Tag Archives: Balance

It’s All An Act of Balance

This last week there has been a fair amount of discussion at our Church about the alignment in our lives and also getting the balance right, which over the last few days has got me thinking, about what I’ve learnt in my life that could help me to get my balance and alignment right.

Physical balance is not the easiest thing in the world to learn and to perfect, it takes time, concentration and endeavour, I guess much like life itself.

When I first walked into a karate class, 33 years ago this month, I was just six years old, small for my age (not much changes there), I was weak and very shy, immensely shy, not much changes at all really!

I wasn’t a natural at karate, I struggled and only got a half grade for the first if my three gradings, most of my club colleagues at the time advance quicker than I. If my instructor told me off, I would more often than not cry (I must add that has changed a little over the years), if I look at the least gifted of any of my current students, I was far worse than any I’ve had in some time!

I certainly had no balance, when I started I couldn’t stand on one leg for a couple of seconds, never mind stand on one leg and perform various different kicks at slow pace or speed, all without putting my foot down, this isn’t something even the most natural of athletes can just do, it takes work over time.

I remember clearly still the basic principles that I was taught when we learning to balance, I still teach that way now, it works, it’s not easy, but if the most ungifted of children can master them, then anyone can.

The first thing we were taught about our balance was our centre of gravity, the lower to the ground we made it, the better. Although mine was naturally quite low to the ground anyway, this didn’t matter, it still needed lowering. So we were told to bend our supporting leg when we lift a knee to kick, hereby lowering the centre of gravity and also tightening the muscles in the leg, make it a more solid support, but that alone didn’t make for perfect balance.

We were taught to hold our alignment straight, don’t lean forward or backwards, only lean to the side when kicking to the opposite side, then not too far, only just enough to counter balance the leg. This wasn’t easy either, as a six year old the core muscles aren’t developed, so it took practice and lots of falling over or hoping around on one foot to find that counter balance.

The last thing was our concentration, we were told to fix our eyes on a point on the wall ahead, not to break that concentration, to hold our concentration on that point ahead, not to look around but to fix our focus ahead.

But it was etched into us that we must persevere, even if it hurt sometimes, even if we wobbled, even if we had to put our foot down for a moment, we were told to compose ourselves and try again, keep trying, each time that little bit harder and eventually it would improve, we would become stronger and our balance more stable over time.

Over time and I really mean over time, it’s not just one lesson and wow I’m now Mr Miyagi, far from it, it took years of practice, the simple kicks were first, then the more difficult and then combinations of kicks from one leg without returning to the ground with the kicking foot, it was all a process of development through training and practice.

It took focus on the basic principles to develop balance, without all four, it just doesn’t happen. But even when we’ve mastered our balance it takes practice of those three basic principles to sustain it and then develop it further, a trap I still fall into from time to time, I still need to work on mine, especially if I’m to lead my students by example.

But what about life, are these four principles of physical balance that far removed from the actual balance of our life.

This blog makes no secret of the fact I lost that balance of life, in fact I let go off all those principles and wobbled and stumbled, until I simply fell flat on my face and struggled to lift myself up again, everything in my life fell out of alignment, physically, mentally and emotionally, I became a real mess, a shell of my former self.

I guess firstly my alignment was shot, okay I had been a drinker for some time, I enjoyed a drink to relax, I worked everyday, spent time with my family, I taught karate four times a week, money was okay, we were getting by, I had a healthy and loving relationship with Victoria and two wonderful kids. Then I lost my regularly source of income, money became tight, I stopped doing the daily things that kept me in alignment and started to wobble a little. The stress of trying to keep upright began to get to me and behind closed doors, hidden away from the world outside, I began to stumble and reached for support, did I reach for the solid support of a loving partner, no I reached for support if a bottle, an unstable companion.

But as it began to get worse, there were times when I recognised this, there were times I was really down, it wasn’t the only time on 18th March 2012 that I reached for that penknife, there were times before when I realised how bad things were, I may not have recognised that the drinking was the issue, but I knew things weren’t right, I wasn’t right, even though I became desperate to the point of thoughts if suicide, I kept it all inside, I let no one see inside, I let no one look into my eyes, I hid it all, I didn’t want anyone to see my weakness, I had a reputation to keep up, I couldn’t crumble in front of everyone, my sense of self was raised, just like raising the centre of gravity, everything became less stable.

Our sense of self I can see as the centre of our gravity, the more we elevate ourselves, the harder our balance becomes to keep, just like those lessons from my instructor.

I put my pride, my sense of self, above everything, my health, my kids and my partner, that stubbornness to carry on and do it myself, not wanting anyone else to see or help, made everything so much harder and prolonged the pain, my unstable support couldn’t hold my weight forever, eventually there would be a big fall, one I would probable never get up from.

In an effort to keep up appearances, to hide everything, I elevated myself and my pride, I raised that centre of gravity, I wobbled even more, I would try to stay upright when people were looking, but when they looked away, I was struggling and in reality gave up trying, but they weren’t to know that.

Finally I lost my focus on what was before me, my focus was no longer on my family unit, on supporting my kids, on providing for my family and being a loving partner to Victoria, my gaze fell from that point of focus and then it all really became a struggle, I eventually found myself alone, struggling to stay uptight, until with all four principles abandoned I fell.

To say I fell hard is a little bit if an understatement, I was definitely shaken, my world upon which I stood shook and my weak balance and unsteady support finally gave way.

But that’s when I revisited the principles of balance, firstly I had to lower my centre of gravity, this time through humility. I had to get over myself, stop trying to kid the world and be humble enough to admit to the world I was a mess, admit that I had fallen and I was struggling to stand, never mind stand on one leg.

The night I met Gareth, I started to find that lower sense of self, I let go and admitted how weak I was and over the coming weeks, months and now fast approaching years, I still admit I am weak and struggle from time to time, but that lower sense of self allows me to do that, it keeps me ground and hence it keeps a lower centre of gravity.

I’m doing everything I can to get my balance of life right now, to keep from leaning too far one way or the other, keep a happy balance, it’s hard when I have to also work so many extra hours to cover the debts I have accrued, that can for make a tiring life, what with Church and karate. Sometimes I get it a little off, I find I’m too tired to walk in the mornings, but then find I need to walk to work things through and take that time out to spend with God and help keep that balance. It’s never easy, but I’m working in it, I keep trying and every time I stumble a little or have to rest a while, I get back up and try again.

Finally, the focus, before it was taken by the unhealthy, where I lost focus on the most important things in my life, my family and Victoria, I nearly lost them all, I maybe still don’t have all of those things back in my life, but now I have the ultimate of focus, on God, that’s where I do everything I can to try to keep my focus in Him, keep my eyes fixed ahead to him.

If I can keep these thing right, if I keep trying and working hard to keep myself  grounded, keep myself in good alignment, not allowing myself to lean too far one way or the other and then finally keep my focus firmly fixed ahead on God, then hopefully the balance of my life will continue to improve.

WE WON’T BE SHAKEN by BUILDING 429
This world has nothing for me
This life is not my own
I know you go before me
And I am not alone
This mountain rises higher
This way seems so unclear
But I know that you go with me
I will trust in you

Whatever will come my way
Through fire or pouring rain
We won’t be shaken
No we won’t be shaken
Whatever tomorrow brings
Together we’ll rise and sing
That we won’t be shaken
Oooh Oh Oh
Oooh Oh Oh
Oooh Oh Oh
No we won’t be shaken

You know my every longing
You’ve heard my every prayer
You’ve held me in my weakness
Cause you are always there
So I’ll stand in full surrender
It’s your way and not my own
My mind is set on nothing less
Than you and you alone
I will not be moved oh

Whatever will come my way
Through fire or pouring rain
We won’t be shaken
No we won’t be shaken
Whatever tomorrow brings
Together we’ll rise and sing
That we won’t be shaken

We will trust in you
We will not be moved
We will trust in you

Learning To Walk Again

Daily Prompt – These Boots Were Made For Walking

It was around this time last year, when the family were all away and I was alone in this house that I started getting out of the house, putting the headphones in and just walking.  Back then it didn’t matter where I walked or how far I walked, it was about beating demons and instead of being enclosed within this four walls fighting them, it was so much easier to get out and just walk away from them, put some Christian music in my ears and spent some time working things out in my head rather than getting lost in my mind.

I walked in the morning and then again in the evening, anywhere, up the hill, around the industrial estate, around town, anywhere but stay in alone.  I walked at pace then, but not as quick as I do now, but depending on the song that came on and it’s pace depended on how fast I would walk.  I would progressively walk longer, starting at a five or six mile walk and onto the 13 mile route that would become my regular weekend walk.

I started to settle into a routine, each morning I would wake at about 5am, get up and walk 4 miles, come home shower and walk the other mile and a quarter to work, I began to average about 60 miles a week and an average speed of 4.7 mph, that continued through to the end of the year and into this year, whether it was clear weather, rain, sleet, wind and even heavy snow, I would get up, no excuses, the alarm would sound I would just rise, dress and walk, whether I felt up to it or not I would just walk.

One morning I walked over 27 miles without stopping, I just went for it, when I got home I checked the times of the most recent London Marathon, I was amazed that over 4000 people ran the marathon distance slower than I had walked it!

In the first six months that I was on this routine I missed just a few mornings, I walked pretty much every morning, the few mornings I missed, the day that followed just didn’t seem right, it didn’t seem like were quite going my way, I’m not sure what it was exactly, but those day just didn’t seem to go well, they weren’t disasters by any means, just not as good.

Predominantly through that period I started my walk in darkness and walked into the daylight, sometimes as I passed by street lamps they would switch off, it felt like I was Professor Dumbledore with his gadget putting the lights out as I go.  I would carry my camera and record some of the most wonderful sunrises I’ve ever seen.  I spent so much of the years previously hidden behind closed curtains, some days not even seeing the sun at all, then to see every sunrise was just special, it meant something to me and represented what I was doing in my life, walking out of the darkness of my past in to the light of my future.

Then the first of March arrived, I was off work and after a brief walk I paused to sit by the lake, intending to walk further after I had watched the sunrise, then before 7am my phone rang, my Mum told me my Nan had died and my world fell apart there and then.  I stumbled home in tears and from that day it’s not been quite the same.

Over the next few weeks walking was an on and off thing, I was struggling with my Nan’s death, right up until the funeral and days I didn’t feel like it, I didn’t walk, I just went back to sleep for a little longer, by the time I got over that my other Nan died and although I didn’t initially struggle with that loss as badly at first, I did after the funeral, a bit of a reversal, but once again walking became intermittent and good and bad days continued.

By the end of May I was doing so many extra hours at work and other things that something had to give, I was exhausted, when I woke, I didn’t question myself, I just turned over and went back to sleep awaiting a second alarm, I got out odd mornings, but few and far between, since then it’s become gradually less and less that I get out, up to the point that I haven’t walked now in over three weeks and just haven’t been the same.

Had I been still walking, would I have struggled so much this last week, last year I got out and did something about it, this year I sat deep within my own self pity, the balance of my life just doesn’t seem right at the moment and the one thing that has changed is the walking.

I do my best thinking when I’m walking, I listen to my music and worship along to it, especially when I’m alone along the cycle track where no one except the rabbits can hear me, I speak with God when I walk, I hand over all my problems when I’m walking and that just isn’t happening at the moment.

Something is just not he same and I desperately want to get back to my routine, that feeling that when the alarm goes off, there no thought, just action, that old feeling of jumping up and getting out, enjoying every sunrise and not worrying about the sound of wind and rain, just walking, just getting that balance of life right.

I miss seeing the sunrise and I want to get back to witnessing moments like this again.

Light Up The Sky

Light Up The Sky

This Monday I fully intend to start with the old routine of walking once again, to fight that urge to turn over, to just get up, change and get out, to see if I get some of that old balance back, that old spring in the step and walk right back into that light.

WALK by THE FOO FIGHTERS
A million miles away
Your signal in the distance
To whom it may concern
I think I lost my way
Getting good at starting over
Every time that I

I’m learning to walk again
I believe I’ve waited long enough
Where do I begin?
I’m learning to talk again
Can’t you see I’ve waited long enough?
Where do I begin?

Do you remember the days
We built these paper mountains
And sat and watched them burn?
I think I found my place
Can’t you feel it growing stronger?
Little conquerors

I’m learning to walk again
I believe I’ve waited long enough
Where do I begin?
I’m learning to talk again
I believe I’ve waited long enough
Where do I begin?

Now
For the very first time
Don’t you pay no mind?
Set me free again
You keep alive a moment at a time
But still inside a whisper to a riot
To sacrifice but knowing to survive
The first decline another state of mind
I’m on my knees, I’m praying for a sign
Forever, whenever
I never wanna die
I never wanna die
I never wanna die
I’m on my knees
I never wanna die
I’m dancing on my grave
I’m running through the fire
Forever, whatever
I never wanna die
I never wanna leave
I’ll never say goodbye
Forever, whatever
Forever, whatever

I’m learning to walk again
I believe I’ve waited long enough
Where do I begin?
I’m learning to talk again
Can’t you see I’ve waited long enough?
Where do I begin?

I’m learning to walk again
I believe I’ve waited long enough
I’m learning to talk again
Can’t you see I’ve waited long enough?