The 6 Secrets to Living a More Balanced Life
Restore the Balance – what may sound like the slogan of some wellness retreat, was, in fact, the slogan of 2019 BaliSpirit Festival. And it had nothing to do with wellness but contains a message of global importance. It’s about re-balancing what has gotten out of step. When they decided upon this slogan, the event organizers had mainly two issues in mind: The pollution and destruction of the planet and the predominance of masculine values to the disadvantage of the feminine.
Two topics that have become internationally relevant not just since #MeToo and #FridaysForFuture, and which will not cease to be important, until we have restored the balance again.
The depth of this message had me wondering quite a bit and it inspired me to think more deeply about balance and duality and on how to live a balanced life. And all of a sudden, I started noticing dualities and polarities, balances and imbalances all around me. In fact, almost everything on this planet consists of two poles. Two poles which make a whole. A whole that is only healthy, when there is balance, because no polarity or side is better than the other. In fact, both need and determine each other. Masculine and feminine, good and bad, light and darkness … out of my festival experiences I came up with 6 secrets on how to live a more balanced life.
1. THE PARAMOUNT EXAMPLE: THE BALANCE BETWEEN FEMININE AND MASCULINE
In my opinion, the festival offered a really good and well-balanced choice of workshops with more feminine and/or masculine energy. Now, what do I consider to be a workshop of masculine energy? Workshops such as the ones by Alfred Kendrick or Dean Rosenwald: physically challenging workshops based on the tradition of martial arts. As for the feminine, I’m thinking mainly of workshops such as chanting circles or the moon deck reading workshop with Aarona Leah … And there were also numerous workshops, which dealt or played with this duality, such as dance and music classes, in which both elements could be voiced, in which men and women both brought their specific characteristics „into the arena” thus engaging in a conversation, while none would try to dominate or level the other, but where both could be respected and loved for what they are.
In this respect, I’m thinking of the „Brazilian Dance” class with Meninas da Lua, the „African Drumming Meditation” with Chocolako – both of which were also really physical, but in a very different way than the martial arts classes, I previously mentioned. Or the Wild Voices Cacao Ceremony with Elah and AuSierra. There are countless examples.
Or think of yin and yang yoga: yin being more restorative, more soft, more feminine if you will, yang being more physical, more energetic, more masculine. We always need both aspects. Therefore for a balanced life I make sure to have a nice mix of activities that feed both, the feminine and the masculine energy.
2. ALLOW THE FULL SPECTRUM OF EMOTIONS
When it comes to emotions, we’re very quick to judge. We value it as „good” when we’re happy and interpret as „bad” when we’re sad. What’s bright and light is valued as good, darkness is associated with the Evil. In reality, though, all colours of the rainbow and every mood are part of life – a constant state of happiness is only possible if we suppress and block out certain aspects. And that is not healthy at all.
This is why – amongst other reasons – I was so smitten with Melody Henry’sBlack Metal Yoga, in which we made space for the „dark sides of life”. With her classes, Melody aims at reminding us, that unpleasant experiences are also part of life, and play a significant role in shaping us into who we are today. It would simply be wrong to push them away.
We began this particular yoga class by thinking about an unpleasant experience in our lives. I could feel how the energy in the room shifted immediately. Everybody grew tense and held their breaths, so that Melody had to remind us to continue to breathe. After a little while though, I managed to relax and surrender into this new energy. And then I soon started liking this experiment. It actually felt really good, especially in all the warrior poses. I noticed how my attitude was really strong, stout and proud – as opposed to the rather graceful stance I usually take in a warrior pose. There was a lot of new-found strength in it all, as well as a good portion of humour and playfulness: As we did the humble warrior, Melody laughed and shouted „And now you bow down to the Lord of darkness!” and had us give her „the horns” with our fingers, as we went through fierce pose – the correct translation of Utkatasana, which most of us know as chair pose.
We ended this sweaty, unusual and fun class with a guided meditation, in which we finally released the unpleasant memory and transcended the darkness into light. Both sides had been allowed to be seen, none had been suppressed or valued as superior. But the balance was restored.
3. A WORLD TURNED UPSIDE DOWN. CHANGING DIRECTIONS. AND PERSPECTIVE.
Up and down are two opposites, with which adults rarely play and experiment. Children do this all the time. But as grownups we walk on our feet, keeping our heads up high and only sometimes turn ourselves upside down. Our yoga practice is one of those rare occasions. It is probably for some good reasons, that inversions are such an important part of each yoga practice. I personally can say that I master the forearm-balance quite well. But I have issues with doing a handstand. This is mainly due to the fact that I don’t really dare to try it for real. I don’t fully trust my hands and arms to hold me. Which is why I really enjoyed taking part in the workshops of Alfred Kendrick and Daniel Rojas. In Kendrick’s capoeira class and Rojas’ Animalistic movements class, I learned to trust in the stability of my arms and hands. While I was practising simple capoeira moves, I playfully discovered that I can actually put pressure and weight on them without collapsing and that it is not scary at all if they take over the work that’s usually done by the legs and the feet and transport me from A to B. This experience was so powerful that I intend to join a handstand workshop in the near future.
It also taught me once again that changing the perspective can give you a totally new vision of something. It can create clarity, gratefulness and usually helps, to see the good of a certain situation and is therefore very helpful for a balanced life.
4. ICE, ICE, BABY … TOO COOL FOR SCHOOL IN THE TROPICS. AND CHOOSING REACTIONS.
The standard weather in Bali is hot. During all the time I was there – February to March – 30°C was the average standard temperature. It rarely gets really cold unless, of course, you turn on the AC. But nature and our planet need both the hot and the cold. And just as you can train yourself to handle the heat, you can train yourself to better handle the cold. A crazy guy from the Netherlands is a specialist for that. His name is Wim Hoff and he holds numerous records, which involve ice swimming and climbing the Himalaya only in his underwear … Now you don’t need to follow all his ideas, but maybe you want to try the method he developed, the Wim Hoff method. We were lucky that Alex Tsuk, a big fan of Wim Hoff, hosted some workshops at the festival, in which he taught us interesting things about cold, pain, and will power. After some intense breathing exercises, we put our hands into buckets filled with ice cubes and water. For five full minutes – which was quite challenging. But Alex’ taught us how to breathe through the unpleasant feeling of extreme cold and deal with physical pain.
Did you know that pain doesn’t necessarily have to be bad? In fact, pain is only a signal for your brain. And if you know this, you’re free to decide how you want to react to this signal. You can calmly look at it and decide, whether you are in danger or if you’re only afraid. Then you can act. I find this approach very freeing and empowering and use it a lot in everyday situations.
5. ACTIVITY AND REST, COMMUNITY AND RETREAT.
A festival that lasts for one whole week, as does the BaliSpirit Festival, can be a little overwhelming for some. At least this is how I felt. The choice of workshops, classes, concerts and activities is just so incredible that you literally want to go to every single one. The teachers are so super qualified and professional – and nice! –, the other participants so full of love and joy, and just really open. If you don’t watch out, you will end up on your feet – or hands 😉 – the whole week without really ever taking some rest, even if you want to. I remember one evening when I felt some sort of overkill and decided that the next day I would only go in the morning for one class and then head back home to chill. Of course, this never happened, and I stayed the whole day and evening 🙂
What’s more, is that usually you would only go to one class or two in a row, and then integrate and let it work through you. At the festival, you are exposed to a real storm of input as you rush from class to class on a natural high – or on cacao – because everything is so exciting! Plus, the input doesn’t only come from the classes, it’s the whole atmosphere, everything … all the cacao ceremonies, the true connection, the eye-gazing exercises, the tears, the laughter, the hip openers … This all contributes to an amazing field of shared energy. Everybody floats around with open hearts, willing to connect. So you are constantly connecting with others, you’re part of a great big, colourful community of love.
But for a balanced life it is also important to enter into a relationship with yourself. Which will inevitably happen at the BaliSpirit Festival. Emotional meltdowns, as I like to call them, happen every day. You will laugh, and you will cry. Both are expressions that are extremely healthy. To reconcile the two, to restore the balance and to digest all the input, your body and soul will need a break at some point. Luckily, the festival organisers know this and have placed sweet little oases of quietude all over the festival grounds, where you can rest and be still. Thank you for that!
6. MAKING ENDS MEET: INNER CIRCLE AND OUTSIDE WORLD.
Finally, I would like to point out something that I think is significant, if we really want to make a change on this planet and to restore balance: Of course, it is important to come together and meet and exchange with like-minded people at events such as the BaliSpirit Festival, where we can recharge our batteries, be healed and nourished and inspired by each other. At a gathering like this, everyone practices yoga or honours and celebrates the body as a temple, keeping it healthy through good food and exercise. Everybody here desires connection, strives for open, honest, authentic and non-violent communication and wants to make the world a better place. But this is not the case everywhere. This is why it is important that we leave our „bubble” from time to time, that we meet with people who have different opinions and talk to them. With our families, with neighbours, with colleagues, clients, strangers on the streets and on the subway … In situations like these, we must face the contrary opinions that confront our beliefs, find the courage to use our voices and stand up for what we celebrate together in love on occasions like the BaliSpirit Festival. Only then can we be the change we want to see in this world. Otherwise we only reproduce a constant echo that has little impact. It is an important aspect for a balanced life, to give and to receive knowledge, to connect with like minded but also stay open for others, not like minded.
Most photos and text by Noémie Causse. Noémie is a Berlin-based enthusiastic yogini, meditation adept and spiritual seeker. When she’s not sweating on the mat or exploring her inner universe in silence, she likes to ride her black bike, meet with friends, cook and eat healthy vegan dishes, dance, sing and travel. She writes about her experiences with yoga and meditation on her blog www.spiritandthecity.online