Lately I find myself having an allergic reaction when I hear people speaking or read articles about wanting to have balance in their lives. Much of it, based on what I’ve read, is about aspiring for balance as a fixed state; with things having the proper amount of importance or attention.
Maybe it’s because of my ballet training that balance for me, from my own life and experience, is about movement and tension. How do you keep your balance when you’re standing on your toes in pointe shoes? You move! If you stop moving, you fall over. My instructor would always say, although others will not notice you moving, you have to feel as if you are moving, as a if a string is continuously pulling you up and those micro movements, the tension you feel will let you keep your balance. In yoga, it’s the same – when you hold a pose, you are still moving. In fact, it’s the tension you experience in your muscles and the will to keep pushing yourself harder that lets you balance and not fall out of your pose. Same thing if you are doing training in the gym; if you’re weight training and your technique isn’t correct or you’re just throwing your arms/legs around, you won’t build muscle. You’ll only build muscle when there is tension.
In fact this continuous tension and movement is what allows you to not be knocked off your balance. If someone tries to push you, because you are not fixed, you can respond without being knocked off your feet. Buildings that are constructed in countries where there are a lot of earthquakes are flexible; they don’t fall down because they can respond to the shocks. If they were fixed, they’d be a lot less resilient and far more easily knocked down.
And it’s not just about not being knocked down; it’s also about achievement. Without tension in your muscles, you wouldn’t become stronger. Without tension and movement in our lives, we just stay in the same place, doing the same things. Tension & contradiction fuels creativity; it allows us to learn new things and to grow.
I think shifting how we understand balance from a fixed state that we aim to permanently maintain, to an act of continuous tension & movement, we’re more resilient, better able to balance and keep growing.