or is a replacement for medical advice or psychological counseling. About the author: Jen Kahn MS, RYT works with clients using...

Where Does Balance Begin?

Where Does Balance Begin?

Mar 19, 2015

A couple of months ago I posted about finding balance, and how I like the “surfing” concept of balance more than the “scales of judgment” idea. To share an inside peek into the life of Jen, I’ve been struggling with balance and time management recently in my life, and for a multitude of reasons it’s been hard to see a solution that I can really get behind. And then I saw a recent video from my friend Dr. Melissa West, founder of Namaste Yoga, about balance for beginners in yoga, and I had a real face palm moment (have you heard of “A ha!” moments? Mine are often more like “Oh, duh!” moments. For realsies). I view experience in this world in a very embodied way. Your body lives with you throughout your life, and parallels any experience you are having in your mind or emotions. Sad? Your body is too. In love? Bet you’ve got some butterflies! Your body can have a lot to say about your life situations. Likewise, things that happen to your body (like an injury, illness, or super awesome massage) can impact your thoughts and emotions as well, but that’s a post for another day. So when I’m stuck, it has never failed me, to start my exploration with body connection and exploring the topic from a physical standpoint. Are you struggling with balancing work, home, fun and relationships? Then try exploring the physical aspect of balance, and take it ‘to the mat’. This particular video offering is yoga, but it doesn’t have to be…you could ‘take it to the surfboard’ or the balance beam, or simply to standing up in your living room and shifting from one foot to the other and seeing what it takes to find ‘balance’, and paying attention to what all is happening while you’re doing all that. You can check out the (free) video here.               In the introduction page to Melissa’s video, she talks about the components of finding balance: observing, interpreting, and responding to stimuli. The same pieces apply to finding balance in life. How do you observe what’s happening around you, particularly the things in life...

Easiest Trick in the Book

Easiest Trick in the Book

Mar 12, 2015

Well, maybe not the easiest, but for me, the perfect balance of simplicity and deliciousness. What am I talking about? Shortcuts to healthy home cooking! The top struggles I hear from clients regarding homemade, healthy eating are: •It takes too long to prepare everything fresh •Not liking the way the food tastes •Feeling confused about what’s healthy for them. While this idea won’t solve all your healthy eating problems – some answers need to be discovered through trial and error, or with the guidance of a health care professional – I promise it WILL make your pursuit of healthy eating, at least some days, tastier, and easier. Are you ready? The ‘secret’ is….wait for it…. salad dressing. Yeah, you heard me: salad dressing! We think of salad dressing as something to put on lettuce. Or maybe something that comes on the side of a plate of chicken wings. Did you know that salad dressing can be used quite successfully, and easily, as: •A marinade: Marinate your meat or vegetables in Italian dressing, grill, broil bake or sautée. •A pasta “dressing”: Toss hot pasta with a nice vinaigrette. If you have loads of time on your hands, add some grape tomatoes, kalamata olives, and baby arugula or spinach. WOW. This dish can be served as a hot pasta dish, or even cold or room temperature as a pasta salad (cold will require more dressing than hot. Continue to re-dress until you get the pizzazz you want) •The basis for a sauce: Mix together an oil and vinegar and spice based dressing with some sesame, sunflower or nut butter. Throw some protein and vegetables into a pan, cook partway, then add your ‘sauce base’ and a squeeze of lemon or lime, and cook protein through. Improvise to make something sort of like a Thai saté. •An easy way to favor up steamed vegetables: Steam vegetables, and dress them. Yep, that’s it. •A jazzy addition for flavorful rice: Instead of dumping your rice and water in a pan, turn the heat on, throw the rice and some salad dressing in, and sautée of medium heat until the rice turns chalky. Turn the heat up and add your water, bring...

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