When I thought about “balance,” it usually involved symmetry and always meant holding still (as in yoga postures). Even spiritually, balance seemed to be some kind of ideal stopping place that once achieved, must simply be HELD, for any further movement risked losing balance and maybe even FALLING (from grace!).
But the Fae knew better and gave me a lesson–a fun one, naturally!–in the dynamism of balance last week in the forest.
They guided me (by inner voices) down a narrow path along a creek, and directed me to a spot where a weathered board was laid over a raised tree root. “Hop on!” they urged. “See if you can keep both ends off the ground!”
So I did get on, and found that was quite a challenge! The old Susan would have been VERY EARNEST and gotten VERY UPSET with how often a board end bumped down onto the path–was I such a total failure at such a simple task?! But the new improved Susan (who likes feeling age 5 better than 50+) was more giggly than grieved. And as I dipped and tilted and swayed, I discovered not only some physical skills but also some spiritual insights about balance.
First, the farther you are at either extreme, the more work it is to get and stay balanced. When my feet were spread wide, I really had to struggle not to clunk the board down. But when I positioned my feet just a LITTLE on either side of the center spot, it took virtually no effort to adjust the board’s position to “float” above the ground. Too close to center, and I couldn’t get anywhere; too far away, and I was wildly unstable. “You see?” the Fae commented. “If you’re far over to an extreme in your beliefs or attitudes, you can easily be “clunked down” into negative emotions or reactions. But if you give yourself a LITTLE room on either side of what you see as center, you can make adjustments with minimal effort. And it’s more FUN!”
Second, balance is always shifting, not static. “Notice,” the Fae whispered, “even if you hold your muscles perfectly quiet, YOU are still in motion–lungs breathing, heart pumping, blood flowing–and so you must constantly, slightly, alter your stance. AND there is motion all around you! Feel the breezes, see the bugs landing on the board, sense the animals tunneling under the ground. All of THIS affects you and means you must shift, too. Everything moves, everything changes moment by moment, and to stay balanced means responding to those changes, not holding yourself rigid against them.”
Chaos theory, anyone? Their point was that stillness, zero point, perfect balance, is fleeting at best, and mostly an illusion! Whether it’s in nature or our daily lives, true poise–true balance–is all in adjusting and moving and responding with ease and grace to inner and outer shifts.
As the Fae reminded me after I hopped off the board and started back up the path, “If you’re perfectly still, you’re DEAD! (giggle, giggle.)” So here’s to living balanced in perpetual motion. Surf’s up! :-)