"So be sure when you step, Step with care and great tact.
And remember that life's A Great Balancing Act." ~ Dr. Seuss
At Christmas last year, I received a wonderful gift that had been on my “wish-list” for some time. It was a balance board. If you haven’t ever seen or tried one out, it is a simple device, but not as easy to master as one might think. It is a short, rectangular board with a non-slip surface on top. On the bottom are strips of wood that create a groove which fits onto a round cylinder that is placed below it. Imagine a plank laid on top of a barrel.
The challenge of a balance board, of course, is to position yourself with your feet at each end of the board, and then achieve balance. A first attempt often looks like this: You step on one end, and the minute you try to get into position, the board flips like a wild seesaw. You, or the cylinder, are likely to go flying. If you read the directions, you hopefully took precautions!
With practice, it becomes easier to balance, and there is a certain satisfaction that comes. You can never be complacent, though. As you “balance”, you are actively managing lots of different variables simultaneously. The balance board, in addition to building balance and coordination, works lots of core muscles too. The minute you stop paying attention, you are in for a quick dismount!
As I’ve enjoyed this new activity, I’ve had time to reflect on what “balance” really is. It is interesting, I think, that many of us think of “balance” as a static process. Physics teaches us that bodies in motion tend to stay in motion, and bodies at rest, tend to stay at rest. From the time that we are children and are learning how to position our building blocks to build a tower, we tend to expect things to “stay” where we put them.
The balance board gives a more realistic picture of what balance really requires. Balance is a dynamic process that requires intention and attention. It doesn’t “stay” unless we work at it.
Our lives are much the same way. For example, many of us aspire to balance our professional and personal lives in ways that honor all of our values. At the same time, conditions in our home and work lives are constantly changing and requiring us to re-evaluate how to maintain this balance. This, too, requires intention and attention.
The concept of balance is important in my work as an Integrative Health Coach. In that work, I use a model developed by Duke Integrative Medicine that is called “The Wheel of Health”. This model identifies seven different areas of self-care that make up the “spokes” of the wheel. As you can imagine, when one or more areas in a client’s life is out of balance, it can affect the whole “wheel”. By helping clients identify and address the areas that aren’t in line with their values, they are able to restore a sense of wholeness and balance in their health and well-being.
Where are you looking for balance in your life? Wherever that is, I wish you well!