Blogger: Rachelle Gardner
I take a lot of classes at the gym, mostly yoga and boot camp. We seem to spend a lot of time challenging our balance, with exercises or poses that involve standing on one leg or (terrifyingly) our heads or arms. What I’ve distilled through these years of looking like a fool and falling all over the place is that balance can be thought of with this handy little equation:
Balance = strength + focus
Let’s break it down.
The fitness experts are always telling us we need to strengthen our core. When you’re trying to balance, you need to use the core muscles—literally, tighten them and keep them strong. They can’t be all loose and flabby, or you won’t have the strength to balance yourself.
You also need strength in the part of your body that you’re balancing on. If I’m on my right foot, I need to use all the muscles in my right leg. I think of myself as being strongly rooted in that right foot and use the strength in that leg to keep me balanced.
When you’re trying to gain balance, you can’t be looking all over the place. You need to find something upon which to focus your eyes, while inwardly you focus on placing your body where you want it. If your eyes start darting around, or if you quickly lift your head in search of a mirror to see how you’re doing, you’ll fall over. You’ve got to maintain that focus.
Once you’ve attained a state of balance and are comfortable in it, you may be able to look around from where you are without losing your balance—if you’re grounded firmly enough using that strength.
Strength + focus: With these two ingredients, we can find balance and maintain it.
Of course I’ve been trying to apply this equation to my life. Cultivating balance is always a priority for me. What does it mean to “strengthen my core” spiritually, emotionally and mentally? How does having a focal point on which to place my gaze help me find overall balance?
You tell me:
How can we apply “Balance = Strength + Focus” to life itself?
Great post, Rachelle!
* For life, I’d describe strength and focus like this:
STRENGTH is learning to be comfortable with discomfort. Once one gets past the distraction of an unpleasant situation, one finds that there are reserves of character previously hidden.
– This can be practiced. Dress so that you’ll suffer a bit from the cold, for instance. Small things like this, physical discomforts purposefully endured over time, will give one a mental resilience that can dominate many problems in life.
FOCUS is defining the necessary and attending to it first, especially if it’s onerous. Again, it can be practised; when the garbage needs to be taken out, take it yourself, NOW, and don’t hope that someone else in the household will do it. When it’s time to clean the lavs, it’s not to be put off for even an hour. Again, keeping the discipline of focus in the mundane will translate into a life in which the rewrites get done by deadline, and the WIPs make steady progress.
Oooh, great descriptions, Andrew! Merry Christmas to you, and thanks for being such a faithful contributor here. 🙂
Thanks so much, Rachelle, and a very merry Christmas to you and yours, and to everyone on the Books and Such staff and in this community!
Strength + focus = balance applies to my writing too. Strength–my basic writing skills. Focus–the message God calls me to present. Focus without strength doesn’t touch hearts. Strength without focus = empty words.
*O Lord, grant me balance!
I love the way you applied it, Shirlee. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas!
When I watch Survivor challenges, I always want to tell Jeff Probst to be quiet. He talks constantly while the competitors are trying to balance or focus. Makes me think about my life … I’ve got to continually keep my eyes on God, using the voices around me to aid me where I need it, without allowing it to make me wobble. 🙂
Jennifer Zarifeh Major
That drives me NUTS!!!
Hush up, Jeff!!!
“I’ve got to continually keep my eyes on God, using the voices around me to aid me where I need it, without allowing it to make me wobble.”
Yes, and I like Jeff … I doubt I’d watch the show without him being a part of it … but when I have a favorite competitor and I’d really like to see him/her win the challenge … and Jeff keeps on and on … grr!!! 🙂
Fantastic analogy. I love it! Merry Christmas, Shelli.
Aww, thank you. Merry Christmas to you, as well. 🙂
One might say that the more it hurts the stronger you are, because pain is weakness being expelled from the body.
And how about this for focus?
“When a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully.” – Samuel Johnson
Me too! I love, love, love yoga. Am going tonight. And you’re absolutely right. When I think I can’t hold a pose, or feel like I’m falling, I tell myself to FOCUS. It works–in life too. 🙂
Me too, Julie. In yoga and in life. If I’m balancing on one foot, I think of that foot being super firmly rooted into the ground, and I relate it to being firmly rooted in Jesus.
I think of “strengthen the core” as resisting and acquiring: resisting temptation, resisting the world’s mindset that money, power, physical beauty are the most important things to have, and acquiring discipline in my daily life.
*I think of “focus” as being focused wholeheartedly on God’s love and ways and being transformed by that.
*Strength without focus can lead to dangerous pride and legalism; strength plus focus leads to balance.
Darlene L. Turner
Love this post, Rachelle. I also do yoga and when I’m doing warrior pose, I lift my hands and think to myself, “I’m a Jesus warrior!” 🙂 Strength and focus can be applied to many aspects of our lives. Thanks so much for this reminder. Have a blessed Christmas with your family!
My most balanced days start with this prayer, “Lord, help me to hear your voice, to have the faith to know you are speaking to me, and the courage and discipline to do as you say.” ‘Wish I could say I started every day that way. I’m working on it…