Experiments with Balance
Balance is …
… an ode to stillness sung by all the movement it took to get there
… the sea of patience that goes into creating one exquisite wave
… the fork in the road that is its own destination
… an intimacy with the moment, and nothing but the moment
… the rock at the edge of a cliff, where the rock knows just how far to peek over at the ocean and still be part of the cliff
As it turns out, I’ve been wondering about balance. Not just mentally, but with muscle, bone and breath.
What is it about balance that makes all the Asanas wrap themselves around it? Even Savasana, that much awaited dessert at the end of a fulfilling hour of Asana, asks one to stay perched on the line between awake and asleep, alertness and relaxation.
The ‘Hatha’ in Hatha Yoga is itself a nod to balance. Between the feminine and the masculine, the moon and the sun, the pingala and the ida. And my favourite Yoga Sutra (of the few I’ve ventured into) Sthiram Sukham Asanam is as succinct a statement of balance as can be. (More on that in another blogpost)
For many, a balancing Asana (a.k.a every Asana) is their first witnessing of the mind’s monkeyness. The first time they turn their attention to the fact that their attention doesn’t stay put for more than a few seconds. ‘Drunken monkey stung by a scorpion’ (as some Zen monks put it) starts to seem a conservative description of the mind.
How do I balance?
A question I often meet in classes filled with various stages of earnest wobbling into the present. While I can offer pointers like rooting through the foot, engaging the centre, reaching up through the crown of the head, fixing the gaze, stepping off a springy mat, and so on, these are technicalities. The actual lived experience of balance is each person’s own discovery in the unique laboratory of their own being. Techniques can be borrowed from everywhere, but that moment of balance is all your own miracle. Be sure to savour it.
From my own experiments, the biggest door to balance I’ve opened for myself is to practice observing myself instead of judging. And – who would’ve guessed – even extending the same courtesy to others every now and then. I definitely feel lighter and find my breath and body more conducive to mid-air peace on days when I walk onto my Yoga mat with that curious-humble-observer attitude.
No matter how often in the past you’ve ‘found’ your balance in a pose – or not – each time you approach it you’re walking into a different river, singing a different song. Finding and losing and finding again. A Lost & Found department where surprise is the only constant and permanence a delusion not worth entertaining.
Your body, that dynamic entity in an ever-changing environment, is as much a verb as a noun. Perhaps far more verb than noun, much like balance. The noun may sound like a great place to land, but the verb is where all the action is.
If nature is anything to go by, balance is an exploration not a discovery, a dance not a destination. Not an accomplishment you tick off, but a flow you surrender into. Again and again, as many times as it takes. Like those vertical waters in the backdrop, always shooting for a sky they know they may never touch.
Where can one meet balance?
My guess is that balance isn’t as elusive as its reputation might suggest. In our own practice and in our lives, we have frequent close calls with it – if only we’d slow down enough to acknowledge them. We cross paths with it at several pit-stops, between trial and error, information and intuition, doubt and certainty, attention and distraction, control and letting go, acceptance and expectation, chasing and inviting, inhale and exhale. The next time your paths cross, I hope you stop for the experience 🙂
That moment when you occupy the Here and the Now, the Her and the Him, and as the song goes – nothing else matters.
And finally balance is a conversation, not a verdict. Let me know in the comments about your experiments with balance 😊