Balance has been one of the things that has eluded me in different ways throughout my adult life, whether it be physically or spiritually. The pendulum swings in different directions, with the emphasis on one specific area at any one given time.
Yoga has been one of the things that has brought this front and centre for me and has made me to start to look at it in a little more detail. When I started to practice yoga I literally could not balance. Whilst my strength and flexibility improved throughout the rest of my practice, I struggled to see improvement when it came to balance for a long time. The shift happened just recently, when suddenly I realised that my intense wobbles had begun to subside, and that the hard fought battle I have been fighting to find my balance has almost been won.
What changed? In yogic terms, that took the form of deep core training, and learning to lift my core from it’s very root at my pelvic floor, to stabilise the rest of my being. From the point of awareness, its taken me 12 months to really see a shift, 12 months to start to feel the benefit of this new focus and training.
This got me to thinking about balance more generally, and how actually, more often than not, it’s something that can’t be achieved overnight. We have to put in the ‘core’ work, to create the stability at the roots that we need to be able to grow.
Another example of this would be in terms of my relationship with work. When you love your job and want to do the very best you can at something, it is very easy to give all of yourself to it. In my first year at Shazam, I was guilty of that very thing. I gave so much of myself to my work, that I left no space for anything or anyone else, least of all me. I lost my balance.
Just like the core work in yoga, I needed to train myself over time to put the boundaries in place that meant I was able to achieve balance. Simple measures like; not arranging calls after a certain time of day and being prepared to leave things to be completed tomorrow. Though both of those took some fairly significant mental shifts within me; I had to address my desire to be perfect, and to do perfect work, my desire not to let people down, my desire to be perceived in the best possible light always.
How did I do that? By a lot of study of self, discussion with others in the form of coaching support, and also reading. The feelings don’t go away – I will always be a perfectionist – but I am now able to rationalise them and let them go when they appear. I am now able to be good enough, and not strive for the impossible bar of perfection, or at least what I perceive that to be.
Another example of losing balance would be my love of music. This love saw me at one time, attending up to three gigs a week. I lost my balance. I had allowed myself to be caught up in something that, rather than enriching me, had begun to deplete me. The greedy lust for new experiences, the rush of new music. I was exhausted.
The step change there came in the form of learning to say no. To me as much as everyone else – actually probably even more so. That change took a similar form to the one described above, my connecting to myself and putting better parameters in place. Sure enough, over time I have got much better at saying no.
I now stick to a bedtime that supports me, supports my early rises and creates the space in my world instead for things that enable me to grow; creating time for reading being one of them. I still go to gigs. I just make sure they are the ones I really want to see, and that I am not just there because I don’t want to miss out on something.
Balance isn’t about being perfect, or being hard on ourselves when we notice things are a little off. It’s just about being prepared to have an honest dialogue with ourselves, and do the ‘deep core’ work if there’s an area that needs some special attention.
My balance in yoga still is far from perfect, but that’s kind of the point, we don’t need to be perfect. Balance isn’t something fixed, it’s alive, just like we are. It’s something that’s ever fluid and evolving. We just need to be prepared to alter the weight on the scales when we feel ourselves dipping too deeply in one direction.
Navigating these little battles is just another part of being truly alive, and a beautiful part at that. As is embracing yourself as the perfectly imperfect human you truly are. For that’s been one of the most important things I have ever done.