Wednesday, July 20, 2011
When I was a young girl, Olga Korbut ruled the gymnastic's world. Of all her feats in the gym, the balance beam was my absolute favourite. How any human could make the moves she was able to make on that narrow, (and dangerously hard), plank of wood was beyond me! Absolutely terrifying and mesmerising at the same time!
Our high school's gymnastic's team was desperate enough to allow a complete newbie like me join for fun. While athletic, I'm not particularly graceful, flexible nor musical so I eshewed the floor routine and headed for Olga's dream machine - the balance beam. I didn't have any illusions about flips or half twist dismounts, I was hoping to walk the length with a gentle toe dip and not fall off. In the end, I learned how to do a forward and backward roll, a cartwheel and a fancy enough dismount that allowed me to compete in a local tournament. But mostly, I learned about balance.
We read and hear so much about the importance of balance in our lives - who has it, who doesn't, why we need it, where to get it. Some of what we read promotes external places to find balance - as if we can purchase it at a spa or coffee shop or find it in the latest issue of a woman's magazines. Many of us think balance is about weighing the various parts of our day and ensuring that leisure and work time equal up - then we fret because that never seems to work out! And we end up worrying about our personal balance - do I have it? Can I get it? What is it?
Here's what I've discovered about balance:
A year ago, I was training hard for a marathon - running 45-50 km a week. I was commuting 5 days a week by train and subway for 3 hours each day! I worked as a busy program manager with a large staff and hundreds of clients. I came home at night to cook healthy meals and spent my evenings teaching an online college course. I'm married, have children, 2 cats and a big house. It was a busy, busy time and I felt in balance.
Today, I'm home fulltime enjoying a hiatus between completing my coaching studies and the fast pace of fall to come. I run about 30 km a week for fun - no races planned this year. My daughter has recovered well enough from her illness to be independent - the cats are still around but not particularly needy. I go for walks, water the garden, swim in the pool, chat with the neighbours. My life is completely different than it was a year ago but, like last year, it's in balance.
Balance is not about the kinds of things we choose to do or even the proportion of time we spend doing them. To me, balance is the same in life as it is in the gymnasium. On the beam, you have to develop an internal sense of where the center is. Your physical center and the center of the beam. Then you make sure the two are lined up at all times. In life, you need to develop an internal sense of where your center is and align it to your actions. This is, ultimately, personal balance and it can be achieved under any circumstance - the spa visit is optional!
Being out of balance feels wrong and you often know it while you're in it even if you don't know why. Identifying your center: who you are, what you value, what your life purpose is, what thrills you, what scares you, where you're happiest, who you see in the mirror is the beginning of figuring out balance. If you don't know how to do this, I'd suggest hiring a Certified Life Coach (www.internationalcoachfederat
ion.com for starters) to begin figuring it out.
Until you find your center, no amount of rearranging your daily life is going to fix your balance problem. You're going to keep falling off that beam over and over again. Once you know it though, it will be difficult to ever let yourself get out of balance again.