What Is Balance All About?

Hi folks,

The author demonstrating his favorite most simple and most complex balance and gravitational awareness exercise - standing with eyes closed and feet together

I thought I would write briefly about a subject that has interested me for years, balance, a concept that can be applied to many things. For instance, a balanced life should include a healthy collection of components, which reminds me of a useful meditation in this regard, that goes as follows:

‘An acquaintance of yours has just died and at the funeral/wake/party to celebrate their life (or lack thereof), four friends will step forward and give a eulogy on the person’s life. Each will tackle one of four key issues, career, family, social responsibility, and spirituality. Just before they speak you are all invited to look upon the body in the coffin and say goodbye. You go up to the deceased, look in the coffin, and surprise surprise, there YOU are! Now! What is it that you hope that YOUR four friends will say about YOU on each of these important aspects of your life? After this meditation you might wonder whether you should make some changes, as you now have time to do so! Bit like Christmas Carol, really! It is worth a thought.’

The balance I want to write about, however, is physical balance, as it is critical for any kind of athletic activity or just for getting around in general. You can spend your energy wisely, or you can spend it fighting gravity and ineffective physical habits. In this kind of balance issue I include your physical symmetry, posture, gravitational awareness, and your approach to training, which in my case should include more core work for true balance! When you watch a great endurance runner you will notice the apparent lack of effort throughout much of the race. They are not wasting energy fighting gravity or fighting their body. In fact, muscular relaxation can represent a form of balance, as opposing groups of muscles balance the timing of their contraction and relaxation cycles to maximize effect and minimize energy dissipation.

Here is my favorite gravitational awareness exercise, which is very simple, and can be applied using the principles laid out in The Three Minute Meditator! I do this every morning whilst waiting for my tea water to boil, when standing in line at the grocery store or whilst on long plane flights. You just stand relaxed and erect with your feet close together, in a state of good posture (a complex subject), your eyes closed (if you can without falling over), and feel or mentally watch the line of the earth’s gravitational field running down your body and into the ground. You will notice small corrections by your body as it leans this way and that until, from time to time, you hit that perfect spot of complete stillness. That is when your mind can start to search for tight areas in your body and let them go! Every time I do this I learn some little trick or fact about my musculo-skeletal system. There is a picture of me demonstrating this most simple and most complex of all exercises, standing and watching inward, at the head of this post.

The World inside is just as rich as the World outside, and it is critical to balance the focus of your attention between the two. I think so, anyway!





  1. That is good stuff! I have gone through a lot of struggle to learn “balance” (often synonomous with “moderation) over the years. In terms of the physical I’m trying to focus more on stretching and relaxation (of both the mind and body) to stay balanced as I approach 40. Everything seems to be tightening up these days!

  2. Hi! Benjamin,
    Approaching 40! Those were the days! You’re just a kid, which is one reason I have been so impressed by what you have done. I am working on a training manual, and once it is ready I’ll send you a copy for your comments (if that is OK?). Hoping to make some moolah and have even more fun. My target market is old guys (definitely over 40).
    It is all in the mind, my friend!
    Try Feldenkrais. It is definitely the way to go.
    Kevin (Old Dog!)

  3. Hi! Stacy,
    Yep! When you find the perfect balance it is as though your whole body is quiet, aligned and sitting on the point of a pin! Some of the best exercises are the simplest ones. Another one I like for core training is to lie on your back, bring your knees up and feet on the floor about a foot from your butt, and lift one leg at a time whilst holding you lower back firmly against the floor. Seems simple, but keeping your hips neutral during this simple maneuver is not so easy, and it really works those core muscles, especially the transversus abdominis. Some of these things are to be found by clicking on the tag ‘core’ and scanning the posts ’til you find the link.
    Have fun!

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Disclaimer: As a veterinarian, I do not provide medical advice for human animals. If you undertake or modify an exercise program, consult your medical advisors before doing so. Undertaking activities pursued by the author does not mean that he endorses your undertaking such activities, which is clearly your decision and responsibility. Be careful and sensible, please.