Yesterday I went to yoga for the first time in months. I feel good today, pleasantly sore, but that class was. not. easy. The balancing poses have always been some of my strongest, but yesterday confirmed that my yoga hiatus had taken its toll. My legs wobbled in the longer holds. I found it hard to keep my face calm and my breath steady. It reminded me, once again, of how the mental and physical aspects of yoga are indelibly interwoven. The shaking legs beneath me, telling not only of the muscle’s long break from seeking equilibrium, but also of how little I had made the space to practice mental balance.
A few months ago my husband, Mark, came to me distraught. He was having a challenging time and lamented that all he wanted at that moment was some balance. We started to talk about what balance means. Sometimes we view balance like it is a destination to arrive at. We decided that if balance were an actual location it would be something like Bali: Balmy, calming breezes, and every clock set to island time. But even a place like Bali is not a good representation of balance. It’s on the other side of the pendulum from overworking.
Mark is an avid surfer with over 30 years under his belt. I asked him, “How do you stand on a surf board?” He stands up and shows me his best surfing stance. I ask him what would happen if he stood up straight with his arms at his sides, or crouched really low with his hands above his head? He snickered at me and said, “You’d fall right off.” In surfing you have to constantly negotiate your body, your space, the board, the ocean, the wave, and others around you (especially in the LA waters). Your feet are in constant motion on the board, shifting slightly, keeping you in balance.
I wish I could hop on a plane headed towards some magical place, and upon arrival, my passport would be stamped and I’d be granted entrance to “Balance,” and there I would remain, living out my days with all facets of my life in perfect harmony. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that. Balance is not a place to arrive at. It is a constant struggle, a negotiation between all the parts of your life. Balance is about accepting this negotiation. It is about understanding that true balance can only be glimpsed in rare moments, when, just for an instant, things align, and you feel as if you are being carried along by the universe, on some perfect, cosmic wave.