Departures: Practicing Balance

When we let go of what we are holding on to, how do we keep our balance?  It’s a question that can be taken literally or metaphorically on several levels, and I pose them all to us.

Recently,  I was at a conference where sessions were being offered on three different levels of a large conference center.  The levels were connected by a huge spiral staircase.  As I made my way up one morning, a friend standing on the upper level saw me coming.  She announced to everyone:  “look at him coming up those stairs without holding on to the rail!”  It was true.  I was not holding the hand rail.  I was looking at my feet and the next step in front of me.  My friend thought of that as risky business.  I thought of watching my feet as a way of staying on balance.

Life comes at us every day.  Things happen both of little and large consequence that tend to disorient us as they remove from our grasp (physically, intellectually, emotionally, or spiritually) what we were using to stabilize and balance ourselves.  When the “hand rail” is taken away, how do we find balance?  One way is to look down at our feet and re-center ourselves on the next step.  That morning, as I arrived at the upper level there was good humored chatter about how we each navigate the winding stairs.  One friend offered that she just looked up at the destination–yet another way of finding focus, balance and stability when we have to leave behind what has been a balance in our lives.

These kinds of daily balance adjustments can become for us, if we choose, a spiritual practice.  If I practice today with a hand rail by letting go and using something else, and tomorrow I practice adjusting myself to an hour or two without the internet when the service goes out, over time with such daily practice, I hone within myself a set of spiritual skills for life’s larger challenges.

Take note today those things that you rely on for balance and security in your life.  Can you practice today by leaving one off and finding something else with which to center yourself?

Bob Patrick

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