I’m no gymnast but I certainly understand the important of balance in life. Like most people I’ve ‘fallen off the beam’ more than once in my life and have come to understand that all forward movement requires the art of balance.
I’ve often marveled at the young gymnasts; their ability, the agility, the flexibility. That’s never been me. My muscle type is high-tone, which means there is too much tension in the muscle at rest. In other words, the muscle is tight and tense even though it is not doing anything. My mother had this type of muscle tone as well. It was something she was proud of. To her it represented strength. I imagine that a childhood fraught with dysfunction, trauma, drama and stress could easily contribute to this condition. We also know that our DNA contains the traces of the our those that came before us including the energy of their beliefs and experiences. I also used to think that this high tone muscle was an indication of strength, but I understand now that it represents rigidity, inflexibility, stiffness and sometimes pain. Well isn’t that just another example of how life shows up in the moment.
My life growing up was about falling in line and if the line was unbalanced so be it. It was my job to stay upright. Most often I didn’t. Before my awakening, more than 10 years ago now, many would have described me as rigid, inflexible, stiff because in many ways I was. Today after years of working on this, I can see where remnants of these symptoms are still present in my body and mind. The difference is that today I can now recognize them as a stress response and I get to choose how to handle that response.
That is what happens to most of us when faced with stress. The force of a situation, person, circumstance, decision, choice or other action creates stress in our lives. Our bodies, designed to self-heal, sends our troops to find and fight the army of stress hormones before we’re even aware. Our breathing changes, our muscles respond to the message, and our entire system moves into a combat mode. At the same time, our thoughts become muddled, our recall fades, we feel the discomfort and before we know it, we’re out of balance. We fall.
The fall can be a loss of composure or self-control. It can be a physical accident. Maybe it shows up as a flood of emotions that instinctively call us to take action. It can be a mood shift to an unhappy place. All of these responses, trigger even greater responses in us. Those things that take us out of our happy place and cause us to act or speak without thinking. It’s usually these responses that leave us feeling terrible afterward.
So, like any gymnast will tell you, you can learn to develop better balance. Spot your next move forward. Pause to ensure balance before moving forward. Take a step. Go slow. Go gently. Check in on yourself often. Pause again until balance is restored. If you fall off, climb back up. Everyone falls all the time, even the Olympians. Don’t beat yourself up. Congratulate yourself on the courage to move forward. Celebrate each step that you successfully make. Plan your next step. Take it. Go slow. Go gently. Repeat. With practice and focus, you can begin to trust your ability to maintain balance. Before you know it, you may just surprise yourself with a backflip or two in your own life.