As we age we get good at sitting still, and not so good at falling. We become fearful of falling. Our self-image no longer includes “safe falling”, but is affected deeply by the fear of falling.
The fear of falling settles into us as tension in the legs, fixed segments of the spine, eyes and head lowered to the floor—into our posture – who we are.
For humans over the age of two, balance has a lot to do with feet; standing and walking being our primary vehicles for activity. But when we look more closely, we notice that we are balancing all the time, in every action we make. We discover that moving better means balancing better.
When we stop to think about it, most of us would consider balance a kind of everyday miracle.
How is it that we get across the room, transferring our weight from one foot to the other, over and over again, without ending up on the ground? We’ve all experienced a misstep, or a slip on a rug or the pavement . In that sudden, suspended moment of awareness that we’re about to bite the dust, our whole worldview changes. We are no longer graceful, and in control.. We are subject to the laws of physics, gravity and momentum carrying us swiftly from up to down.
Balancing is something we take for granted until we’re not doing it so well.
As children, for example, our sense of balance is very fluid. We are used to moving in rolling, spiraling movements that translate well into safe falling. Our self-image includes “safe falling” as part of standing and walking.
However, as we age, we lose these three-dimensional movement pathways into and out of the floor, because we’re specializing in other movements. We don’t know we’ve changed this way. It’s unconscious.
We wonder why we can’t somersault anymore, and the reason is: we no longer have a sensory image of ourselves moving safely to the floor. A little voice in our head says ‘you can’t do it’.
However if we change the voice in the head to “I can do it. I want to learn how to do it,” we can begin to use all the parts of the body as well as the processes of thinking, feeling, sensing and doing - an approach to balance retraining that is multi-dimensional.
And as you begin through careful observation of your own experience, you will notice that there is nothing at all still or static about your newfound ability to balance. It is about moving..