It’s all about balance.
For years this concept totally eluded me. I got how important it was from a cognitive level, but actually experiencing it in my life? That was a whole other process. Maybe you’re like me and understand the importance of balance, but you’re not quite sure how to experience it.
As I was thinking about finding balance in life, it dawned on me just how similar it is to when I learned to do a headstand in yoga just a few months ago. There are three things I learned that we can apply to finding balance in all areas of our life.
1. Explore your counterbalance.
When first learning to do a headstand, I always fell over into a backbend. I would set myself up, kick my legs into the air, and immediately go too far. This happened time and time again. Then, I tried not kicking so hard. As I set myself up, I lifted my legs very slowly, which resulted in me falling out of the pose, but this time in the other direction. This continued for many more days as I attempted to find my balance.
For those who aren’t familiar with yoga or are wondering what this has to do with you and your life, here’s what I learned. In life, just like in a headstand, before we can find our balance, we must first experience our counterbalance. Perhaps this means if you have a tendency to push hard and overwork yourself, your opposite edge might be taking very little to no action.
Now, just like in my headstand, this still isn’t balance. We will still “fall out” at first when we move in the other direction, but we are learning what it feels like to use those other muscles or move in a new way.
2. Make micro adjustments.
Once I experienced my tendency to kick too hard and what my counterbalance felt like, I was ready to start making micro adjustments to maintain my balance. This started with having awareness of the various body parts that I needed to engage or relax. Sometimes I needed to bend my wrists or elbows a bit more ever so slightly depending on which way I was starting to fall. The point here wasn’t to lean completely one way or the other, but rather to find tiny movements that would help me stay upright.
Once we are familiar with our counterbalances, we can make more subtle adjustments to how we live our lives. To use our previous example, perhaps this means the natural “workaholic” goes between taking action and taking time off on a daily basis. The thing with micro adjustments is they are subtle and happen quickly. If we linger too long in one direction or the other, we fall over. It’s constantly adjusting that keeps us upright.
3. Keep trying.
Holding a headstand isn’t easy. It takes a lot of practice and strength. It doesn’t happen overnight. And, yet, with dedicated practice, I was able to hold my first headstand within a few weeks. It’s still challenging, but the stronger I get, the longer I can hold myself up. Plus, now when I feel I’m about to fall over, I can use my new awareness to lower myself down slowly.
Similarly, maintaining our balance in life isn’t easy. It takes practice and constant awareness for where we need to make those micro adjustments. We are building new muscles. But the more we are dedicated to our practice, the stronger we get and the longer we can maintain our balance. And when we start to lose it, we are better equipped to lower ourselves down slowly rather than crashing to the ground.
Whether or not you practice yoga (or have any desire to), I invite you to apply these three lessons to your own experiences and see what sort of insights you uncover. And, remember, it might be a little scary at first, but it feels pretty damn good when you find that sweet spot for the first time!