In one of my regular yoga classes at Heartwork last week we focused on balance poses. As many of you already know, balance poses can be tricky and totally different from day to day. Probably more than most other postures, they are influenced by time of day, stress level, worry, and anything else that interferes with concentration. It’s hard to stand on one leg with arms raised when your mind is worrying about another aspect of your life. In may case this evening, I didn’t even realize I was out of balance until I started balancing! I tried everything-moving into the pose slowly and deliberately, focusing on the corner of the wall ( my immoveable drishti!), deep breathing. Nothing helped. Over I went, more than once. I finally accepted the fact I needed to just laugh and keep both feet on the floor.
Tipping over in a pose can be frustrating and humbling. “Tipping over” in our lives can be even more so. It makes us feel off balance and angry and all sorts of other destructive emotions. It often makes us want to push harder into whatever we are doing, rather than step back, reflect, and regroup. Yet often, the harder we push through something that may not be ready to happen, the more off balance we may get. It is often said that what we do ON our mats reflects our lives OFF our mats. Here are some “on the mat” lessons that could apply to daily living.
Embrace the fall.
I had to finally embrace the fact that I was going to fall that night. My typical strategies were not working so I could either give up, become more frustrated, or laugh. Balancing requires a person to think about various options and make choices. It requires us to accept a certain amount of “falling out” of something in order to learn how to better stay in. And it also requires us to remember and apply old lessons to new ones, always ready to accept a certain amount of change. A fall is not a failure, a fall is a learning experience. Accept it and the lesson it brings and move on.
No matter what happens, on or off the mat, we need to be able to focus on something in order to develop, nurture, and maintain it. We are a society with many distractions. We can’t even pull up our computer screen without ads invading every available space, demanding our attention ( and our money!). Now, more than ever, we need to chose those things that have long-lasting meaning for us and give them our complete attention, just as we find our focal point during a yoga class to help us center. The pervasive “clutter” imposed on us, and often unknowingly embraced by us, has the potential to destroy our ability to focus on what truly matters. Make caring for yourself your first focus. Then you will be ready to give quality attention to other parts of your life and ignore what no longer works for you.
Create a safety net.
My safety net the other evening was the wall. I knew it was there, rock solid, waiting to hold me up if I needed it to. I could reach out with my fingers, guiding myself back into the pose, righting my off-balance posture. In our lives we need to have something or someone we can count on when we feel out of balance. We gain strength and connections in relationships. What do you need when you are off-balance? A walk in the woods with a friend, a weekend away, extra sleep, more yoga? Time alone? Figure out what you need and give it to yourself.
Learn and move on.
As you work through the imbalances in your life, try to think of each one as a learning experience. Maybe they happen for a reason, a wake-up call for needed changes. Talk to a friend who may be able to see your situation from a different vantage point. This can offer a more complete picture of what the lesson may be. And remember, just the act of awakening to a need, thinking it through, realizing something needs to change, and then making that happen is a huge learning experience.
An imbalance that feels out of control can eventually turn into more of what you truly need for your life. As you learn to face this need, be good to yourself and do what my 5 year old grandson told me last weekend-give yourself a big kiss! How?…”just blow one into the air and then walk through it.”