March 7, 2014

The Secret to Finding Balance in Work & Life. ~ Jade Allan

Big Wave Surfing

There is a way to find balance with work & life—without quitting our jobs.

I once witnessed my yoga classmates, eyes closed, hands in chin mudra, om-chanting in unison. That was my last class for almost three years. “It’s just too spiritual,” I thought.

Today, my business is yoga. I regularly guide city workers towards self-belief and stress-relief. While my perception of yoga hasn’t changed, my understanding of spirituality certainly has. 

Through hereditary associations or personal fears, certain words hinder their own understanding. “Spiritual” is one of these words. The term, spirituality, has evolved over millennia and holds diverse and variable meanings. To me, spirituality conjured up images of the occult.

Not long after that first yoga class, I moved to Australia briefly and learned to surf. I was hooked the moment my foam board glided along the white water. Every chance to travel thereafter I hunted secluded beaches with consistently warm surf. I’d relish sharing surfing experiences with others. One day, while recounting the instructions for life I learned in the ocean, to a colleague, it became clear just how much I had changed.

Waiting behind the breaking waves, poised, scanning the horizon, anticipating the swell. Rare moments of patience. When the wave finally approaches, we give everything to be in the perfect spot, moving in just the right direction to ride that thing as long as possible. The threat of being wiped-out or dumped, unceremoniously, onto the shore is always there. We’ll know we gave it our all and inevitably learned a valuable lesson for the next wave.

My colleague replied, “I didn’t know you were so spiritual.”

Neither did I.

We all have a passion that revives us. While occupied by our passion, we lose track of time, feel energized and more “us”. Perhaps it’s surfing, cooking, singing, running, dancing or making love. Whatever it is, we don’t need others to force us to do it and we’ll gladly spend hours absorbed in it.

That feeling is spirituality.

Spirituality is whatever makes our hearts sing and breathes life into us. It’s what defines us, and we’re honoured to share it, above any material thing. Spirituality makes us feel as though we can’t be stopped.

The Oxford Dictionary defines spiritual as “relating to or affecting the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things.” 

Derived from the Latin, spirare, it pertains to the breath. Spirituality is the very essence of our being.

We are equally spirit and matter and while endlessly encouraged to satiate material desires, spiritual fulfilment is less emphasized. We may have every thing we want—good job, relationship, financial security—but if we still ask, Is this it?, then neglecting spirituality could be the answer.

Our generation craves meaning above money when it comes to career. Growing numbers of people are disillusioned with work. There’s a pressing need to “breathe” more into our corporate lives.

“Corporate,” with roots in the Latin “corpora”, or “body,” relates to “material or physical things.” When we nurture only the material, or business, side of ourselves, we overlook the vital breath that makes us who we are. The pursuit of “work life balance” has existed for decades and will continue to elude us until we invest as much in our spirare as we do our corpus. Therein lies the balance.

So should we quit our jobs en masse and spend our days painting or dancing salsa?

Not necessarily. We simply have to unite these two distinct parts of our self. Our work may already be supporting our spiritual needs, we just have to ask questions that reveal it.


Here’s an example.

A recent client was bored at work, so she spent most of her day dreaming of her true love and dancing. When the conversation moved from work to dance she seemed to grow taller, brighter and more alive. Dancing, to her, was spiritual. Asking the right questions, she learned how her job was not only providing the finances to pursue her dance training, but also developing invaluable skills in marketing that could boost her own dance-related business, down the line. Through work she was building a network that would turn into clients of her own. Suddenly work didn’t seem so bad.

Take a moment to consider these questions and list as many answers as possible:

1. How does my job help me to pursue what I love? 

2. How does what I love help me at work?

Seeing the link between each side can quickly bring that elusive balance forward and make it easier to be grateful for where we are.

As I was drawn back to yoga as stress-relief, I returned with a whole new appreciation for the spiritual side. Ultimately, yoga led me to leave my corporate job to help others find meaning in their careers, but I continue to respect the need for both spirit and matter, breath and body; total equilibrium.

“Whether you believe you can do a thing or not, you are right.” ~ Henry Ford

We all long to find the work/life balance and show the world that we’re more than our jobs. When we let go of seeing our job as obstructing what we really want and understand how it may already be supporting us in what we truly love, we let go of struggle and open to gratitude.

Embracing our spiritual calling, like breathing, is part of being abundantly alive, completely human, and fully us.


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Editorial Assistant: Ashleigh Hitchcock/Editor: Jenna Penielle Lyons

Photo: Wikipedia, Jade Allan

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