Twelve senses—sense of balance
Sunday, February 10, 2013
This week we move on to the sense of balance, the third of the four foundational senses. The sense of balance is closely related to the sense of movement, which we will speak about next week. Balance is, of course, related to the ears, and to those three amazing sets of semicircular canals that help us orient ourselves in the three planes of space (right-left, up-down and forward-back). When you think about it, it is astounding that we can stand upright on the small surfaces of the soles of our feet and usually not tip over. This ability to stand upright is one of the things that defines us as human and is one of the three gifts of humanity that develops during the first three years of life—walking, speaking and thinking. Think about how different a child’s world becomes as he becomes upright. He sees the world in a different way and is free to use hands and arms in many different ways. It allows for the possibility of free mobility in a new way. The sense of balance allows us to meet the outer world. We need the earth—or something –to balance on. We can’t balance in the air, and it is difficult to balance in water with no ground beneath.
Steiner also compares balance to the sense of justice, and we often see justice portrayed as a scale or balance. Just as we strive for balance in our physical bodies, we also strive for balance in our soul life; we look for order and harmony in the world. Steiner says it is our inner sense of balance combined with compassion. “The equanimity that is the outgrowth of the sense of balance is characterized above all by openness and relatedness.” Soul balance, or equilibrium also leads to a sense of self esteem. Henning Kohler writes that to support this soul balance, we should remember that every child is doing the best he can and should be treated with compassion rather than criticism.
If your sense of balance is disturbed, you also lose the sense of yourself. In The Twelve Senses by Albert Soesman, he talks about how we fill the space around us with ourselves and this is how we balance. He talks about how someone with a fear of heights does not fill that space below, so they feel out of balance. If a child’s sense of balance is not healthy, she never feels at home in space. Think about sometime when you were dizzy. It is hard to think or to relate to anyone else, let alone listen to a teacher or learn anything. Watch how sometimes children spin until they get so dizzy that they fall down. They are learning about and developing their sense of balance. Children need lots of opportunities to move freely to develop a healthy sense of balance.