A balance beam is only four inches wide. This was my favorite apparatus in gymnastics when I was younger. With the right strength, strategy and grace, cartwheels and back tucks off the end of it felt empowering. A challenge I loved to conquer, even though falling face first was a possibility….and happened many times. Or the ever-lovely straddling of the beam. I guess you could say the balance beam would be my life analogy versus a box of chocolates per Forest Gump.
Over the past two years, I have continued learning balance between my body, heart and mind. With my body going haywire, it has been experimental to figure out what activities will best support it or what techniques for detoxification could be beneficial. One of the first things that happened to me shortly after feeling the effects of toxicity was a break-up. Here I realized on a deeper level what kind of relationships I was surrounding myself with and how I was involving my heart with people that couldn’t support me in the ways I needed. Mental self-care also became a priority to prevent high stress levels from further adding to the strain my body was under.
Balance was not easy. Some days I felt like I could hold the splits on that beam of life and other days I felt like I split the beam, spun around it and fell on my face, too. My supplements were so trial and error that some days I felt on top of the world and others I wanted to curl in a ball on the couch. I had to realize although movement was important to me and played a big role in my life, that there was a light at the end of the tunnel and the only option was to keep going. Movement didn’t have to mean an hour-long boot camp. I learned to appreciate myself for what I could do, even if that meant a 20-minute walk. I came to understand the focus I had on working out was more on the outside and taking time to get in tune with my body started connecting me to the what it may have needed inside each day rather than what I expected it to do.
Self-care was difficult in the sense that I was so used to rushing around like the rest of society, that not only did I feel wrong by prioritizing myself, but I felt misunderstood since I wasn’t the only one that felt that way. This also affected my relationships as people became confused by my reasoning in doing things. I also experienced days where I could not handle life on my own and had to ask others for help. Saying I am stubbornly independent is an understatement and reaching out for support felt uncomfortably vulnerable. I would also go into hermit mode at other times because I became so focused on getting better as I had so many appointments and was often down in the dumps while everything often felt out of control.
With all these things I needed to keep up with, I realized how important my happiness was at the same time. Of course, some of that was tied to health, but isolating myself more by not communicating what I needed and keeping myself at home was no way to further my improvement. Our quality of life effects our health too, so it’s important to know how much time we need alone but also how to pull ourselves up and show both ourselves and the people we care about what they mean to us in spending quality time together. It’s also vital to find a balance in self-care practices and the check list we have each day. What does your body need? What about your heart? Did you have a chance to calm your mind today or reach out to the people you care about?
It can become easy to push away the people we care about when we are frustrated with what’s going on around us or afraid to be vulnerable, or even putting off that weekend party because we feel like we absolutely must get some work done. Usually fears and excuses are a symbol of what we need more of. What happens if we allow ourselves even an hour to be happy and do something we love? More times than not, it gives us an increase in energy to complete the things we consider necessary. Or maybe we should consider these things necessary? I have learned so much from this experience. Whether it be ways I need to communicate more effectively, juggle my time better and allowing myself more fun or taking opportunities to look inside and decide what my body needs today, I feel much more balanced and at peace with the flow of life. It’s quite possible I have enough of my body back to even cartwheel on a balance beam again, without falling off. Which aspects of your life could use some balancing? How you can you best support yourself and the people you care about in doing so?