How much balance are you experiencing right now?

What does that word mean to you?

This is an idea explored a lot in productivity and personal development literature. But it strikes me as a bit of a misleading one. Often containing idealised and unrealistic assertions about the possibilities for our lives. Usually underpinned by the idea that if we get things sorted in the right way we can experience balance.

And then there are the subversive voices which reject the idea that life-balance is even possible.

Balance becomes slippery the moment you try to grasp it. Like the soap bars of happiness and love. When you think about it too much you lose it.

Building Balance

Learning to Walk

When a baby becomes a toddler and learns to take its first steps she is working out how to balance while falling forwards. Over time the balance strengthens and the walking becomes more secure and steady. But for a long time a toddler toddles on unsteady yet purposeful feet. Their brain and body might not align properly as they go wandering off in the opposite direction of where they want to go.

Toddling is a key part of learning to walk. It’s establishing balance when standing on two feet and moving forwards. A baby doesn’t just suddenly wake up, stand up, and swagger around. It takes a lot of time. A lot of falling. And a lot of determination and persistence.

Be a Toddler

We are all toddlers when it comes to balance in life. We think we should be able to balance everything from the word go. And when we fall or drop stuff, we think we’ve failed. We compare where we are in relation to others and beat ourselves up when we don’t match up.

The Hull

What we perceive as balance is what we see others are able to hold. We expect to be able to juggle multiple commitments and priorities. Yet when we start here we neglect the most important part of balance, which is the foundation, grounding, footing, beneath the surface of what is seen.

Many conversations about work-life balance focus above the waistline. How do I keep hold of all these things I need to do without burning out?

Meanwhile, we’re walking on unsteady legs, across uneven, potholed terrain. And we trip up. Literally. Because we expect too much of ourselves when we haven’t sorted out the footing and balance at the base of our lives.

We are distracted by how things appear. How we might be perceived. What people might think of us if we present ourselves in the right kind of way. So we build what can be seen. We build what we see other people have. And forget to build in the necessary ballast in the hull of our being.

We don’t spend time growing our roots and firming our footing. And then in the face of the slightest breeze, we are struck off balance and called to spend time steadying the ship, readjusting, and if things get really bad, swimming for our lives under the weight of a capsized vessel.

Rhythm and Balance

This kind of balance starts when we understand rhythm. Rhythm is balance. When playing the drums, it is about maintaining balance and posture from the core of your being so that your body becomes the metronome through which a rhythm is expressed.

Everything remains underpinned by rhythm. For if you try to dance out of sync with the rhythm you lose balance. And if you only focus on the moves you need to make, you will lose step with the rhythm because you’re not hearing it. Things become messy, confused and meaningless. For a dance only carries meaning in the context of the rhythm.

This is the same with life. The dance turns to chaos when we lose our rhythm. When we’re concentrating so hard on getting things done, fulfilling commitments, and going through the motions, that we completely overlook any sense of rhythm that provides the meaning and context for why the dance matters in the first place.

Balance and Growth

We often expect so much of ourselves. We concentrate so hard on the idea that we need balance, that we stop hearing the rhythm. When I used to teach drums one of the things I noticed from time to time with my students was the harder they tried to get it right the more they struggled. When becoming focussed on doing it right they stopped feeling the rhythm, and an inner battle would commence.

I’ve noticed the exact same thing in my coaching work. As humans we love to put pressure on ourselves, beat ourselves up, and get stressed because we’re not doing things right. And yet, the reason we struggle is often because we need to just relax. To reconnect with the rhythm. The reason. The feeling. The pulse at the heart of things. Balance comes when we listen to that rhythm and start tapping our foot, nodding our head, and allowing that beat to enter our being. Life is our dance to that rhythm. Balance is the rhythm of our dance.

Over to You

Where are you resisting the rhythm in your life right now? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic! Leave your response in the comments.

Listen to The Gentle Rebel (Extended Play) Private Podcast:

Deliberately Losing Your Balance

If you like this topic and want to hear more of my (more personal) thoughts and reflections, you can subscribe to the bonus podcast right now, through Patreon

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