Balance by Cyndy Edwards
I am blessed to live in a neighborhood completely surrounded by trees. Nearly every morning I soak in the sights, sounds, & smells of its earliest moments. I have discovered that starting the day in motion with nature brings me into balance emotionally, spiritually, & physically.
Balance on its surface seems a simple thing. It’s bringing two disparate or separate things/items into equilibrium. Hard-soft, light-dark, right-left, up-down, top-bottom, front-back. After all, isn’t that what learning to stand, and then to walk, is all about? Learning to stack various bones atop each other in a manner that keeps us upright. Then learning how to shift the weight of our bones so that the stack remains while we’re in motion? Do we always stay upright? No. Are we always in equilibrium? No. Perhaps we don’t always want to be, but when we do, it’s good to know how.
Many factors influence our personal sense of balance including age, core strength, and general mobility. When in a static standing pose, our bodies tend to adjust first at the ankle, then the hip, eventually using the whole leg to step out if needed. When you start playing with physical balance, you’re likely to fall a little. That’s a good thing. Our brain benefits from new sensations, new challenges.
The next time you’re standing, notice how your bones are stacked. Is your weight mostly on one leg? Are you leaning forward or back or to a side? In what direction are you toes pointing? If your feet are bare, play a little with your toes. Can you lift only the big toe on each foot? How about its pinky toe? When you lift all of your toes keeping the ball mounts behind them firmly grounded, are you able to lower only the big toe? Its pinky toe? Is one foot more malleable than the other? Is that your preferred side when standing on one leg?
The next time you wobble or tilt or step out of tree or dancer or four-square, congratulate yourself for training your brain.
In a talk on balance, the poet-philosopher John O’Donohue said it best, “Balance invites us not to take ourselves too seriously.”
Like the joy of the sea coming home to shore,
May the relief of laughter rinse through your soul.
As the wind loves to call things to dance,
May your gravity be lightened by grace.
Like the dignity of moonlight restoring the earth,
May your thoughts incline with reverence and respect.
As water takes whatever shape it is in,
So free may you be about who you become.
As silence smiles on the other side of what’s said,
May your sense of irony bring perspective.
As time remains free of all that it frames,
May your mind stay clear of all it names.
May your prayer of listening deepen enough
To hear in the depths the laughter of God.
- John O’Donohue, To Bless the Space Between Us