My daughter is a fan of Bikram Yoga, or “hot yoga.” While I am not a frequent practitioner of yoga, I have enjoyed it on several occasions. However, the thought of striking and holding yoga poses in a room with a temperature exceeding 100 degrees seems both unusually daunting and rather unappealing. Still, I have come to value the benefits of yoga to my overall health and well-being.
While certainly no master at yoga, I do appreciate the importance of balance and how this can strengthen my inner core. In my practice of yoga, though, there are often times when I am not in balance. With new, challenging poses, I find it more difficult to find that nexus of balance where my core will be strengthened. When I do, though, it is always the result of first being out of balance. In yoga, balance leads to growth. But, imbalance is always the precursor to balance and, therefore, growth.
In education, there is much to say about the importance of balance. This is especially true in a culture where there can be so many distractions. It is important for students to learn that there needs to be balance in their lives. This is why Trinity-Pawling embraces the value of a holistic approach to education, when a student’s mind, body, and spirit can be nurtured and nourished. Such a holistic approach to education, in my opinion, not only acknowledges our access to multiple intelligences and multiple modes of learning, it also leads to a life and love of learning. Balance is enriching.
With this said, though, I would also like to make the case for the importance of imbalance in learning and in life. As we grow, we are constantly in a state of imbalance. New, unfamiliar material is introduced. Academics grow more challenging. There are frustrations, sometimes failures. Where answers once dominated, questions now loom. As new goals are established, there is a feeling of discomfort that comes from unfamiliarity. Mistakes are made. This, though, is all part of healthy growth. If students are always in a state of balance, they will not move forward. Rather, moving forward through growth necessitates a certain degree of imbalance.
Imbalance should neither be feared nor should it be isolated from the experience of the learner or the teacher. If we seek to protect our students, children, or ourselves from the necessary periods of imbalance, we thwart possibilities for substantive growth. Imbalance allows for vulnerability. It is precisely at these points of vulnerability that can lead to the most significant growth. Vulnerability can lead to revelation, resilience, and confidence. If we are constantly in a state of balance, however, we lose opportunities for such vulnerability and growth.
In yoga, as in life, there is a quest toward balance. But, imbalance is a necessary ingredient in this objective and should not be feared. It is in the interplay between balance and imbalance where true growth is attained and our inner core is strengthened.
As we begin a new school year, it is my hope that it is a year filled with growth, strength, learning, and joy. May it be so.
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