“What I dream of is an art of balance.” Henri Matisse
As children we learn how to physically balance our bodies in relationship to the space around us. When children explore balancing in different ways – upside down, on their side, moving along a line forwards, sideways, backwards – the central nervous system builds the neural connections that tell our bodies how to find a balance and ultimately how to maintain balance. In essence, this process fine tunes our body’s ability (neuromuscular response) to balance.
Dancers have exceptional balance, they continue to follow this exact process day after day, year after year, from their early or adolescent years through their adult years. Placing their bodies in crazy, strange and even ridiculous positions, working to find their balance in each position. Sometimes those positions are standing still (static), most often they seem to be in motion (dynamic). Dancers learn very early that even the slightest adjustment in the placement of their body positively or negatively affects their ability to balance. They are also acutely aware that what helps one person achieve balance, doesn’t necessarily work for the next person…because our physiques are all unique (much like our personalities). Professional dancers are a perfect example of how finely tuned our balance can become, with training and effort.
Key words – with training, and unique… stay with me here, I’ll get to my point eventually. If we juxtapose our bodies with our personalities, and each of our bodies is unique, so then are our personalities and how each of us learns to balance life. So why do we expect ourselves to be able to learn how to find this balance without training AND in an instant AND just like everyone else? Somehow we expect ourselves and our children to just simply know how to balance their lives and make the assumption that ‘if so and so’ has found balance, then we must be able to do so in the same way (and do it better, no less).
Balancing life? Or better yet, maintaining our balance in life (equilibrium).
First, life is not a competition to see who can balance better, stronger, faster than anyone else. It’s about taking the basics of life and keeping them in a fine balance. In the health care, psychological and educational world there is actually a theory behind all this called, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs…
The important thing about this pyramid is the understanding that at any given time each of these levels is vulnerable to our thoughts, actions, and behaviours.
We can reach that golden top of the pyramid, and the next day, week, month, something happens that affects the love and belongingness (or other level, which then affects our self-esteem, which results in a loss of self-actualization. Ideally we regroup, rethink, recover and are able to become self-actualized again. As static (still) as this pyramid in this image, it is actually quite dynamic and ever-changing.
When I look at this hierarchy, it feels pretty good to know that I have actually reached that golden, top of the pyramid a few times. And, have also experienced the tumble from that peak when the lower levels begin to crumble away. Have you experienced that top level of self-actualization? Did you stay there for a long period of time? Have any of the levels below begun to crumble beneath you at any point in time? Did you recover? And how did you recover?
We can use this hierarchy as a way of training ourselves to cope, and take care of ourselves. Think of it as high performance training guide – a maintenance program for life (for health).
The image and more info can be found at: http://quangkhoi.net/learningcenter/2009/05/maslows-hierarchy-of-needs//.
If you execute a google scholar 0r a regular google search on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs you come up with many different journal articles and websites on the subject. For those who are interest here is a good article to begin with..maslow’s hierarchy.