In the last few weeks the concept of emotional balance has come up in my work, and in my being. What popped up for me as I sat with it was the metaphor of the balance balls that are used in gyms and exercise classes, and my experience of learning to balance on them.
When my coach first suggested I kneel on a ball and balance, my understanding of what would work was that I would need to stay still. I tried it. I fell off, again, again and again. I was busy trying to hold myself rigid, trying to stop the ball moving, and it just didn’t work. Much hilarity ensued, but also some sore spots from falling and frankly a pretty hurt pride too.
What I began to experience in my body as I learned was that in this context, balance does not come from stillness. The more I was able to soften my muscles and allow both myself and the ball to move, the better my balance became. I discovered that it is many, many, unconscious micro-adjustments that keep you upright, as well as the odd bigger, deliberate shift. In time I learned to balance for longer periods, to balance while moving my arms, and eventually to balance even with my eyes shut. All the while, softness, softness, softness was the key.
It seems to me that emotional and mental balance are very similar. The more we try to hold on, to keep still, to squish down the movement, the more rigid and brittle we become, and so the more fragile we are, the more prone to falling. The softer we become, the more welcoming to what is present within us, the more able to let it flow and release, the more balanced we are able to be.
When emotions come and you feel the instinct to tighten up and hunker down, remember the ball metaphor. Instead, breathe, soften, and allow your bodymind to keep adjusting as whatever needs to flows through. You’ll feel far less sore if you do.
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