one of many amazing Cairns built by the multi-talented Eric on our labor day camping trip in West Virginia

Monday night and I am back to the mat.  Back to yoga.  As though she read my mind, as though she can look right into what I needed, my teacher says, “Tonight we are going to work on our balance”. 

As a former ballet dancer I should be masterful at the balancing poses.  But that was a long time ago and my body has shifted and changed.  Fighting the old body/muscle memory that is no longer relevant now that I have a bit of padding, now that my shape is decidedly more maternal, always means that the balancing poses are an exercise in “shift, adjust breathe….shift, adjust, breathe.” 

Monday my teacher threw in a doozy.  She had us get into Tree Pose facing the wall.  “Easy-peasy” I smuggly thought to myself.  I am always best able to find my balance facing the wall.  I can find a spot right in front of my nose and then just glare at it.  But then, my sweet teacher threw us for a loop.  She had us close our eyes.  I immediately lost all sense of balance.  I had to put my foot down, I had to open my eyes, I had to wiggle alot.  I fell out of the pose again and again.  Try as I might it all fell apart in the dark. 

Balance is a tricky thing.

I am working on finding balance in my life outside of yoga too.  I have the job, so big and wonderful it could take over ever minute of every hour if I let it.  I have the son with a heart and needs so big that he could take over every second of every day if he could.  I have the house which needs sweeping, decluttering, and fixing, the bills that need paying.  Oh and I have the things I like to do to make my heart breathe and sing, writing, practicing my guitar, sitting with a good friend and a cup of tea or glass of wine and telling stories.    The friends, the family, the loved ones who need bits of our time, the things we need and want to do to help build our community. 

Having all these things is a blessing, I know.But holding them all in the air without them tumbling down on my head is a challenge–a challenge that seems often impossible.  A challenge that seems as unlikely as balancing a heavy stone upright on a tiny tiny point.

Max is having a tough week.  I decide to focus on him.  Work is not getting enough time or attention, things fall through the cracks.  I shift, adjust, breathe…

I am working late, bringing work home, trying to catch up on or actually hit a deadline on time.  Max feels left out, he is crawling on my lap, he is hitting the delete key as I try and write and drawing all over my notes.  He is begging me to cuddle him, lay down with him, sing him a song, tell him a story.  I shift, adjust and breathe…

I am feeling so exhausted, so used up, so tired of being dutiful.  I schedule a series of mama’s nights out where I stay up late and dance.  Now I can barely keep my eyes open.

My search for balance often feels more like swinging on a pendulum than finding a resting point where all the impossibly heavy hangs perfectly in alignment.

The yoga teacher is not giving up on us–on this experiment.  Blinded by this exercise we fall out of poses again and again.  Without a reference point to gaze at, all of us, even the more accomplished students are struggling a bit.

She urges us to search within for the balance point, to find it not on the wall but inside.  She urges us to trust our inner knowing of our own body, what parts are heavier, what parts are lighter, where we are stronger and weaker and find the balance on our own.    To close our eyes and trust we will find it.  And then, after failed try after failed try I find it–there…I stay only a second or two but it is there however briefly.  I am an amazing tree, strong, upright and balanced.

I leave class vowing to take this lesson into my life.  To do more closing of my eyes and trusting that I can find it, the place where it all hangs together perfectly.  Yes, its true, I have that knowledge deep inside if I can only trust myself and listen long enough to hear it.

One Response to “Balance”

  1. Jena Strong Says:

    Meg –

    I’m teary reading your post (and the post you quote within it). It is like looking in a big, compassionate mirror. The work and the children and the home and the writing and the yoga and the singing heart, the friends and neighbors – a life brimming over. Lately I am feeling more precarious than ever in holding all of this in balance. Your writing reminds me how powerful even just a few moments of yoga are – of being, for even a few breaths, totally solid and present. And how desperately I’m in need of that these days.

    So thank you.

    xo Jena