Getting to Zero

Balance is a buzzword these days. With people overworking, struggling to make ends meet, or just getting lost in the chaos of capitalism, many of us long for something that the word ‘balance’ seems to capture. But I must admit, I cringe a little bit inside when I hear the term, ‘work-life balance.’ To be fully alive is to create, provide, protect, cultivate. What if we understood work as a core aspect of life, a chance to live your purpose, to grow like a flower, to become an embodied expression of the gifts bestowed on you? That all gets lost in the rat race. We seek work-life balance because the workplace is set up to extract our productivity from us. I think part of what’s behind the desire for work-life balance is a longing for wholeness. First we must realize that we are already whole!  

Mandala of flowers and pine needles

My own Mayan ancestors saw wholeness in the number zero. Mayan philosopher-scientists observed nature and saw that everything comes out of nothing. An entire tree is encoded in a seed. Life is formed in the emptiness of the womb. Wholeness is there from the very beginning. Profit-based worldviews equate zero with being 'broke,' but in indigenous cosmologies, it represents infinite possibilities. Zero is a symbol of ascension (or moving up). In mathematics, for example, the zero takes a number to the next level. I think moving beyond the rat race to wholeness is about getting to zero.

To me, getting to zero means slowing down for at least a few minutes every day, taking my stress down from 10 to 0. I sit and breathe, bringing attention to the breath. Each inhale energizes the body. Each exhale relaxes the body. This interplay between energy and relaxation brings balance to my nervous system. As my body relaxes, my mind eventually calms down, and I get to a point that feels like zero. For those few moments, I do nothing, I need nothing, and I am no one. In that space I find my center. Getting to zero means connecting to a point at the center of my being that is untouchable, unshakeable, indivisible, whole.

May we all realize our wholeness. Taking a few moments each day to center ourselves through the balancing effects of the breath (preferably at sunrise and at sunset when the sun is at the horizon) is one way to get there.