I don't remember balance ever being a factor until the number 85 rolled around and captured my attention. I was just starting to learn tango and hand-in-hand with that came yoga. Both of which cannot be achieved without good balance plus quite a few other things. Like for instance energy, strength, concentration, passion, and simplicity. But balance spoke to me and demanded to be heard. So I've been working on balance for eight years and it just occurred to me that balance isn't completely achieved physically without mentality in unison. These two talented pieces of machinery are a major part of my first instrument.
Another way of putting this miracle is the word presence or being aware, which takes a great deal of concentration. It's not unlike meditation. We are constantly losing that awareness and then we lose our balance. To my complete astonishment the solution was staring me in my face. It's a duet between mind and body and it's easy to slip in and out of. This duet and presence.
It's simplistic but simplicity is the most difficult to achieve and the most surprisingly beautiful to perceive. We were born with an amazing amount of elasticity. But at a certain time in our life in this universe one never knows the exact time it just happens and we start to lose our balance. And the medical profession has all sorts of reasons, but no solutions. I can do a million exercises and still not find balance. But the minute I conscientiously listened to my mind working with my body there came a small degree of balance and I discovered several very basic practices. And here they are:
1. Stand straight feet together hands on your side. Close your eyes for 30 seconds.
2. Same position eyes closed for 30 seconds.
3. Same position, rise up on balls of feet for 30 seconds with eyes open.
If you succeed with #3 do with eyes closed and bare foot. I didn't say TRY, I said DO. There is one more:
4. Same posture standing on right leg, raise left leg just a few inches off the floor. Now standing on left leg, raise right leg a few inches off the floor.
Tie your physicality and your mentality in a strong knot. They need to live and work together. Every step I take I send a message to my muscles that support and create my balance. When I do that I feel secure on my feet and immediately find balance. The balancing exercises are a great gift as is jump rope. I find I can't give up jump rope entirely even though I'm advised to lay off. I love it, my heart loves it, my feet, my ankles, my knees, my arms, shoulders love it -- maybe my spine is not so crazy about it, but it's outnumbered.
Balance is just as much mental as it is physical. I'm not just theorizing about this process it's something quite real.This practice and it is a practice. My mind and my body are working together. They are having a conversation and it goes like this;
Tighten your butt muscles.
Pull in your core.
Tighten your thighs.
Feel your ankles.
Even your toes.
Now your entire body and mind will take notice.
You will feel strength and at the same time a softness in a word CALM.
I've been dancing Tango seven years and I see this feeling in professional Tango dancers and until now I've never been able to see it and feel it in myself. You'll know it and you'll feel it when you've attained it. You're aware and totally present. I don't have this amazing feeling 100 percent but now that I know what the sensation feels like -- I will never give it up.
I can still remember at age 18 standing on point in my little pink toe shoes in arabesque for 30 seconds. That's called balance. Now simply doing a perfect Tango walk front and back takes all my strength. When done well, it looks like total simplicity. Simplicity is so difficult to achieve and so beautiful to perceive.
Life is a balancing act and as we approach the halfway mark that act becomes more difficult and sometimes dangerous. It's taken me 93 years to understand and reckon with and act upon this newfound knowledge. It's not magical, it's acceptance, concentration, and lots of work all in that order.
I've been cooperating with this astonishing universe 93 years. My mission from now on is to achieve perfect balance and it's a very delicate balance.