I Rock

Stability. We need stability. We need stable ground to walk on, we need stable ground to build our homes on, solid footing to set the foundation upon. We need stability in our lives, too. We are all looking for something in our life, as solid as the earth, to root into. Something solid to build from. Even those of us who crave excitement, experiences and spontaneity require stability in our lives as an anchor point. When a bird takes flight, supported only by the current of the air, they light upon something that will support them. When a bird builds a nest, it chooses a place it is certain will support the weight of the nest, the nesting partner, the eggs, and, eventually, the fledglings. We are no different, we need something supportive to light upon, to nest upon, something we are certain is secure, stable and sound, and this is in a metaphorical sense as much as a tangible sense.

Do you recall the 6.9 magnitude Loma Prieta earthquake near San Francisco in October 1989? Perhaps not. But I felt that earthquake over eighty miles away in Sacramento. So much more destruction occurred to buildings in one area than in others, not because of the magnitude of the quake, but because that area of the city was developed on fill, on ground that was not as solid as it would seem. The very ground that supported the buildings in that area of destruction pretty much just turned to Jell-O. The buildings that were constructed on actual earth fared much better. An illustration of how important it is to have a solid base before you build, whether building buildings or building a life

The mistake people tend to make, the mistake most people make without exception, is that we try to anchor to something, or someone, that cannot or will not offer us the stability we desire. None of us are immune from this shortcoming, myself included. And I know better, I know so much better, and yet, here I am.

Sometimes, to understand stability, we have to have the rug pulled out from beneath us. In the past five years I have lost my home. Two, actually. I’ve ended my marriage of over twenty years. Both of my children have grown and left home. My father passed away. My life, still, is extremely uncertain and lacks any sense of permanence in almost every respect.  And with nearly every conversation I’ve had in the past week with family, friends and those I allow close to me, permanence seems even more illusive. And I am fine. Through all of this, I have learned that you need to find an inner strength as your anchor, to provide you with stability, because no one and no thing will ever provide you the solid ground you need to support yourself through life. Everything in your life can, and likely will, change, and not always for the better. And I’m a glass half full type of girl, but this is reality. The inner strength you draw from may be the only solid ground, the only rock, you can ever light upon after having to take flight. I am my own rock.

So, you need to find, within yourself, your own rock to cling to, to land upon, to build from. No matter what happens, then, you have that solid footing, and no one can take it from you. And still, we tend to want to find other rocks, rocks outside of ourselves. Knowing this, and having done, I think, an exemplary job drawing from my inner strength through it all, I still find myself groping for other rocks in an attempt to secure stability. This is a facet of human nature, and of self, that I struggle to understand, that I vow I will never again fall victim to, and, yet, here I am again. But I am my own rock.

Have you ever crossed a fast running, cold mountain stream during snowmelt? You seek to leave the solid pathway on which you stand and find a way across a tumultuous stream on uncertain footing before finally reaching solid ground on the other side. Perhaps there is a felled tree or a log fashioned into a bridge. It may be narrow, or wet and slippery, or not anchored well on one side or the other, but it provides something solid by which you may be able to cross the cold, rushing water. If not a log crossing, there may be a series of boulders in the water that you can use as stepping-stones to cross the raging waters. Personally, I prefer rock crossings to log crossings, any day. But even rock crossings are not without peril, often the rocks themselves are not solidly anchored in the streambed and wobble and topple when you put your weight on them. You learn to stand on the shore, from the highest vantage point your can find, and look for rocks that are large enough and solid enough to support your weight for a period of time, until you can progress to the next rock. You learn to step, apply some weight to ascertain the stability of the rock, then, if satisfied, you shift your entire weight onto it, landing safely for a moment, before identifying the next rock to step to, again, testing it first.

And, so it is with life. We may have that solid rock within from which we derive the strength and the power to get us through the challenges life will present us. Think of the challenges life presents like crossing a stream, having to step away from the solid ground, your internal rock of strength, and venture across a carefully chosen and perilous path, before you are again able to stand upon your own, solid rock. Some of us seek to cross these streams, some raging rivers, some babbling brooks. Others of us find our path in life puts us in a position where we have to cross the creek. Either way, the water must be crossed in order to continue on. Look for the right rocks to provide you a safe crossing, back to your own, strong internal rock of strength. Be your own rock.

What is your rock, your internal rock of strength? The type of rock that will anchor you in the worst of storms, one you can cling to when the waves are crashing hard and fast, one you can sit on as the flood waters rise, one you can use as a wind break in a storm, one you can bask in the sun on after a cold night. Your internal rock is made up of many things; things you can draw from in your journey through life. Your internal rock is made up of things you use for strength; your values, your guiding principles, your faith, your hope, your independence, your integrity, your commitment to self, your self-confidence, your motivation. You decide, but at a minimum, at the core of your rock, you need to know your values and your guiding principles, the rest will follow, the rest will just make your rock larger, providing you more solid ground to stand on. Be your own rock.

With such a formidable base to stand on, then, why do we seek to cling to other rocks? Again, a facet of human nature, or self, that I wish I understood. I have just caught myself jumping onto wobbly rocks in a perilous stream and wondering why I felt so off balance. Now that I have tested the rocks in the center of the stream, and I know they are not solid, I must decide whether to continue across this stream, or retreat to safety where I will cling, again, to my core, the solid rock within. I am my own rock.

What are your wobbly rocks? Have you identified them, or perhaps they will take you by surprise. Relationships? Career? Material possessions? Any of these can seem to provide you with the security and stability, the strength you need, and without warning, each and every one of these may wobble and spill you into the stream.

Relationships. How many friends have I heard tell me the same story? It’s like reading a book written by a very popular and prolific fiction author, it’s basically the same plot, the same story line, with a different geographical setting and slightly different characters. The story remains the same, like a template or a boilerplate.  “He cheated on me.” “She came home one day, handed me divorce papers and said it was over.” “I do love you, I’m just not sure I can do this.” “You’re great, it’s just me. “I just suck at relationships.” Sometimes after a month, or maybe thirty years, and we are always taken by surprise. Or are we? We didn’t see it coming. Or did we? The rock wobbled and ploink, in the cold water we go, to be swept downstream by the current, looking for something else, or someone else to grab on to. I’m not saying we should go through life lonely, that we should not dare to enter relationships, for there is much joy that comes from the loving another. But, in relationships, never anchor yourself to that other person to the point where you rely on them to fulfill you, to make you happy, or to support you. Don’t cling to that other person because you can’t imagine life without them, because you may have to some day. Be your own rock.

Career. Layoffs, downsizing, bankruptcy, consolidations and other business failures, rapidly advancing technologies, regulatory requirements.  In my career as an auditor I have to assess the risk of any or all of these, and a million more, as they pertain to the businesses I am auditing. If you think your position within a company is going to provide you with the strength and stability you require throughout life, you have been very, very, very lucky, and perhaps a bit ignorant, up to this point. Your career should be rewarding and fulfilling, but it should never be your cornerstone, your bedrock, because one little conference call, one little form letter, one little pink piece of paper and the rock has toppled and ploink, you’re in the cold, cold stream sputtering for breath. Be your own rock.

Material possessions. No matter how large or small, expensive or affordable, material possessions can never, ever provide us with the security we require. A turn in events, in the economy for example, can put you in peril of losing that which we most often identify as our most solid base; our house. Perhaps you seek self-expression and identity with the car you drive, or the clothes and shoes you wear, the boat, the motorcycle, the RV, the vacation home. All are great, but certainly are not the foundation on which your life should be based. One poorly timed lane merge, one freakish storm, one shorted wire can find you flailing your arms as you slip from that rock and ploink, into the river, swimming against the current to the shore for safety. Be your own rock.

Do you remember the story of the three little pigs? They had to go out into the world and build their own homes. The first pig built their home out of straw, the second out of sticks and the third from bricks, or stone. The first two pigs looked for the easiest building materials they could find, materials that would require the least amount of effort, and in both cases, their houses toppled. The third pig was very selective in his building material and applied considerably more effort in erecting his house. And it withstood. Build your house from stone. Be your own rock. And like the little pigs, when the unthinkable happens, you are safe and secure and you may even be able to provide strength and stability, temporarily, to those you know who are in need.

I was an Assistant Scoutmaster for a Boy Scout troop for many years, the only woman leader for most of the time. I was on a backpacking trek with a group of boys and men in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. We were training for an upcoming ten-day trek in New Mexico. I was new to backpacking, though I had hiked for many years. I was managing quite well though I had packed more in my pack than I needed, weighing it down much more than necessary, and I, myself, weighed about forty pounds more than I do now. I was able to keep up with the boys, the men were hiking behind me a good quarter mile, so I was pleased. It wasn’t cardio or endurance that was my issue, it was balance. We found a flat piece of ground to sleep on our second night out, it was across a stream and there was not a makeshift bridge made of a log, nor were there any rocks to use as stepping stones in order to cross. We were going to have to leap across the stream. The boys all bounded across without any trouble, leaping off of a large boulder on one side and landing on the bank on the other. My turn came. I stepped up onto the boulder and my full and over-packed pack shifted ever so slightly. In slow, slow, slow motion, I lost my balance. I was in a war with gravity for what seemed a full minute, I could feel the pack pulling me backwards and no matter how I tried to correct myself, I could feel myself tip further and further off center. In a second that seemed to last for hours, I was on my back, on my backpack, wedged helplessly between two boulders. Three men pulled me, and my pack, upright. I suffered no injuries other than a sound blow to my pride. I was relieved of my backpack and easily leapt across the creek, my pack was tossed across safely thereafter. I laughed the whole thing off, of course, and from this I started “the turtle club”, an exclusive club that only awarded membership to people who fell in some unceremonious and embarrassing manner. We ended up with several members over the course of the months that followed. So, I guess the lesson here is to be very careful when you select a rock to leap from, make sure you are well balanced, perhaps lighten your load, and be certain you aren’t overestimating your ability to land safely on the other side. Be your own rock.

I was also a Girl Scout leader for many, many years. My girls did not just sell cookies and burden their parents’ refrigerators with tacky arts and crafts projects, my girls hiked and biked and snowboarded and rode roller coasters and camped. And rock climbed. Some of the girls were attending the local council’s rock climbing camp and one of the activities was going to be rappelling into a cavern, which was a little troubling to a couple of girls, my daughter included. We were fortunate enough to have a very experienced rock climber among the group of parents involved with the troop and he volunteered to teach us to rappel down a cliff in a remote canyon in the Sierra Nevada foothills. I have always been a little nervous about heights and took advantage of this opportunity to confront my trepidation. If you have never rappelled off of a cliff, you should, with the proper instruction, supervision and equipment, of course. There is nothing quite like taking that first step off the ledge, walking backwards, focusing on the rope, the knot and the anchor as you descend. Will it hold? In rappelling, you hold your own rope, you lower yourself down at your own pace, you hold your fate in your own hands. And, really, life is no different. You hold your fate in your own hands and every day, you are stepping backwards off the cliff, rope in hand. And as you step bravely off that ledge, remember, your feet are solidly planted on rock, it is stable, and that’s all we want, that’s all we need. Be your own rock.

Let’s rock and roll, then. You absolutely need to build your own solid core, your internal rock, consisting of your core values and your guiding principles. Spend some time identifying these, like the third of the three little pigs and his wise and careful selection of building materials. Read books on the topic if you need guidance, but identifying your core values and guiding principles is the first, most critical step. In identifying your core values you are likely to determine that certain traits or characteristics are important to you, for example, health, fitness, independence, self-confidence. Add these to your rock, embody them, and draw from the strength they provide. Once you have your solid internal rock, nurture it, never let it crumble against the tide, against the current. That rock, that base, becomes your vantage point for identifying stones to test, to step upon, to cross any streams you may encounter.

Once we have identified our core values and our guiding principles, once we have that solid rock deep within, we are more capable of handling whatever the world throws at us. That rock, that base, will always be there. With a solid base, our own touchstone, if you will, we can actually explore options in life that we may never have had the courage or confidence to attempt before. Remember, that with every new experience, every new adventure, every fear faced, we become stronger, wiser and more confident. Our rock is fortified. I am my own rock. I rock. Be your own rock. Rock on.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ambience – The Hum and the Glow

am·bi·ent
/ˈambēənt/
Adjective
Of or relating to the immediate surroundings of something: “ambient noise”.

Have you ever noticed the ambient noise in a completely “quiet” house? With the television off, music off, no one else home, what do you hear? There is a humming. There are appliances running, heating and cooling systems, water heaters, any number of things just whirring away, and really, when you focus on it, making quite a lot of noise. The hum.

As an only child and a latchkey kid for much of my childhood, I remember doing this frequently. Sitting in an empty house and just listening. My dad was a hobbyist and loved old clocks, the tick tock clock variety, with the Westminster chimes every fifteen minutes. Our house is a split-level home, a ground level, a mid level a half a story up, then the upper level, a full story up. I remember sitting, often, on one of the stairs between the upper story and the middle level and just listening to all of the clocks ticking. A cacophony of ticking, like madness. Imagine the ruckus when all the chimes went off!

Last night, late, we had fairly high winds, and just before going to bed, the power went out. There are two things I love about power outages, lack of ambient noise and lack of ambient light. I relished lying in bed, in complete and total darkness and hearing only the wind in the tress outside. This spurred my thoughts on ambience, which rolled around in my head for the better part of the night, in the darkest dark as the wind whipped through the trees outside.

Having lived in a very remote country home, having backpacked in the wilderness extensively, again, there are things I adore about being far removed from civilization, temporarily; the sound of the wind, and nothing else and the darkness of the sky, except for the millions of stars. Have you ever been far enough away from the city to see the Milky Way in the sky? It is surprising how many people have never seen this wonder. Have you ever been out far enough in the countryside to be able to see the orange glow in the distance where the next town or city is located? This is light pollution from the ambient light of thousands of homes, cars, and businesses. The glow.

On a backpacking trek a few summers ago, I had the opportunity to tour a gold mine shaft with a group of people. One of the self-imposed limitations I have, and have made a concerted effort to overcome, is claustrophobia, or something like it. I fear being unable to escape, if my access to a clear exit path is blocked, I get a little panicky. Funny, isn’t it, that one of my major ruling assumptions is freedom, independence and autonomy? See any relationship there? I was in a narrow mine shaft with about a dozen or so other people, the guide, as she explained clearly beforehand, and I consented to, turned off her light and instructed us to turn off all of ours. We experienced a pitch-blackness so complete I can’t even begin to describe it, I could feel it more than see it, it was oppressive, it felt heavy, weighted. In this complete absence of any light, ambient or otherwise, we had to place our hand on the shoulder of the person in front of us and walk forward in an attempt to follow each other out of the mineshaft in total darkness. It was extremely disorienting, our balance was compromised completely and it was easy to become disconnected with the person in front of you, leaving you hopeless and helpless in the dark. It was impossible to successfully navigate towards the exit and to the relief of daylight. The guide then had us place our other hand out so we could feel the wall, still holding onto the shoulders of those ahead of us. With the assistance of the sometimes slimy wall, we were better able to balance and navigate our way back to light. I will never forget that darkness, that total absence of ambient light!

Isn’t it interesting how what we don’t really notice, ambient noise and ambient light, can actually be so significant in our lives?

An article in Scientific American summarizes a study performed by OSHA on the stress related hazards related to low-level ambient noise. Stress-related conditions, such as high blood pressure, coronary disease, peptic ulcers and migraine headaches could increase as a result of the measurable stress caused by ambient noise in the home and at the work place. Among other things, ambient noise has been associated with the release of cortisol, the hormone that is released in the body after a “bad experience”. The release of cortisol, at a minimum, can impact our ability to plan, reason and manage our impulse control.

A couple of years ago I read about a study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute linking ambient light to increased risk for breast cancer. Other similar studies noted increased rates of ovarian cancer in women who worked night shifts, and so, were sleeping in daylight or in near daylight conditions. The studies hypothesized that our hormones (melatonin release) are linked to the natural patterns of light and dark in nature. When that natural pattern is disrupted with unnatural, ambient light, when it should be dark, our hormones don’t behave normally and this increases the risk of cancer.

Things that are ambient, that we really don’t normally pay attention to, can actually impact us in very major ways. Ambient light, ambient noise, ambient temperature all relate to our immediate surroundings, our environment. From this, comes the word ambience.

am·bi·ence
/ˈambēəns/
Noun
1. The character and atmosphere of a place.

To me, ambient light and ambient noise are subtle, unnoticeable and sometimes beyond our complete control. Unless we focus on them, we usually don’t even notice them. Ambience, on the other hand, I think of as being manipulated or contrived, something we are in complete or near complete control of, something we create, with intention.

The ambience of a restaurant is often referred to in its write up or in patron reviews. The ambience of a setting often dictates that expectation of our activity; a loud raucous bar with a group of friends out for a good time, a quiet, candlelit, corner table in a dark quiet bistro for a romantic evening.

I try to control ambient things, light and noise, to the degree I can for the benefit of my long-term health. I am, at the very least, more aware of ambient noise and ambient light and seek to mitigate their effects in my life. I also deliberately manipulate the ambience of my settings for a variety of reasons.

We’ve already touched on sleep and how ambient light can disrupt its benefits. The power of restorative sleep, absent of ambient noise and unnatural, ambient light, energizes, heals, and can actually restore youth by promoting the natural and beneficial release of HGH, human growth hormone. Creating an ambience for restful, restorative sleep can also help in your effort to evolve by increasing the healthful benefits of sleep that nature intended for us. I know, for me, I find that small sources of ambient noise and light disturb me. Perhaps more so having read up on the potential hazards associated with each of these. But if I am trying to drop off to sleep and I can hear the television downstairs, I find before long, that’s all I can hear. Like the cliché dripping faucet we see in movies, stories and cartoons! If my iPhone screen illuminates it is nearly blinding! Even the little flashing light on the front of my closed MacBook becomes a glaring beacon over the course of the night, enough to disrupt me from sleep. So, I seek to remove all of these things from my sleeping environment, I create an ambience for restful, restorative sleep.

I seek to control my ambience when dining; I make eating a special event, every meal. I set the table nicely and use nice dishes rather than the food packaging to serve my meals. I try to prepare meals that are pleasing not only to eat, but to look at as well. I am so proud of how my meals look, I actually take pictures of them for my food journal! I also tune out distractions while I eat and actually focus on my food and the simple pleasure of eating, the tastes and the textures of the food. I do not read or watch TV while eating, I avoid texting, working or social networking, and just focus on enjoying my food. Focusing on your food, on the act of eating, is proven to reduce the amount of food you consume. When you focus on what you eat, and enjoy the experience, you find satisfaction in a single portion rather than mindlessly eating two or three helpings. Distraction while dining is extremely detrimental to our diet.

Consider the ambience for sex; imagine a romantic room with a lovely bed, candles, flowers, music, chocolate would be nice, too, an inviting environment, rather than making do, so to speak, on a long unmade bed of mismatched sheets, with piles of dirty clothes all around and the dog watching from nearby. I read a fascinating and entertaining book last year, Veronica Monet’s “Sex Secrets of Escorts: What Men Really Want”. She had a great deal to say about the ambience for good sex that made a great deal of good sense.

In our efforts to evolve, to improve ourselves, it is important to consider our surroundings, our setting, our ambience and what is ambient. We need to consider deliberately creating an ambience, or an environment, for self-improvement, self-development, and evolution. We need to find a way to sit in the silence, in the dark, figuratively, and think, without anything ambient to distract us. We need to tune out the ambient noise that influences our lives much like the sound of the highway a few blocks away influences our sleep. The hum. We need to remove ourselves from distractions in our lives, like we do flashing lights while we sleep. The glow.

In our lives, in order to truly find our purpose, our direction, ourselves, we need to find a way to tune out the hum and the glow, the ambient noise; people who influence us, the media, etc. We need to think independently, in the solitary, quiet ambience of our own being, what matters to us, what are our guiding principles, even if they differ from those of people close to us, what do we really believe as individuals? There is always noise around us; the opinions of others, the strong beliefs of those we love, that may, in fact, be different from what we truly believe if we could just be quiet long enough to think about it. Ambient noise. Ambient light are other influential distractions like the media, the press, the entertainment industry, news talk radio, the clergy, business, our employers even, academia. They are all suggesting not just verbally, but visually, how we should think, feel, vote, act. Stop. Tune it out, find a peaceful, comfortable ambience, away from the hum and the glow. Think about it, apply logic. How do YOU really feel when you are away from the hum and the glow? This is where you will find your guiding principles, these are your core values. Cherish them, honor them, live by them, but first, you must know them.

Become aware of the hum and the glow.

Strength and Balance

What does strength have to do with balance? Everything!

Try this; looking straight ahead, standing, draw one foot up so you are standing on the other foot. Don’t hold onto anything for support. Now count. How long can you hold it without touching the floor with your other foot or without grabbing onto something for balance?

If you practice yoga or Pilates or do a significant amount of core strength exercises, I’m sure you were able to balance on one foot for quite a while longer than you were able to before your practice. Yoga, Pilates and core strength exercises build the strength, the core strength we need, to simply balance.

Elderly people that you see wobbling and tottering about as they walk through the grocery store have lost a lot of that core strength required to help them keep their balance. This is why elderly people are so prone to falling. For those of you who practice yoga, Pilates or core strength training, just how many elderly people do you see in your classes? Few, if any. And for those few, I’m guessing they stand more solidly and walk with more stability than those who don’t.

When was the last time you walked on a curb in a parking lot like you would a balance beam in gymnastics? Not since you were a kid? I do. I do, every time I am met with the opportunity. I will even do so carrying a grocery bag, or two, and my ridiculously large purse. Balance is very important, now, and as we grow older. And balance requires significant core strength.

When did I come to realize this? No one ever told me that balance was improved with improved core strength. I found out when I went on my first ten-day backpacking trip as part of the leadership team for a Boy Scout adventure. I was cardiovascularly fit enough to go on the trip, even though I was dangerously close to the upper weight limit for a woman my height and age.

I hiked and backpacked with the group who would be participating in this great adventure to gain experience and to be comfortable with the group and with my equipment. On one training hike, we decided to camp overnight just on the other side of a stream. There was no bridge, and so, to get to the other side of the stream, we had to leap a few feet, just further than we could step. The first man leapt easily across with his full pack strapped to his back. The next man just as easily. And the next. I was the only woman. I stepped up onto the rock we were to leap from, with my full pack strapped to my back. I could feel that I was losing my balance and I frantically waved my arms in an attempt to regain it. I fell, pack first, and was wedged in the most embarrassing position possible, between two large boulders. It took three men to right me. I was relieved of my pack and I managed to leap across the cold, fast moving water. Almost. Luckily I had waterproof boots on. I was the charter member of what I called “the turtle club”. Anyone who fell for any reason on any trek thereafter joined me in membership. We have three members.

With the training hikes behind me, the actual ten-day backpacking adventure was upon us. I was a bit nervous. Really nervous. We hiked nearly seventy five miles in those ten days. It was a particularly wet, rainy summer in New Mexico and the creeks and streams were all full. Many of the trails we needed to traverse crossed cold, swift water. Sometimes multiple times. On one very rainy day, in a very steep canyon, we crossed on stream thirty eight times. To cross the streams, there were “bridges” that were crafted from a single, split log somewhere between six and twelve inches wide. With all the rain, these log bridges were incredibly slippery, in spite of the hashmarks hacked into the wood with an ax. I was a nervous wreck, but, somehow, guts, I think, in spite of my size and lack of core strength, I made it across all the log crossings without incident.

A couple of years later, I returned to New Mexico for another ten-day backpacking trek. I was even more cardiovascularly fit, and had trained primarily hiking up and down very steep hills. It was a much drier year, and there were very few slippery log water crossings, I was still nervous and felt incredibly at risk for falling, in spite of my improved physical condition. Luckily, again, no turtle club incident.

The third time I returned to New Mexico for a ten-day backpacking trip, I was at the extreme lower weight range for my age, gender and height. In addition to intense cardio training, I incorporated yoga and core strength training. Slippery log crossings and precarious leaps across voids presented no trouble whatsoever. I was in far better command of my balance. Primarily because of the strength training I incorporated, though I’m sure the significant loss of weight makes both strength training and balance an easier road to hoe.

Now, let’s talk about something other than backpacking and the turtle club. Balance. Not in the sense of standing on one foot without support, or tottering, wobbly elderly people, or crossing slippery log bridges over cold, raging creeks. What of balance in life?

Balance in life is, first of all, quite complex, and secondly, very personal, being unique to each of us for our own reasons and circumstances. But, in short, it is the ability to identify and focus on those things we consider important in our lives, afford them each their proper due, their proper energy and priority, and to be able to maintain that focus, energy and priority with shifting and changing circumstances. Like leaping across a creek with a full backpack strapped to your back or crossing a raging, cold creek on a skinny, slippery log, takes a great deal of strength, concentration and, well, guts.

How do we gain the inner strength to achieve balance in our lives? Believe it or not, yoga may again provide some help, but only in that it is a contemplative and meditative endeavor. Not just good for the body and for your core strength, but good for your mind and your mental strength.

The strength we need to achieve to become more balanced in life will first of all require us to exercise, much like we would to be able to balance on one foot unsupported or while walking along a curb or balance beam. We need to exercise self discovery, we need to exercise our ability to shift our focus with changes that occur in our lives, both short term and long term. We need to know what we stand for, before we can practice standing on, we need to know our own, personal core values in order to establish and adjust or focus, and to prioritize what’s important right now.

Like balancing in tree pose, life balance takes a great deal of regular practice and is something we are never truly perfect at. Why is yoga not an Olympic sport? There is no perfection, no perfect 10.0 score. Yoga is a personal journey, a practice. There is never a “perfect” in yoga, there is always room for improvement. The same is true with our practice in life balance, it is a very personal journey, and a continual process. The core values we have this year, may be different next year as circumstances in our lives change. Our ability to have clarity and focus to afford each core value it’s appropriate amount of energy is a practice that must be exercised constantly. Or lost. Like our ability to balance while walking on a curb in the parking lot at the grocery store, bags in hand.

My challenge to you, a double scoop of challenge. Acquire strength. Learn balance. Both physically and metaphorically. Find ways to practice both, regularly, if not daily, and I promise you, even in your golden years, you’ll be able to keep upright in the slipperiest of conditions, and you’ll have the inner peace and tranquility afforded only those few that know what balance in life is, and how to achieve it.

Namaste.