Mindfulness Matters

Mindfulness Matters


From the Archive :: Best of 2010 :: Being Comfortable Being Out of Balance, Performance Art by Janine Antoni

posted by Dr. Arnie Kozak

This is one of my favorite metaphors. It’s an axiom to live by: “being comfortable being out of balance.” So no matter what is happening we can be comfortable. This is equanimity in action. Here is my post from 16 August 2010.

Performance artist Janine Antoni provides a compelling image for mindfulness in life through acceptance of what is so. Mindfulness does not just magically make everything OK but it shows us, when we can stop resisting. She discovered this lesson while teaching herself to walk a tight rope. Here is what she said about the experience:

So I practiced tightroping for about an hour a day andafter about a week I started to feel like I’m now getting my balance. And as Iwas walking I started to notice that it wasn’t that I was getting morebalanced, but that I was getting more comfortable with being out of balance. 

Iwould let the pendulum swing a little bit further and rather than gettingnervous and overcompensating by leaning too much to one side I could compensatejust enough. And I thought, I wish I could do that in my life when things aregetting out of balance. You know when you have a hard day and one bad thinghappens after another? I sort of learned that I could just breathe in and sortof set myself back up onto the rope.

The other thing that was really fascinating is Istarted to learn the bottom of my feet in a way that I had never learnedbefore. If the wire is just a millimeter to one side or the other I can feel itin my arms. I started to learn all kinds of things about the skeletalstructure. About my sternum and my sacrum and how to keep them in balance. Itwas quite a beautiful process, learning to walk on the rope.

Returning to breathing is key. Tightrope walking put Janine in her body, as can any kinetic activity when done with awareness. 



  • http://louellabryant.com Ellie

    Thanks for this repost. Just what I needed at exactly this moment. How’d you know? :-)

  • Colleen

    Beautiful lesson! Arnie’s comment, “being comfortable being out of balance”, is similar to my belief and practice to be comfortable with discomfort. I’ve learned that bringing myself back into balance, often takes a shift, either in the physical body, mental state, or thought/feeling patterns. Discomfort offers a gift…an opportunity to know and recognize what needs adjusting in our lives. The information we recieve from discomfort, can lead us to better balance when we listen to the body and mind without judgement. We have the choice to complain about the discomfort, or the choice to shift or re-align whatever needs attention, as Janine does on the tightrope:>)
    I’ve noticed in this life adventure, that as soon as I get comfortable, something causes the feeling of imbalance, and I know that it is time to shift, move the energy, grow, learn and evolve in another way:>)

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