Life balance is a concept that many of us are trying to achieve.  When our life is out of balance we often turn on ourselves, thinking we messed up in some way.  This self-blame reaction only pulls us further away from life balance, expending a lot of energy trying to fix and control things in our life to get back into balance.

The term “Embrace the Sway” came to me when I teach groups of people balance exercises.  The moment they fall out of balance, there is a look of frustration on their face, as if they did something wrong. Going back and trying again only seems to make things worse and they get more and more frustrated by the fact that they ‘can’t balance’.  We can learn a few things here about the nature of balance from trees:

Balance lessons from a tree:

  • Grow Strong Roots:  Just as the roots of a tree anchor and nourish it, having a strong clear vision for our own well-being in all aspects of wellness (physical, emotional, spiritual, social, financial, environmental, intellectual) keep us grounded and nourished.  When one of the aspects of well-being is ignored the nourishment and stability of all are compromised.  However, with a clear understanding of what wellness means to us in each area, even when one requires more attention, the other areas are more easily sustained.
  • Be Who You Are:   A maple tree does not expend any energy trying to grow acorns.  A peach tree does not work at being a great lemon grower.  Knowing our unique strengths and aligning them with how we spend our time and energy makes us more productive. We are also more immune to burnout. When we connect what we do with what is important to us, we are stabilized, fed, and energized by the activity.  Everyone around us benefits as well.
  • Take in the Sunshine:   Our sunshine is the people, places and things around us that keep us connected to who we are and what is important to us.  Creating strong internal and external supports in our lives keeps us in balance by reminding us to grow toward our own well-being.
  • Soak up Nourishment:   Daily nourishment means feeding our mind and body and heart with constant reminders of what we value.   What we choose to look at, listen to, say, and read can nourish our well-being.  We, like trees, need to seek healthy nourishment constantly.  Gratitude keeps us open and ready to receive the nourishment around us constantly.
  • Be Flexible:  The branches of a tree are flexible to account for external forces.   When we are simultaneously aware of the external forces upon us and our strong roots, we can more easily go with the flow of life.  Knowing we are deeply rooted, we are free to stay flexible and open.  We, like trees, are actually strengthened by these challenges.  We learn the most about how to balance when balance is challenged.
  • Give and Receive:  Air contains the rich products of balanced giving and receiving:  Strengthening our skills in mindful awareness with compassion are key elements in knowing when and what to give and to receive.  The paradox is that we need to nourish our own ability to be aware and compassionate with ourselves in order to be able to give attention, kindness, and compassion to others.   These are skills for finding balance in our giving and receiving.

Trees remind us that balance is not static, it is very dynamic.  Aware of when are at our tipping point, we can use our resources to restore balance.

A short temper, emotional eating, over-committing, multitasking, avoiding, are just a few warning signals of imbalance.   They are simply signs we need to root down deeper and open up to be nourished

When we do fall though, we know we can replant our roots and nourish them to grow stronger.

The sway is a necessary part of being balanced.  It is simply the signal to pay attention with greater curiosity, kindness and reverence for the changing nature of life.

With clarity in our vision for well-being, daily nourishment, and both internal and external supports we can sway more and keep our roots firmly planted for greater whole-person health and wellbeing.

Be Well Now

Janet