Imagine your life is like a child’s crib mobile. It has a center and four spokes emanating out from the center. Hanging off the end of each spoke is a piece of monofilament line that is attached to a small object or toy. When all the parts of the mobile are in place, the mobile hangs in balance.
Balance in Life
What happens when one of the objects or toys falls off or somehow gets damaged? The whole mobile gets out of whack. Oh, it will still hang over the crib, but it will have taken a different shape … cockeyed and out of sorts. Unless you fix those broken or missing pieces attached to the mobile, it will continue in that cockeyed shape and not be in balance as it should.
Living your life in balance is not a new concept. There are biblical references to balancing your life; e.g., Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 and Luke 10:41-42. Native Americans believed that when you find your Inner Balance, you walk lightly on the path of the Sacred Medicine Wheel and the vibration of your Life Force walks with the life force of all Creation. Ancient Chinese and Egyptian cultures had proverbs, quotes, and beliefs on balance in your life.
Living your life to me is a question of balancing your various selves. I honestly do not know how a person can live their life without a sense of balance. We all consist of various selves: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. People sometimes wonder why they are such a mess, why they are walking around cockeyed or out of sync with the rest of the world. Despite all the money, honor, success or celebrity they have, they still feel something is missing.
Spirituality and Balance
The answer most likely is that they are out of balance with one or more of their selves. Think about it for a moment: If you are not happy with your physical image because of your weight, or if you have been wandering around the emotional desert of meaning in your life, then you have answered your own unbalanced mobile-of-life dilemma and you need to begin the process of doing something about it. You need to fix some of the pieces of your life.
Those examples are obvious. The spiritual example is less obvious: You can’t see spiritual; you have to be spiritual. Of course, the word spiritual has different meanings for different people. I think spirituality is an important piece in keeping the mobile of life in balance. And if you are wondering what’s missing in your life — it could be that spiritual piece.
To me, God is that spiritual piece. I agree with Father Thomas Merton when he says, “we are not at peace with others because we are not at peace with ourselves and we are not at peace with ourselves because we are not at peace with God” (The Seven Storey Mountain).
I think the meaning of life is to get as close to God as you can get. Sin does not bring you closer to God. When you are not getting as close to God as possible then you are doing nothing to nourish that spiritual part of you; the lack of the spiritual part of the self could also have a profound impact on the psychological, physiological and emotional part as well.
Spirituality and Junk Food
You know that your body needs nourishment from good food, not junk food, or it does not function properly. You simply cannot live on a steady diet of junk food. Sooner or later your body tells you so. You instinctively know when it’s time to eat something good. What do you think happens to your spiritual body when it gets little or no nourishment or the wrong kind of nourishment?
Bishop Robert Barron says, “The pursuit of wealth, pleasure, honor and power are all junk food for the spiritual nourishment that is needed.” More often than not, those pursuits don’t provide the meaning of life that humans truly seek. Humans have an innate need to connect with their spiritual selves. I believe St. Augustine when he said, “Lord, you made us for yourself and our heart is restless until we rest in you.”
Prayer, spiritual reading, corporal and spiritual works of mercy, going to church, receiving the sacraments are all ways to nourish the soul; and by doing so, you just may nourish the whole body. The question of balance in our lives is not something that just happens. You need to make it happen.
There are many studies that foster the idea of a connection between spirituality, helplessness, and happiness (see, for example, Fisher, 2013; Holder, Coleman, & Wallace, 2010). People who feel they are helpless in dealing with many of their life’s issues are often the unhappiest; and, more often than not, they are also the God-less.
Saint Pio of Pietrelcino had a simple solution to living one’s life. Pray, hope, and don’t worry! A mantra from Alcohol Anonymous says, “Let go, let God!”
In many people’s lives, spirituality is the missing piece in the four-spoked mobile of life. My spirituality is in Jesus Christ. He is the Vine and I am only a branch; with Him, I accomplish much, without Him I accomplish nothing. Jesus is the hub of the mobile in my life!
Taking Care of Yourself
So, I have identified four selves of a mobile of living your life: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. Now, let me give you some self-care ideas on how to deal with each of those life pieces that may need a little tweaking or a little bit of self-care glue. I hope and pray that these may help you.
- Eat nourishing food.
- Give yourself a foot massage
- Take a nap.
- Go for a walk, jog, ride a bike, swim.
- Say “I am lovable and capable” in a mirror
- Write in a journal
- Draw or play music to express your emotions
- Smile a lot.
- Eat breakfast mindfully
- Enroll in classes of some kind
- Cross something off a to-do list
- Forgiveness … give it, accept it.
- Do some corporal and spiritual acts of mercy
- Go to church/service/confession
- Read spiritual books and blogs (e.g., Bible, Word on Fire Blog)
- Pray, say the rosary or just sit in the presence of God
These are just a few ideas that go into the work necessary that may bring balance to your life. I have added a blank line in each category for you to add a self-care idea of your own; I’m sure you can add many more things to do in each category. These self-care activities become more meaningful when done in about equal portions. I don’t think to overdo any one category is a good idea: you might knock the mobile out of balance.
God and you have the answers to the questions of balance and spiritual nourishment in your life. When Jesus says, “Peace, I leave with you My Peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth do I give unto you” (John 14:27 DRA), I would like to think he means you should bring peace into your life by living with balance and spiritual nourishment with Him by your side! This Lenten Season, and every day of your life, let Jesus be your ever-present companion; His hand is always there for you.
“And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20 NABRE)