One of the yoga classes I go to at the local community centre involves both a relaxation and a brief meditation. Each week the teacher prompts us to meditate on a topic and the other week she chose ‘balance’. We had, during the physical part of the class, being balancing in tree pose and we all noted how there was constant movement as each of us made slight alterations to our stance to maintain the pose – and ensure we didn’t fall over. Even in mountain pose – which looks the most straightforward – I found it difficult to be absolutely still.
In the introduction to the meditation we were asked to consider ‘balance in life’ – particularly as something that we don’t simply achieve and then have for evermore.
As with many things at this time in my life I thought about my relationship with my body and the challenges I have with food and diet culture. I thought about how, in the past, I had adopted an all or nothing approach with the intention of cracking this need to lose weight. Once achieved I would be in total thin equilibrium with the world and never be unbalanced ever again. Invariably I fell over!
My balance in yoga involves a lot of movement, tiny shifts in stance to maintain a pose. I accept this and am grateful for what I can achieve – for what my body will do. Unfortunately in the rest of my life I have demanded perfect balance without adaptation and then been furious when I failed to achieve my goals.
I recognise that from these imperceptible shifts in stance during yoga I can build strength. So why not in the rest of my life? A similar approach to balance would support the development of resilience and avoid the trap of extreme behaviours. In fact I am becoming convinced that this ‘balancing act’ is the movement I need to help propel my life along a new path. Which does not involve weight loss.
I now have a strong sense of balance as dynamic rather than static and as something that builds strength through adaptation. It is also something that comes and goes. Some weeks I can stay in tree pose without wobbling and then the following class I am unable to keep still. And so in life. Sometimes I am steady and focused and other times I have to make those necessary shifts to stay upright.
But that is not a problem – it all builds strength.