Physically Present

Settle in. Embrace the present. Rejoice and give thanks for what is. Recognize and celebrate the blessings that are here and now, the overflowing of the cup, rather than the pieces that seem to be lacking or missing or just out of view.

It seems that my physical strengthening – and even simply being more physically active swimcapgogglesand engaged with my body – also leads to greater sense of contentment. I’m feeling more grounded in my body, literally more physically present. As I push myself physically, which has not historically been part of my life, I’m feeling more engaged with the world, and more at home and at peace. It is a great affirmation of the Synchronous Life model I’ve been developing, and my own experience of engagement with it.

I’ve been so focused on the life of the mind and the spirit for years, and experience myself and my world mainly through internal mental reflection and conversation, which seems one step removed from the immediate, visceral reality of my actual experience.

So my hope is that without reducing or denegrating these manifestations of life, I am growing into a more wellrounded, grounded and balanced person. Part of me wishing that I’d done this 20 years ago, but then quickly moving beyond that to simple gratitude that I’m doing it now – returning again to the present.

When I look in the mirror I feel a bit like a photoshop project caught mid-shift – When the
computer fades or morphs one image into another, and in that facemorphinbetween stage that’s neither what was nor what is becoming. It also kind of feels like my old face is photoshopped onto someone else’s body. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not ripped and don’t expect to be (mostly because I can’t envision having that kind of time to work out) but my body shape is actually changing. And I look and feel younger too, which is nice.

I’m also aware from past seasons of swimming that exercise helps me sleep better, and have less back pain. My core is strengthening, which is provides an additional kind of physical balance and improves my posture. Better posture and more sleep lead to improved circulation and mental acquity.

This process has required effort on my part. I have needed to overcome mental and emotional barriers to the idea of doing an open water swim. I have needed to overcome the physical and mental lethargy of not exercising. I have had to receive the challenge from my best friends to join them in a ½ Tri Relay as an invitation to renewal and transformation, far more than the physical test it will certainly be. I have needed to process through the relationship between contentment, complacency, and comfort. I have needed to exchange the discomfort of complacency for the discomfort of effort, which has moved be, surprisingly, deeper toward contentment. As a dear friend reported from someone else, “When you get to be our age, your body is going to hurt from something. You can have pain that results from being out of shape, or choose the pain that comes with puhsing yourself physically.” As I said, I’m not someone who has had a habit of regular disciplined exercise in a way that challenged me physically. This new commitment to a physical discipline is also seeming to shift the way I experience and think about the other facets of my life. Again, even though I know this and teach it, I have still been caught off guard by my own personal experience of it.

It is one thing to talk about and help others understand the essential integration of body, mind and spirit. It is quite another to experience a shift personally, within myself, and sense that it is more than it appears on the surface to be. This shift is presenting itself to my consciousness as an emergence of something previousy unknown, something new. Where it leads I do not know, and unlike my pattern in the past, I’m becoming increasingly comfortable with not knowing where the road is leading. My joy now is found in simply embracing what is, leaning into it even when it is a bit uncomfortable.

Entrepreneurs say “NO!” to “a balanced life”

…..But if not balance, then what?

#BeyondBalance

During my time working among entrepreneurs over the last 15 years I have consistently heard and seen a rejection of the notion of “balance”. Anytime it is said, invariably some young grinder will scoff and say,

“There’s no such thing as balance.
Or if there is, I certainly don’t have time for it.
I’m 24/7/365 to build my business.”

At first I was confused, then troubled and concerned. I argued, usually just in my head, “You have to balance your personal health, your relationships with your work, otherwise what kind of life will you have? After all, no one on their death bed says, ‘I wish I’d spent more time at work…’” (Turns out some people do, but that’s for another time.) How can people live that way and be happy?

I’ve come to view it differently over the last few years.

The problem with the word balance is that people seem to hear it as “equal amounts of time and energy PUT INTO each segment under consideration. As in, “You need to put the same number of hours into your work, your relationships, your physical health, etc. On the face of it this is fairly unrealistic for most people. A week contains 168 hours. Let’s say you sleep 6 hours per night, leaving you 126 waking hours. Spend another 28 hours on eating and personal hygene. That leaves 98 hours for everything else – work, family and friend Balanced Life pie chartrelationships, exercise, recreation, spiritual and relitious practices. I think most entrepreneurs I know work between 60 and 80 hours each week on their thing, whatever that is. Frankly, many salaried and hourly workers put in as many hours on one or more jobs. In which case, balance that looks like the image here is impossible. That would mean 26 hours of your 126 available for each segment.

There are several false assumptions embedded in this mindset. One inherent falacy is the idea that these six facets of life are siloed, as shown in this image of six separate and distinct collumns – one for each of the six domains of human flourishing. The dominant understanding in this point of view is that the time and energy, behaviors and impact of Balanced Life - siloseach segment need to stay apart from each other. Two of the most obvious examples are: 1)
“Don’t bring your personal problems to work, and don’t bring your work home,” and 2) “Don’t mix your religion/spirituality with your work or relationships,” otherwise known as “Spirituality is a private matter, don’t talk about it with others.”

While there are certainly risks on the other end of this spectrum, the reality is that we cannot build imporous barriers separating these aspects of life. If we are having emotional struggles, or relationship problems, we cannot help but carry these with us into our occupational lives, and they will likely impact us physically.

This energy wants to flow naturally and organically from one to another aspect of life. When things are going well and we feel energized and excited, say at work, about an idea, or in a special relationship, then that positive energy wants to flow over into the other domains and bring vitality to them as well. Conversely, if we are feeling discouraged or depleated in one place, then that will draw energy away from the other facets of life. This happens without our thinking about it.

The gift in this organic system of life is that we can turn this natural process to our advantage. We can channel and direct the positive energy where we need it. We can counterbalance negativity and discouragement in one part of life by boosting the positive energy in another. Harvard Medical School reports that physical activity improves mood and mental focus. According to the Mayo Clinic, exercise can even help counteract the debilitating symptoms of clinical depression, improving quality of life and releasing more energy for other things. It even seems to slow some of the negative declines associated with aging, according to a study conducted at the University of Texas at Dallas. These improvements can have a significant opsitive impact on our relationships and our occupational lives.

If not balance, understood in the above “equal and distinct time and effort” way that seems common among entrepreneurs who dismiss “balance” as unatainable, or at least undesirable disruption to the persuit of their goals, then what?

How do we go “Beyond Balance”?


You may also enjoy reading DownTime,
and “New Seasons, New Priorities” – where I reflected on my own efforts to move #BeyondBalance.

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Featured image credit: Michael Grab – GravityGlue.com

God’s Dream Is Our Wholeness

Genesis 1:24-2:25

We were made complete, and
God’s work of salvation is restoring us to completeness.

The stories from Genesis tell us several things about our humanness. We learn about three aspects of our being that have both external and internal expressions:

  • Physical / Spiritual –the self and our deepest experience
  • Relational / emotional –our experience of self and others
  • Work / intellectual – our interaction with and reflection on the world

As the two creation narratives unfold, we see each of these facets of humankind come to be.

  • The humans are made, physical beings infused with spirit, in God’s image. (1:27; 2:2-8, 21-22)
  • The humans are in relationship, with each other and with God. (1:27; 2:18-25)
  • The humans are given work to do – to tend the garden and manage the animals. (1:28 ; 2:15)

Most of the Biblical witness reflects the unfolding story of God’s continuing invitation to us to live our created wholeness, and our inability or unwillingness to do so.

In the salvation work of God through Jesus Christ we see these three aspects once again, and we see them both redeemed, and used in the ongoing redemption of the world. And in all three aspects, there is a transformation from the former to the latter way of being.

Physically, in the creation stories, distinction and difference matter and are given a central place. In the New Creation, these distinctions fade to the background, what matters is that we “are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28)

Reconciliation – restoration of relationship both to others and to God –

2 Corinthians 5:14-21

Resurrection of the body – the restoration of the physical self, joined with the spiritual.

1 Corinthians 15:35-58 – (Paul works hard to try to explain the inexplicable.)

Work / Intellect

The work of ministry – (Paul compares Christian ministry to the various roles in building construction)
1 Corinthians 3:10-15

Work from salvation, not for salvation –
Ephesians 2:8-9

Transformation of the Intellect –
Romans 12:1-3

(Paul uses the image of a body to explain how we as believers are to function in our ministry roles and more generally how we are to behave.)
Romans 12:4-21

Through the BODY of Christ comes reconciliation of relationships with one another and with God –
Ephesians 2:13-22
Colossians 1:11-23

These all impact each other directly and indirectly – physical illness often disrupts our ability to think clearly and work strongly, as well as upsetting us emotionally. Conflict in a relationship will also often disrupt our work, and impact us emotionally. When we are spiritually disengaged, the result is destructive to all aspects of our self.

God’s work of salvation, including the work effected in and through Jesus Christ and the ongoing power and presence of the Holy Spirit, is to restore us to wholeness. Any faithful work in our personal Christian lives or in our congregations and communities will move us toward this wholeness in which we were created and toward which we are being saved.

I would love to talk with you and explore ways that we might work together as you grow and mature toward wholeness in all areas of your life. I am also available to come and do workshops for organizations. Let’s live into God’s dream for us!