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Balancing Begins with Valuing Yourself

Remember a time when you played with your physical balanceon a balance beam, log, railing, or perhaps point shoes, ice skates or a bicycle. Imagine how you leaned to the left and then the right, perhaps you laughed as you fell down and picked yourself back up. Finding your balance was an exhilarating game filled with fleeting moments of true balance. This is the process of learning active life-balance. And this is a process that never ends. It is also a practice that can be fun, if you let go- fall down and enjoy the ride.

The same concept can be applied to your emotions and thoughts. Feeling grounded, balanced and clear throughout your day, begins with valuing every part of you.  Just as you have one body that goes with you everywhere you go, you have all of your experiences, memories, likes and dislikes that travel with you through your day. The idea of playing with balance is like picking out your outfit for the day. The clothes you wore yesterday were perfect for yesterday- but you may feel more comfortable and better about yourself in a different color and style today. You looked and felt great yesterdayappreciate the clothes you wore and how they felt.  Know that you will wear them again (together or with other things) when the time is right. Thoughts and emotions are like your clothes. Sometimes the blue sweater is perfect, sometimes the white; sometimes you will love your friends, parents, schoolmates, sometimes you they will drive you crazy. Both are perfect- just be honest with yourself and value where you are in your thoughts and emotions.

The ideas of balance, happiness, and relaxation are often portrayed as things you achieve and keep- maintaining them day after day. I was really surprised when I started to study yoga because I though everyone would be nice, friendly and relaxed. At first it seemed that way. I was coming from the very competitive world of modern dance- yoga is built on the idea of non-competitive practice. It felt wonderful to be able to move in my body without being stared at and scrutinized. As I learned more, I met more advanced yogis; yogis from India and people who have been practicing for many years. They seemed nearly emotionally unstableeuphoric one minute, angry the next.  They yelled at all of the studentscalling us lazy and stupidtelling us to focus and breathe. They were rude, mean and lovely all at once.  I was shocked.

I share this story because I learned that ‘balance’ comes from valuing every part of you: good days and bad, joy and anger, love and sadness; the things you are good at and the things you are not; things you have, things you want and things you will not have. Finding balance is not based on manipulation or control. What I learned from the meanest yogis I trained with was that their teaching practice was a part of their yoga practice.  They were yelling at themselves more than at the students. This was not something that I needed to take personally. My job was to stay balanced and focused on me. These teachers were fighting themselves and not valuing their own struggles as well as the growth of their students. This was a great gift.

Think of times, relationships, areas and moments in your life when you have felt uncomfortable. As you remember these times, look formaybe even write downwhat you learned. Active balance refers to growing from your experiences. Stress accumulates in our days when we are acting like some of my yoga teachers and fighting ourselves.  The person you will learn most from over the course of your life is you.

Honor and value every aspect of yourself. Start with your body: shift to the right and to the left, find your balance and loose itenjoy the process and do it againand again.

Life is not a balancing act. Life is the practice of daily acts of balance.

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