Are you drawn to structure or freedom in your life, or some of both?
I’ve been reflecting on these two dynamics lately and sense that they are one set of opposites in the classic yin/yang balance crucial to growth and happiness that is well worth exploring.
Structure to me is the yang: planning, organizing, doing, thinking, decision making. It gives us a sense of safety, focus and direction.
Freedom is the yin: creativity, letting go, feeling, intuiting, sensing, waiting. It gives us a sense of spaciousness, possibility and inspiration.
While I feel that we all need both of these energies in our lives, to greater or lesser extents, depending on our individuality and where we are in our lives, many of us get caught going too far to one extreme or another. I know I have. It’s an ongoing balancing act.
Some of us have had stressful experiences with one of these dynamics which can leave unhealthy conditioning in its wake. For example too much discipline or rules for certain children may cause them to shut down when they feel confined by structure, or for others may cause them to need to control their environment at all costs. Too much freedom (lack of structure) for certain children may contribute to them feeling lost and directionless, while others may respond by needing to take control to feel safe.
In my experience, as adults, too much structure in our lives can feel stifling, boring, frustrating, constraining and heavy. Too much freedom can feel ungrounded, dull, unfulfilling, spacey and unproductive.
Either one taken to extreme can make us feel unsettled and create a sense of dissatisfaction. I don’t have an answer as to how we solve these imbalances except to be aware and to trust when life is guiding us to be open to more of either one of these dynamics. For example maybe your mornings feel unproductive and scattered. It could be helpful to create to a routine perhaps including some meditation, a walk or some movement, and preparing some healthy meals for the day. If you have a set routine and it has become stressful to fit everything in harmoniously with the rest of your household, you may find it helpful to let go for awhile and see what new structure forms itself. Since my puppy Bodhi has come into my life I’ve had to let go of my usual morning routine and be open to a reorganization. There is no way I can meditate first thing in the morning when he wakes up after being in his crate all night. So we go out early and work in the garden for a while so he can explore, do his business, run and chew. Then he’s ready to settle next to me for meditation practice. I’m finding that I’m thoroughly enjoying being out among the plants at dawn and my garden is benefiting from the extra tending.
Here are some examples of balance that have worked their way into my life usually through personal experience of going too far one way or the other:
- Making a list of things to do on a given day and committing ourselves to doing them, and also allowing ourselves natural time days that we allow to unfold with no demands.
- Taking structured exercise and movement classes, and also letting ourselves dance and move intuitively.
- Using recipes to cook with to inspire us in the kitchen, and also having fun creating a meal with what we find in our fridge and garden.
- Reading books, and taking courses and classes, and also knowing when it’s time to let go of outside information for awhile to give ourselves time to integrate and learn from inner guidance.
- Deciding to do a structured cleanse or diet for a certain period of time, and also allowing ourselves to simply listen to our bodies with no food rules at all.
- Letting some of our land and garden space be planned to create an environment for certain plants to thrive, and also letting some of it be wild to allow for unexpected plants, insects and birds to show up.
- When we are spending time with friends and family, thinking about some possible activities beforehand, and also letting the time unfold naturally and dynamically.
- Doing research to solve an issue in our life, and also taking some time to be still to create an opening for inner guidance.
No doubt you can think of many more examples of how structure and freedom can be balanced. How about you? Do you need more of one or the other in your life at this time? How does life show you that a shift is needed? Can you be open to any resistance you may have to either structure or freedom?
Blessings and smiles,