Family Ties and Spiritual Awakening:

Lack of healthy life balance can lead to a serious crisis or crash.

By Dave Wali Waugh RPC

As busy professionals it is easy to get out of balance between doing and being. The sages remind us that it is essential that we get a dynamic balance between rest and activity if we are to stay healthy in body, mind, soul, relationships and work.

There just doesn’t seem to be enough time in the day to get everything done. It’s easy to end up exhausted at the end of a long day and toss and turn without much nourishing sleep.

We can be in danger of becoming human doings rather than human beings. If we are not careful our health, relationships or work can begin to suffer leading us to a crisis or a crash.

This either/or dichotomy seems like a stalemate.

Either I keep busy, or I rest and not get enough done. I could take more time off but who is going to pay the bills? Perhaps you hear inner messages like; “If I am not responsible, I am irresponsible. If I’m not busy, I’m lazy. If I’m not successful, I’ll be a failure.”

Shifting from either/or to both/and thinking.

Wise philosophers suggest that we need a new strategy when the old one is not getting us the results we want. Einstein advised us that we can’t solve a problem from the same consciousness that created the problem in the first place. Hegel suggested that to move beyond a dualistic double bind, we need a third place. His three points form a triangle, thesis at the bottom of one corner, antithesis in the opposite corner and synthesis at the top of the triangle. In this case, “doing” is in the thesis corner, “being” in the antithesis corner and awareness is at the apex. In our example the thesis is that we are identified with doing. Our antithesis is the opposite, which is being. The first step is to bring awareness to the dilemma.

That’s all very interesting but how do I apply it in my life?

Here’s the solution. Awareness itself is healing. But for transforming the imbalance quickly, here is a simple practice to move you toward synthesis and integration for a healthier balance of doing and being. You have probably been giving, giving, giving. Now it is time to “take a breather” for your health and vitality without sacrificing quality productivity.

This practice is one you can do during ordinary activities like working on the computer, waiting in a line-up, reconciling your banking or washing the dishes etc. It will enhance your awareness, vitality and choice. It isn’t a good idea to do this while driving a car but we will use the metaphor of driving a car to help you learn what is driving you.

  1. Imagine you are driving your car. The gas pedal and your right foot represent the power of doing. The brake pedal represents your anxiety around crashing into being. The steering wheel represents awareness and choice.
  2. Press down on your right foot as if pressing on the gas pedal and inquire, “What part of me is driving me?” i.e. “doer,” “controller,” “pusher,” “responsible one,” “successful one,” “provider,” “parent,” “critic,” etc.
  3. Acknowledge that part of you and ease off the right foot and move it to the left to press on the brake. Inquire into, “What is the anxious part or need that is driving this part of me?” i.e. “doubter,” “inadequate one,” “the one that fears failure or abandonment, the vulnerable child” etc.
  4. Acknowledge the anxiety or need without judgment. Imagine stopping the car. Take your right foot off the gas or brake and let go of both the doer and the anxious part of you and be present to and aware of both of these parts without analysis or judgment. Be open to wonder and rest for a while in awareness just witnessing the duality.
  5. Notice your left foot. Lean your body slightly to the left to notice what it feels like to rest in being. What part of you does this represent? i.e. “relaxer,” “playful child,” etc. Allow yourself to be surprised by what you discover!
  6. When you are ready, move to the center of the triangle and decide what balance of being and doing you want for your next activity. This gives you more conscious choice.

You can avoid a crisis or crash with awareness.

I’ve seen many busy professionals that have scary dreams that they are speeding down the freeway in their car and it begins to speed out of control. They desperately reach for the brake and there is none. Panic sets in and when they are about to crash they wake up in a sweat. They think, “Oh, it is just a dream!” Exhausted they stumble out of bed toward another busy day of doing and dismiss the dream. My suggestion is to avoid a crash by taking the dream seriously. First check your brakes; then rebalance between doing and being! You don’t have to suffer a crisis, crash or burnout if you learn to rebalance by exercising your awareness and choice muscle.

© 2011 Dave Wali Waugh RPC

Dave Wali Waugh is a Registered Professional Counsellor, Midlife awakening specialist and Sufi Healer. He helps busy professionals get clear direction toward a dynamically balanced life of meaning and prosperity. He can be reached at 604-488-9203.

Midlife Crisis or Midlife Awakening Process?
by Dave Wali Waugh RPC

“The sailor can’t see the North, but knows the needle can.” Emily Dickinson

“Let the beauty you love be what you do…” Rumi

You know how life begins to have more meaning as you age. Somehow time has flown by and you begin to wonder about the meaning of money, your work, relationship, and even why you are here. This seems to happen especially in our middle years.

Without the mentorship and support for creating a meaningful life it can be elusive and downright frustrating to achieve.

Are you in midlife? Is your age between approximately mid thirties to late fifties, or are you metaphorically in the “second half of life?”

What I mean by midlife or the “second half of life” is more of a psychological condition than a chronological age. It’s what some Psychotherapists and Mentors refer to as the “meaning” stage of life.

At a recent international training for Mentors & Guides in California that I attended, our keynote speaker, Dr. Francis Vaughan, invited us to imagine four life stages of the human journey of evolving maturation: 1. The magical stage of childhood. 2. The mastery stage of young adulthood. 3. The meaning stage of midlife. 4. The mystery stage of being an elder.

These stages are presented in a linear way but we can experience magic, mastery, meaning and mystery at any stage of life. The question is what is our center of gravity or the main stage that we are in? What tasks of the previous stages are appropriate for us to complete for our evolving maturation?

The mastery stage of young adulthood requires us to answer specific questions appropriate to that stage of development. According to Jungian Psychotherapist, Dr. James Hollis, in a recent lecture on “Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life,” this is the normal healthy ego stage of development.

As young adults we are inquiring into questions like: “What does my family and culture want from me? How can I make a living and become a successful member of my culture? How can I establish a home and family of my own and with whom?” The emphasis is necessarily on doing and accomplishing a healthy sense of ego identity.

In midlife we often have become established in our culture but now our identification with ego is what is causing us some problems. It is an opportunity for ego thinning or transparency. There is more of a focus on being and the quality of our doing. We may have gotten seriously out of balance between doing and being by staying in the previous stage too long.

It is often a time when our unlived life starts to beckon to us. Maybe that old musical instrument or paint brush in the attic begins to flirt with us. Our old identity is changing and a new one is trying to emerge. Perhaps we are facing a serious illness, our children are leaving the nest, our marriage has ended or our work no longer satisfies. We wonder who is still driving us?

The questions of midlife are quite different from young adulthood. You may find yourself wondering: “Is this all there is? Is there a deeper intelligence in Life? What really matters? Who am I under all the masks of my personality? What is meaningful? What is my unique purpose? What legacy will I leave? What does my soul want from me?”

In nature we see evidence of transformational stages in the caterpillar undergoing a profound metamorphosis in becoming a butterfly. As a caterpillar its main task was eating, a kind of consuming. While in the cocoon it is in-between one major life stage of development and another. It undergoes a complete transformation from an earth bound creature to one with the ability to move freely from the land to the air and back again.

As the butterfly it is attracted to the beauty of flowers. Its main task now is to be in service of pollination and the spreading of beauty.

In Depth Psychology, the butterfly is the symbol for the Psyche, the Greek word for Soul. In midlife the questions invite us on a quest to discover our Soul or deeper nature. Like the Sufi poet and mystic Rumi, we wonder how we too can, “let the beauty we love be what we do?”

Part of the task of the midlife cocoon time is to recover the magic and spontaneity of childhood. It does not mean becoming childish but bringing childlike innocence, wonder and play back into our lives. It is also a time of recovering the spontaneity of adolescence but not identifying with the rebel that has no choice but to rebel against all authority.

We will also need the resources from the mastery stage of development to support our soul’s unique purpose unfolding in the world. If this all goes well we grow in wholeness towards deep maturation.

If this does not go well we can become trapped in an attempt to stay at the younger consumer stage of development. We can see what danger that means for our limited planetary resources. Individuals, couples, groups and even countries can get stuck at the egocentric younger stage of development.

Unfortunately our culture does not help us to recognize or navigate these stages with much skill or grace. We are left to our own devices and for many people the initiatory journey between young adulthood and midlife happens to them as symptoms or a form of crisis.

Without mentorship help this can become a midlife crisis where we are in danger of a major crash. Instead of having wise mentors and elders to help us into the next initiatory stage of development, many mid-lifers crash into symptoms.

Even prior to the crash there may be some warning signs to look out for. The stage of life you were living doesn’t work anymore and the new life hasn’t arrived yet. You may feel caught in a kind of limbo. You may try to go back to the status quo but you can’t, it is just too painful.

Some of the symptoms that you might be experiencing are: feeling lost, bored, empty, a lack of purpose or a sense of meaninglessness? Are your relationships lacking depth, play, or are they descending into chronic blame and criticism? Do you lack vitality or have unusual chronic symptoms?

Many try to self manage the best they can with medication, distractions and addictive tendencies. Of course this is what the culture supports and promotes. Sometimes it helps temporarily but often doesn’t last. It often ends in the chaos of divorce, emotional or literal bankruptcy or burnout.

It doesn’t have to be this way!

There are Mentors who have gone through the midlife passage of transformation and recovered a soulful life of meaning and purpose. They have mapped the territory and left behind clues for us to follow.

For over twenty years I have been blessed to receive meaningful guidance from some of the world’s great soulful mentors. Over the years, I have mapped the territory of my own midlife passage and have been independently helping to guide individuals, couples and small groups toward their own soulful life of deep meaning and purpose.

I have found that the antidote lies within.

There is an outer territory and an inner territory where one is invited to develop skill in the art of navigation with the help of grace. Inside each of us there is a wellspring of the gifts of presence, meaning and purpose that is our birthright.

Your unique purpose can become like an inner compass that orients you toward the True North of a meaningful life. This is the “needle” that the sailor can trust in.

Navigating both the inner and outer territories soulfully has become a quest that has certainly provided me with an abundant vital sense of meaning and purpose.

Are you in midlife and curious about how you can transform meaninglessness into meaningfulness? Are you open to considering that your symptoms may be leading you toward a map and compass that is inviting you on a quest for meaning and purpose? Would you like soulful companions to journey with? Would you like the companionship of a skilled mentor and ally for your journey?

If you want to join me in the quest for meaningful and purposeful living, you can begin the adventurous journey to discovering your true home by answering, “the call to adventure” with a free 30 – minute Introductory Assessment with me at 604-488-9203 or

© Copyright 2011 Dave Wali Waugh rpc

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