“We learn by practice. Whether it means to learn to dance by practicing dancing or to learn to live by practicing living, the principles are the same. One becomes in some area an athlete of God.” Martha Graham
Awakening To Balance the Mind And Body
Finding balance was one of the great gifts I received from studying modern dance for many years. Imagine, balancing on the toes of one foot, your spine stretching to its full length, your energy flowing from your pelvis, reaching down into the earth and upward to the sky, a perfectly balanced tension.
To find balance requires strength, practicing pliés (knee bends) and relevés(balancing on the ball of the foot) daily for years until one day, it is easy and one rises miraculously into a moment of perfect balance.
I learned early that in order to perform a movement well, my mind and body had to work together. This was long before I learned to meditate, so I didn’t’ have the advantage of knowing how to center my mind. At first, when I tried to balance, I concentrated on contracting the right muscles in order to balance on my toes or one foot. Then one day, I heard a teacher say, “Stretch, stretch your spine, stretch toward the ceiling, stretch out of the floor.” I got it – balance was about expansion, not contraction.
We Need A Strong Spiritual Core For Life
Balancing requires stretching and strengthening. In traditional modern dance, all movement is motivated from the center of the body, the pelvis. Dancers need a strong core or else we find ourselves foundering, too weak to control leg and arm movement or unable to control our movement as we move out into space. The same is true in life. We need a strong, core spiritual belief that guides us. We may believe that we are all One or we live from a spirit of Love that connects us to others in a meaningful way. Whatever this belief is, when it resides at the center of our lives, it comforts and guides our actions and choices, acting as the core that holds the rest of our lives together.
Balance Opens Us To Wisdom
We also need a balance between the mind, body, emotions and soul. If we can see the world only in emotional or rational terms, we have a limited awareness and may not be able to see the whole picture in a situation. As we stretch, we allow the mind to open, expand, and move into new space. We consider the possibility that ideas we have previously rejected may have value. We learn to listen to another’s truth considering the possibility we may learn from them. We learn to corral the part of our unruly ego that wants to reject whatever is not known and comfortable.
With balance comes wisdom, for balance teaches us to sit in the midst of chaos and remain centered. When we feel balanced, we may choose not to respond to conflict. We may choose to take a few deep breaths rather than honk our horn at the slowly moving person in front of us in traffic. We may be able to stop ourselves from rushing out the door to a meeting when our child needs us to sit and listen. When we are balanced, we are more aware. We are living in that perfect tension between earth and sky. We are an “athlete of God.”
© 2011 Georganne Spruce