Balance – it’s an interesting concept and one that we use in a wide variety of ways. As I write this, there’s a cat balanced on my shoulder because she wants to be out and about with us, but she doesn’t wants to play with the dogs. So, I’m trying to balance my need to get this done with her need for companionship in a way that makes her feel safe and secure – hence the sitting on my shoulder.
Bear-Bear, the cat, is 15 years old. For most of her life she was mothered by a large golden retriever, but later she was shaken by a dog and since then she has become more fearful. Some of our five dogs don’t even know she’s out, but a couple of them, one in particular, find her fascinating and their style of play doesn’t work well for this old cat. So we spend our lives trying to meet our responsibilities to them by finding a balance for their respective, mostly incompatible, needs.
Balancing incompatible needs and meeting differing responsibilities – we hear a lot about that these days. It seems to be an unreachable goal and just adds to our feeling that we can’t quite manage it all, because we haven’t found Balance – with that capital B! But in my yoga practice, I’ve learned something important about the concept of balance. To illustrate it, I’ll ask you to take off your shoes and ‘balance’ on one foot. Try to stand there for a while – if you have to rest your hand on something or put your foot down, do, no one is watching. Now pay attention to your standing foot. You’ll begin to notice that your foot isn’t still, the muscles are making constant tiny adjustments, and you can feel yourself shifting slightly to be able to stand on that one foot. Add a heavy wind or minor earthquake and you’d start to feel your entire body adjusting. Balance isn’t static. Balance isn’t a goal I achieve and then I have it forever. Balance is a process. Even when we use it that way calling something a ‘balancing act’ we still think of it as something to achieve not something that is on-going. But keeping our balance is an on-going process.
This week as the holiday season draws to a close and we start the New Year, especially if you have a list of resolutions, perhaps it’s a good time to give ourselves a break and not try to find THE perfect balance point among all the demands in our lives. Remember that standing up takes all sorts of muscles let alone balancing on one foot. So maybe we can be okay with finding a sort of balance today and we’ll work on tomorrow’s balance tomorrow, if we even need to. Maybe we can even be okay with reaching a hand out for help or putting our foot down.