It’s a lovely word; equilibrium. It flows like a river, or a breath of fresh air. It feels like it sounds: balance, symmetry, steady, even. But in a world that sometimes seems so out of balance; when we are in the midst of wars both in the outside world and in our own lives, equilibrium seems impossible to attain.
Yet it is possible. It begins with a breath. We may not be able to change the world, or end wars, but we can change our own inner equilibrium. We can bring balance into our lives by breathing in a slow, deep breath. I was watching a TV program about Rabbi Elimelech Goldberg who was working at a camp for children battling cancer. He was witness to their pain and discomfort while undergoing medical procedures.
One day, he was trying to soothe a 5-year-old camper screaming in pain during treatment. Goldberg a black belt in Choi Kwang-Do, taught the boy some breathing techniques, “In martial arts, you learn that pain is a message that you don’t have to listen to.” And when the nurse removed the needle after chemotherapy, he said the boy had hardly noticed.
Goldberg realized he was on to something, “When we are able to breathe through pain and imagine the pain lowering,” he said, “the brain has an amazing capacity to put us into a different place.” In 1999, Goldberg founded Kids Kicking Cancer. The program offers free martial arts classes focused on breathing techniques and meditation for children battling serious illness.
“When children get a diagnosis like cancer or any major disease, they lose any sense of feeling that they’re controlling their lives. They’re prodded and poked and touched, and they’re often so afraid. We teach kids how to control their pain and make them feel powerful.”
I watched all these kids in their white martial arts outfits taking in a focused, conscious breath and then kicking out with a foot, or chopping with an arm movement. It reminded me of equilibrium. It takes a powerful person to bring equilibrium into their lives; and it begins with a breath.
My friend, stop what you are doing and take in a deep, conscious breath. Breathe in and breathe out. Control the pain of your life and bring in balance, steadiness and stability. Breathe in whatever you need today to bring you into balance. Breathe out whatever pain you are feeling. Bring in the power to control your actions and if you need to chop the air with your arm, or kick out with your foot, do that too. Hey, you could even go take a martial arts class just to find out more about breathing techniques. Happy breathing, happy kicking, happy equilibrium.