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You have to be willing to wobble

By Frode Inge Helland [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Image by Frode Inge Helland [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Someone clever once said that “fear is excitement without the breath” (either Fritz Perls or Robert Heller, according to Google).

There’s a lot of truth to that statement — and I’ve spent a lot of time in the past week in that place, suspended between terror and exhilaration as I begin the process of finally, officially launching my coaching practice.

Which is to say that it’s been a great week. It’s also been a hard week, and in many ways an exhausting and stressful week.

For reasons which also have to do with things besides launching my coaching business, I’ve been living on the ragged edge of excitement.

I notice in myself the urge to flee the discomfort of standing balanced on the knife edge between fear and excitement.

I notice the urge to stop breathing, to hold tight to the breath I have as I power through and through and through until I reach the end of this discomfort.

Until I break free into the light.

But there is a wiser part of me that knows that this discomfort won’t pass quickly — that I will have to learn to breathe, to find my balance in this delicate place.

What I am trying hard to remember is that balance is an act of movement.

We think of balance as a moment of perfect poise, a place of stability — and this does occasionally happen momentarily when we balance. But what thirteen years of ballet taught me, is that real balance is a hundred million tiny adjustments as one tips left, right, front, and back. The wobble is an essential part of any balancing act.

True balance has more to do with allowing the wobble, than achieving a perfect, motionless moment.

Anxious. Happy. Scared. Delighted. Thrilled. Restless. Exhausted. Resting.

I’ve been wobbling all week, but I haven’t collapsed out of balance. I’ve just been teetering, teetering, teetering…

It would be easy to forget that this is what an act of balance looks like.

It would be easy to call my week of teetering “failure” and to tell myself that I should be managing to live my life more gracefully. But I think we do ourselves a disservice when we forget the the balancing is in the wobble.

In fact, the best way to guarantee you’ll fall out of your arabesque is to be unwilling to wobble.

The best way to fall out of balance is to hold tight, to stop breathing and tense up. We think that rigidity equals stability but in fact the opposite is true.

In trying to achieve that moment of perfect stillness, we lose the loose the willingness to wobble that is, paradoxically, the very foundation of our stability.

So if you, too, are struggling to maintain balance in the face of it all I’d like to invite you to notice your own willingness to wobble.

And if balance is feeling elusive, here are a few things that might help.

  1. Remember to breathe. It can be easy to think that holding onto the breath will increase stability, but in truth this never works. You can’t balance if you’re rigid. When you are truly balanced the balance moves with the breath — the breath becomes the rhythm that settles you toward stillness.
  2. Keep your focus. It’s much harder to balance if you don’t keep your gaze softly focused on a target. If you feel yourself beginning to topple, resist the urge to look wildly around for a way to save yourself! Remain calm. Remain focused. Breathe. You might need to set an intention to keep you focused in the right direction.
  3. Practice. You’re going to wobble. You’re going to fall off balance. The important thing to remember is that this is a part of the process… and that you’re going to get better with practice.

Much love,