One day an acrobat told his assistant to climb onto his shoulders for their balancing act, telling her to watch out for his balance and he would watch out for hers. She replied that she couldn’t possibly control his balance. What she could do was maintain her balance as well as she could. If he went out of balance her inner focus on her own balance would allow him to more easily come back into his own.
This story was told twenty-five hundred years ago by the Buddha, and was as relevant today when I told it to a client as it was back then. What he is telling us is that it is important to pay attention to our own mindfulness and well-being, because it is where we have the most control. Though to some people it may look selfish when we are setting boundaries and practicing good self care, the truth is that if we go out of balance we inevitably have a negative impact on others. If the master is constantly wobbling and tiring himself in his attempt to control something he can’t (his assistant’s balance), his assistant is more like to wobble herself and fall off.
We are inextricably connected in a web of interdependence. When we practice for ourselves, we can then be there for others with caring, compassion and wisdom.