When most people are asked to remember their most vivid high school memory, most might recall their prom night, graduation, or the moment they first fell in love. I remember balancing an egg. Well, actually no. I remember attempting to balance an egg and failing miserably. I have yet to let it go after all these years. I was the only one in my acting class that couldn’t do it. Yes, it was an acting exercise and no; I have no clue as to how it was related to acting.
This seemingly insignificant acting exercise made me question myself. Was there something wrong with me that made me the only one not able to do it? I have mulled over it for years. Wondering if it meant that I was so psychologically off balanced that it transcended to this egg.
I recalled this incident last weekend in yoga class as I was doing a pretty impressive arm balance and I thought if only my 16-year-old self could see me now. Who cares about balancing an egg, I can balance my own body on my hands! And then it dawned on me; for the better part of my life, I have been attempting to balance my life like I attempted to balance that egg when I really should have been balancing my life like I do in yoga.
Let me explain.
Often times clients, family members and friends say they need more balance in their life. Balance of what? The usually suspects; family life, social time with friends, work vs. play, ect. For the most part, when someone says that they want more balance in their life they are referring to the juggling act between their obligations and their leisurely activities. I had once heard that this is never possible and there is no such thing as creating balance between all these things. We can only prioritize. I didn’t like this answer then and I still won’t accept it because it does not empower me.
It makes me feel defeated.
This is what it is to balance an egg. My egg was dependent on outside forces (my hands) to find balance. My egg had no decision on how far I would lean it to the left or right to find its ultimate center. It was powerless to create it’s own balance therefore it never was able to truly balance.
This is how most of us (including myself) attempt to balance our life. My life is out of balance when there is too much or too little of something. Too much work, too much TV, not enough exercise, not enough sleep, ect. And while there is truth to this because we all need differing amounts of work vs. play in our life, we ultimately cannot embody this outward sense of balance (like the egg) until we first develop and practice an internal balance (like in yoga).
So what does internal balance look like?
Internal balancing is empowering. The arm balance I was doing in yoga was not a static balance and in fact, no internal balance ever is. As I was propped up on my hands I could feel things shifting as I did my best to battle gravity. I tilted to one side, correctly myself and then tilted to the other and continued to make adjustments in order to maintain my balance. My balance was a dynamic process that I calmly controlled, not my environment. This is internal balance. It is an understanding that the things that exist in our environment whether it is what people think or say about us or the unexpected events that suddenly pop up are out of our control. The only things we can really control are our own reactions and emotions. We get to decide if rush hour traffic is going to throw us off balance and make us feel angry and stressed out or not. It is our decision to make and not our surrounding environment. This is being mindful and this is internal balance.
I have thought of trying to balance an egg again. I have plenty in my fridge and it might be a fun activity to do with my son someday. But for right now I am sticking to the yoga and embracing the feeling of empowerment.