6 Tips for Inner Balance & Harmony

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“Don’t look back and ask yourself why, look forward and ask yourself why not”. Source Unknown, taken from a friends Facebook page.

Over the years, I’ve struggled with finding balance and harmony on many different occasions and I still do from time to time. I’ve always been a bit of a worry wart and I’ve often found myself worrying about the little things or worse, hypothetical problems that “could come about”. I’ve gotten much better over the the past few years, but I still have work to do and that’s alright, I’m not perfect, nor do I aim to be. The important things are self awareness and progress and as long as I have both, I know I’m heading in the right direction.

What I’ve found is that if I can manage to create a sense of calm in my mind and follow a balanced and healthy diet, then it usually translates into harmony and balance in my every day life. As a result, I feel happier, my relationships get stronger and my mind stays calm. It’s a 360 degree effect.

Looking back on the books I’ve read, newsletters I subscribe to, advice I’ve received and the quotes on my Yogi Tea Bag :-), I’ve have compiled the ideas that resonate with me the most to bring you the 6 Tips for Inner Balance & Harmony, the ones that help me get back on track when I feel off kilter. I hope you find some of these useful and relevant for you!

1. Be Present
A famous quote, from a book by Alice Morse Earle, which I’m sure you’ve all heard at one point summarizes it best; “The clock is running. Make the most of today. Time waits for no man. Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That’s why it is called the present.”

Have you ever found yourself washing the dishes and thinking about something or a million things completely different? Have you ever driven to work and not remembered the drive because you were caught up in thought? Well, I have. I wasn’t always aware of it, but now looking back I can remember many occasions where I was busy living in another moment and missing the action in the now. I can recall many times when I’ve spent so much time worrying, that I have missed out on the joy of the present. I’m not saying this doesn’t happen anymore, but now I’m better at catching myself in the act. Washing the dishes may not seem important, and you may think it’s silly to need to be present and in the moment during such an arbitrary task, but the thing is that it’s a practice and you need training, and no task is irrelevant to this practice.

2. Think Positive
We often forget that our mind belongs to us and not the other way around. While we may not always have control of the things that happen to us, we have the power to control how we react to them. We can let ourselves be defeated by them or we can have a positive outlook. After all, nothing is permanent and things are always bound to get better.

Some people mistaken thinking positively with being unrealistic. But it is not so. You can be well aware of the realities or the realistic possibilities and still chose to think positively. This doesn’t mean choosing to neglect the facts, but rather choosing to focus on the positive possibilities and not only the negative ones. Until something has happened, it’s just a possibility and there’s absolutely no point to worrying about it.

Being a worry wart is a complete waste of time and counterproductive might I add. I have learned to ask myself “will worrying make this better?” and the answer is always, 100% of the time, NO! Absolutely not! If anything, it just creates negative energy and tension and makes you feel worse. So the next time you find yourself worrying, stop, take a few deep breaths and ask yourself the same question. Then channel your energy towards something positive. Just as the quote in the image above would suggest, look forward and imagine the possibilites.

3. Give Thanks
Giving thanks and praise for the wonderful things in life makes us feel better about what we have and where we are and reminds us of how lucky we are. If you have access to the Internet and are reading this right now, then you’re one of the lucky people out there and have something to be grateful for.

I’m still learning to take a moment each day to give thanks for my loving, caring and supporting hubby with whom I’ve shared some of the most joyous moments in my life so far, and without whom I never would have had the courage to start this blog or get through some of the most difficult moments in my life; a wonderful mama, sister and niece who I miss dearly every day, but I like to think that distance makes the heart grow fonder and even though an ocean divides us physically, nothing can ever break our bond; fantastic in-laws who treat me like a queen and the daughter they never had; and amazing friends that I can count on no matter what, namely a BFF who has stood by my side, even in moments when I probably didn’t deserve it. I’m also learning to be thankful for my lifestyle, the roof over my head, the financial means to buy organic foods and eat well and the chance to travel and see the world from time to time.

4. Smile More
When I smile, I can’t help but feel happy. It brings me a sort of calm serenity. Smiling is contagious and not only makes us feel better, but also makes others feel better. I recently saw a TED video about the power of a smile and it made me smile :-). According to this TED video, one smile has the same endorphin releasing effect as eating 2000 chocolate bars and the same impact on our mood as receiving £16,000. I would say that’s pretty powerful. So the next time you feel sad and find yourself reaching for a chocolate bar, try smiling instead :-).

5. Live Well
Be active, get fresh air, donate, volunteer, spend time with like minded people, do any or all of the above. They will all make you feel good and happy.

Physical activity, besides being good for your health, is also good for your mood. If the gym is not for you, try doing something you love, signing up for a course or taking walks outdoors (weather permitting in Canada). You’ll feel better physically and mentally and you’ll be spending time and energy on yourself, which is important.

I try to walk outdoors as much as I can. I don’t drive here in Milan, I take public transportation to get around for work and when the time and weather allow it, I walk from one lesson to the next, sometimes as long as 40 minutes or more.

However, I’m guilty of not getting enough physical activity lately. Besides walking daily, I’d really like to take up Yoga again. I’ve dabbled in it in the past and enjoyed it, but I’ve been procrastinating from getting back at it. Maybe now that I’ve admitted that publicly, I’ll be more likely to get going and find a studio I like.

6. Eat Well
One of the reasons I started this blog is because I truly believe that food can help us achieve balance and harmony. We are what we eat, and our food choices have an impact on our health and our emotional state. Certain foods cause imbalance, while others reestablish equilibrium.

The Chinese philosophy of Yin Yang is the main pillar of macrobiotics which is based on the idea that all things are made up of yin and yang energy. Yin energy being outward and yang energies being inward. All foods contain both yin and yang energies, but some are more extreme than others. For example, substances like sugar and alcohol are extremely yin while meat and aged cheeses are extremely yang. Grains, vegetables an legumes on the other hand have less pronounced yin and yang energies and sit somewhere near the middle of the scale, making them the most balancing of all foods.

Macrobiotics has helped me to better understand the relationship between food and my physical, mental and emotional states and I am becoming more aware of the foods that cause me imbalance. It’s important to be in touch with our bodies so we can identify the foods that will help us achieve our own personal inner balance. One solution does not fit all.

So there you have it, 6 essential ideas to inspire balance and harmony in your life. For menu inspiration, browse the recipe section.

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