The other day, I was doing my daily yoga. (If you didn’t know, I am a passionate yogi.) I was having a tough day, not because of anything in particular, but because life can drown you sometimes.
You see, I’m the kind of person who is always thinking about at least three things: what I should be doing instead, what I should have done earlier, and what I should do after whatever I’m doing now. Whether I’m writing, reading, out with friends, spending time with family, or performing yoga, which I was doing during this particular time, I always find myself thinking those three thoughts. At least those; usually more. I’ve never been able to sit completely still and embrace the now as it is unless I’m sitting in deep meditation (but sometimes, not even then).
In my defense, I am a female, and no offense to all these females out there, but… we can get a little lost in thought at times. We’re always tying everything together, always having difficulty focusing on the present, or maintaining balance.
So, during my yoga, while my mind was spinning, my thoughts concerned with everything but the yoga I was currently doing, I was almost ready to turn off the video and do something else, like write, or read; something my mind was persuading me to do instead because it was “more productive”. But, something else, something deep down and strong, told me to stay. I was in mountain pose, my arms extended at my sides, my feet hip-width apart on the mat when the instructor told me (or, told everyone watching, really) to cross my right hand over my left, then clasp my hands together to form Eagle Arms. Then, I was told to lift my right foot. I did, but my mind was still spinning, and I kept stumbling and losing balance and having to start over. I was becoming frustrated because normally I have great balance. I wasn't quite sure why I didn’t at the time.
I almost got the pose down when it got harder. I was told to extend my right leg in front of me, then wrap it around my left leg for Eagle Pose.
As you can imagine, this was even more challenging, and I think I fell about three times. The instructor kept telling me, “It’s okay if you fall, just get back up.” So, I did (keep getting back up and falling, that is) until it clicked: It wasn’t my physical body that couldn’t balance, it was me.
I stopped the video and stood still for a moment to recollect my thoughts and shoo them away. I breathed in, and when I breathed out, I imagined my thoughts floating away high above my head in the form of brightly colored balloons. I did this until everything remaining in my mind was stillness.
I breathed in deep and tried the pose again.
We’ve all balanced before. When learning to ride a bicycle, or a scooter, or during gymnastics, or on a jet ski or motorcycle… you know, balance. And we all know that in order to balance, we must steady ourselves, hold ourselves tall, and understand that if we lean too far to one side, we will indeed fall. If you lean forward, backward, right, or left, or in any direction other than completely upright, gravity is going to cling to us and pull us down.
But balance is not only physical.
Balance means to focus on what’s truly important: The now. Balance means to cut out all thoughts that are no longer serving us, all thoughts that are irrelevant to what is happening during this moment.
We will never return to the past. We must accept that. We will never skip ahead to the future. We must understand that. We are exactly where we are supposed to be. Right here, right now.
If we allow our thoughts to tell us otherwise, the force of the Universe will take hold of us and pull us down, and we will lose sight of what really matters, and all we will think about is the act of falling. If we think about anything other than the now, our mind will be tugged in all sorts of directions, and we won’t know where to go, or what to think, and the truth will disguise itself, put on a mask.
But, of course, we are human. It’s normal for us to think about both the future and the past as a survival tactic, but we have a choice as to what we decide to focus on the most. So, to do Eagle Pose correctly, without falling, I had to acknowledge this. I had to steady myself, hold myself still, and balance. I understood then that we can only truly focus on one thing at a time to be completely still. If we focus on too much, let our minds wander too far, we will struggle to return to our core selves.
And the truth about balance, well… balance is in everything we do.