A Balancing Act -the art of caring for self while serving the collective

A lot of what we are doing in BUST – a six week intensive circus camp at Wise Fool NM – involves finding your balance. This week, I’m thinking about the balance between pushing myself and self-care. BUST as a word conjures up images of breaking loose. The words “I can’t” are ready made shackles. Much of the BUST experience is about saying “I’ll try” and often finding out that, in fact, “I can.” I’ve opted out of the aerial activities – fabric and trapeze. Even if you aren’t performing on these in the show, you are encouraged to keep working with them. At first, I thought “C’mon, Veena, push yourself.” Then I decided, “You know what, I’m not going to do these things – my body isn’t up for it.” This choice has got me thinking about the line between self-care and not stepping up to the plate when I could. 

The story I’ve created is this: Had I been more conscious before BUST began, I would have gotten some serious body work done to open up my lower back. My lower back is totally compressed and even with a lot of regular stretching, it isn’t going to open up. I’m pretty sure it won’t open up enough to enable me to enjoy the aerial activities and also to be able to do them with minimal risk of hurting myself. I say all this in the context of having broke my back over ten years ago and being very clued-in to looking after it. And the truth is, this past year generally, I haven’t been looking after it. Consequently, I have some constraints at the moment.

Initially, I wanted to be critical of my self for a whole host of things – for not looking after my back generally, letting it get compressed after having done a lot of work in decompressing it in the years previous; for bowing out of aerial activities rather than pushing myself; for failing to meet the challenges before me. After giving it a lot of thought and landing on the perspective in the above story, I think that I am meeting the challenges before me – just not in the way I had anticipated I would. I decided simply to acknowledge this is where I’m at. As recently as January, I might have been inclined to get wrapped up in a whole cycle of blame and judgement, I’m not going there this time. I’m just choosing in this instance to opt out. I think I am probably making a good judgement call in not forcing myself to persist in doing aerial. 

Sometimes, though, I’m sure I do choose to walk away from something for other reasons. Out of fear, mainly. Or out of rooting myself in a story of “I can’t” when actually, I can. How do I know if that’s what I’m doing? Increasingly, I’m learning to connect more clearly with my internal wisdom and I follow that. Sometimes, perhaps, I can’t really know. Sometimes, perhaps, I will shrink away when I could actually stand up large. Whichever I do, I’m starting to think what’s important is awareness of what I’m doing and how I’m being. If I’d like to do differently, then I need to own up to the reality of what is and take responsibility to work on being different – coming from a more expanded consciousness in order to DO differently. 

All of that said, I’m also very conscious this week that so much of the angst that can arise in something like BUST is starting to seem trivial to me. Sure, it might be indicative in me and others of genuine stories and beliefs that hold us back from living our full potential. Busting out of these stories and beliefs is an important and essential part of self-evolution. Yet, the fact that I have time and space to put energy into contemplating at length something like do I do the aerial circus arts or don’t I – well, it makes me feel a little bit indulgent and silly, if I’m honest. 

Which, in a way, is linked to this theme of balancing and crossing fine lines. I’ve been fairly inward-focused in recent years. Some of it has been needed and constructive. Some of it has been at best navel-gazing and at worst narcissism (which doesn’t mean, by the way, spending time in the mirror admiring my own beauty. I’ll save the meaning of narcissism for another post).  Rather than focus on wrapping my own knuckles for being overly self-focused (which then simply becomes more self-focus!), I’m wanting to acknowledge that I’m itching to be much more out in the world in service to others. In fact, I’m aware that some of the inner-work actually requires me to be more active in the world around me – otherwise it is an excuse to be disconnected and self-centered.  

This week, BUST is reminding me that when I’m out in the world, knowing when to retreat to practice self-care is important. Caring for myself enables me to give more to others. Equally, stepping out into the world and standing firmly in my values in service to the collective is important. 

A balancing act. 

In what parts of your life – in the different communities you inhabit – do you sense that you are out of balance? 

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2 Responses to A Balancing Act -the art of caring for self while serving the collective

  1. nicciattfield says:

    I love your post. I know the difficulty in finding that balance, and I like your focus on balance as a whole. What do we, as individuals, add to the collective, and how do we care for ourselves at the same time, so we can continue to do that? I think it’s very insightful and perceptive.

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