Living the Wheel written by Michelle Katz
“If there were a measure of ‘mental health,’ it would involve the ability of individuals to grow into the fullness of each season—this is, the ability to fully become, or enact, the contents of each shield.”-Steven Foster and Meredith Little
As I go through my day, month, year, life, I ask myself where am I? Not in physical space, not even in mental space, but in the space of human nature.
How many of us have felt unbalanced?
Think of times when all you did was play, the semester of high school or college that you were focused more on socializing and parties than meeting responsibilities. Recall a time in your life where work took over all priorities, “I just need to finish this project and then I will be okay, only then will I be able to pay more attention to my family or friends or personal health.” Was there a stage of life when it was hard to see who you are through the struggles you were experiencing, times of shame or regret or not knowing, times when all you can do is wait? And can you think of a time that was almost too good to be true, as if you were living on a different worldly plane, a time of such ecstasy it was hard to see who you really are in all the mystical bliss.
Living in one of these places over a longer duration of time may mean there is some imbalance in your life. These are signs of experiencing an exaggerated shield.
We are all vulnerable to this. In fact, most of us have our proclivity to a shield. I tend to live in the west and north shields, I tend toward asking big questions of introspection that lead me to dark places and I can be overly focused on my work that can leave me feeling more alone than I really am. American Culture generally lives in the south and west shield, involved in our distractions and pleasures and ever questioning our changing or unknown identity. Those who we know that have devoted their lives to work, live in the north shield, and those who are committed to spiritual practices would have an inclination for the east shield.
The practice of the Four Shields Model, invites us to look at where we are and how we are experiencing our human nature while offering us the significant truth of what we naturally do: move. We are never stuck, it our nature to change as the seasons do. And even more, in any given time, we are having one experience of a shield, on top of another experience of a shield, on top of another and another. I can be the west shield phase of my life, while living a very north shield day, and experiencing a very east shield hour. And we keep going around the circle. That is the balance. This is living our human nature. This is growing into the fullness of each season. This is mental health.