“Travel centers me,” says my sister Anitha.
We are sitting in a restaurant on the cliffs of Positano, talking about our journey from Rome. Months of planning have finally paid off and we are really here. After dinner, we start walking towards town. Suddenly, Anitha stops and looks over to her right at the Mediterranean. The cliffs around us are shaped in a strange “V”, creating a prism through which we can see the full moon light up bits of the water. Waves are crashing towards us.
“This is so beautiful,” she gasps.
Anitha is grinning and lets out a shriek of delight. Her enthusiasm is contagious. We stay there for another ten minutes; Anitha’s face is relaxed, her breathing is long and deep and she looks peaceful. On the walk back to our pension, neither of us talk and all I see is a smile on her face.
Simple things in life – like a beautiful view – can have such a positive impact on us, leaving us feeling fresh and energized. The flip side is also true. Simple things can disturb us and throw us out of balance. I consider myself a calm person; things don’t usually upset me or throw me off balance. Except when I’m hungry. Then all of a sudden people get annoying, I get irritable and occasionally snap at people. “Stop asking me to eat something, ok!” After I eat something, I feel better and say sorry.
We keep moving between this place of calm and this place of disturbance in our lives. How then do we achieve balance with this chaotic coexistence of calmness and disturbance?
What is balance anyway?
According to Ayurveda, you are in balance when your doshas are in balance. This means: 1) your natural rhythms such as sleep, hunger and bowel movements are good 2) you feel strong and have energy through the day 3) your immunity is strong and your body is in good health 4) your mind is clear and open, and 5) you feel content.
You are in balance when your body and mind are functioning properly. The body and mind are able to absorb nutrients, adapt to stress and remove waste efficiently. This does not mean that once you are balanced, you necessarily stay balanced. Becoming balanced also requires action from our side. The mind and body are highly intelligent and we can think of action as removing obstacles that impede natural functioning:
When you feel tired during the day, you can get up and take a leisurely walk for about five minutes (preferably outside).
When you have heartburn, you can reduce the amount of spicy and pungent food you eat. Added bonus: It will leave you feeling less irritable.
When you get angry because your boss has yelled at you, you can march into his office and say “Hey, you!” or you can take ten conscious, normal breaths to relieve the stress.
Our body and mind are constantly telling us what they need and our daily lives provide us with simple but powerful tools to answer those needs. The results of our actions lead to increased awareness, greater confidence in our abilities and a more peaceful and contented life.
Balance is achieved when conscious action meets the dynamic needs of the body and mind.
Travel centers Anitha. What centers you?