Gravity & Grief

The past year has been a year for grief. I think I’ve already shared that’s actually a big part of why I hadn’t been blogging–I’ve felt like I’m doing well just to drag air in and out of my lungs. It’s exhausting, and it feels like I’m carrying an ocean.

I’ve been thinking about gravity and relaxation, trying to remember my Tai Chi. See, you can look at gravity as a hindrance or a help. When you’re relaxed and your center of balance is moved to your feet (i.e., all your weight dropping down into the floor), gravity helps keep you in place. It’s like a giant hand holding you in place, helping you keep your balance. And so it provides the anchor to allow you to move. If you weren’t able to balance, you could never move forward.

On the other hand, if you fight gravity–keep your muscles tense and work to break free from gravity–you end up being off-balance and exhausted. It’s all in how you handle gravity. It can be friend or foe, completely depending on how you treat it.

Grief is like that. It’s exhausting to fight it. Heck, it’s exhausting to simply sit with it. But it can be be a force for life. It can stabilize. It can open up the possibility of moving forward. Carrying my ocean can actually give me greater balance, but only if I relax and let the weight drop straight through my soul and into the ground.


Three Inches

So here is my happy news for you, if I haven’t shared it already, the area in which your body is in balance is only about three inches. Isn’t that great?!?! Now, I’m sure you’re scratching your head and wondering what I’m on that makes me that excited about three inches. 😉 It’s because it’s a lovely little type. Three inches of physical space you have to hang onto in order to stay upright. Go on, go try it. Stand up straight. Lean a little bit to the left, to the right, to the front and to the back. Feel where you’re actually balanced. Lean too far and you start to lose your balance. Three inches. That’s it. Not the whole room. Not a foot’s worth of personal space. Just a measly little three inches.

So here’s why I get excited about those three inches: every time I remember them, I remember that I only have to hang onto three little inches of emotional space too. I don’t have to control the people around me. I don’t have to control the circumstances around me. I just have to hang onto my three inches. This is one of my favorite things I’ve learned from Tai Chi. During the terrible threes, I can’t tell you the number of times “three inches” was my mantra. And now, when there’s a lot of crazy going on in my life, I’m back to muttering it to myself throughout the day. I can’t tell you what a relief it is to know that I don’t need a lot of space to be myself.

So there you go! Everybody has to balance–whether you’re laying in bed, sitting in a chair, or standing. It means we all have a built-in reminder that emotional balance is not all about controlling everything in the world, but just hanging onto our three inches.