There are many ways we can talk about balance in life. In the realms of health, we could talk about eating a balanced diet. We could also talk about balancing the exercise you do with the amount of energy you have. But in today’s weekly instalment, I want to talk to you about your internal balance, and how centred you are inside.
When we’re feeling centred we aren’t falling over ourselves to please people, and we aren’t toppled over by someone’s attempt to manipulate or intimidate us. Instead we stay in control of our response, we don’t react to a situation. Instead we respond from a calmer, more present place, and not let our heads (and our thoughts!) run away with us.
The level-headedness that comes from being in balance allows us not to be thrown around like a leaf in a storm when life gets challenging. Instead we become like the tree, strong and flexible, with solid roots to ground us.
Most of us keep our sense of self in our heads
If I asked where you would describe your sense of self and what makes you who you are, I wonder if you would point to your head? In the Western World, we tend to think that we exist in a little spot just behind the eyes, and we control our bodies from a little control room. Sound about right?
When we identify with being in our heads, thoughts and worries that come up can easily take us off to a land full of stress and anxiety.
And in today’s world, it’s even more important that we learn to shift our sense of self from that unbalanced heady state, to a more centred place deeper down in our body.
The essence of you is found in the ‘Hara’
Hara is a Japanese word which refers to your ‘vital spirit’, and is located a couple of inches below your belly button and a couple of inches inside your body. This is in fact where your body’s centre of gravity is found.
In martial arts, they emphasise the importance of creating movement from the Hara. Moving our sense of self to a grounded balanced centre, means we don’t get caught up in thoughts and feelings of uncertainty.
Shifting your sense of self
If you recognise that you easily get thrown by situations and get carried off by negative thoughts, then it’s time shift your sense of self.
The first step is gaining awareness that you are coming from that heady place.
The second step is to recognise that you are not your thoughts - they are simply thoughts. Thoughts will always be there, but you have the choice whether you entertain them or not. So rather than letting them carry you away, recognise what is happening and place your hand on your stomach over your Hara point. Start to breathe into this deeper more stable place. Continue to breathe into this place until you feel calmer. It may take a few minutes of slow deep breathing to create the shift.
Over time, this exercise will help you to diffuse situations which may have previously thrown you off track. You’ll start to feel more grounded and centred, and less easily rocked by life.