Some days are incredibly beautiful and others not so much. There are ups and downs. There can be falls, but also fantastic fun. The fall/fun factor is really a matter of learning… or not learning. It’s our choice.
As life is a lot like skiing, here are a few ski principles everyone can learn from — whether or not snow is involved.
Look where you want to go.
Whether you are walking, driving, riding a bike or skiing, you tend to move in the direction you are looking. When skiing, it’s important to remember to look in the direction of the next turn — and the next turn will always be downhill somewhere in front of you. Also, don’t look at your feet! Looking down when you should be looking up is an invitation to trouble.
Looking where you want to go is like moving through life with your head up and eyes open.
In life, it’s also important to look ahead and embrace the value of what is coming… much more than trying to hang onto the past. What are you looking at? Positive or negative, you will tend to move in that direction. If you’re feeling a little out of control, try making sure that you’re looking at what you actually want instead of being distracted by negative things.
Turn more often — you’ll get better at it.
Many skiers are good at wiggling without ever really making a turn. Wiggling simply makes us go left or right but always scooting downhill… faster and faster! Turning, however, makes us go across the hill and controls our speed. Skilled skiers know how to “finish a turn.” At the end of each turn there’s a moment when the skis are pointing uphill a bit, which provides great speed control. Going really fast is actually pretty easy; gravity does all the work. Wiggling down the mountain can be a lot of fun, but there also must be some real turning going on, too.
Turning more often and finishing your turns is like living with a plan and owning the skills to make the plan into reality.
In life, it’s just as important to be in control of our speed and direction — in relationships, work, schooling and self-understanding. If you feel a bit out of control, remember to actually turn. Make a real commitment. Do more than make little attempts to change where you’re headed that don’t control how fast you’re moving. Having the skill and honesty to “finish a turn” by going back and slowing things down a bit is where control lives.
In skiing and in life, if you cannot turn when you want to turn, or stop when you want to stop, you are out of control — even if you try to convince yourself otherwise.
Keep your CoM over your BoS.
When you move your body, you also move your parts and pieces in a way that helps you not fall over. In ski instructor speak, we call that keeping our center of mass (CoM) over our base of support (BoS). When the middle of your weight (usually a bit above your belly button) is over your feet, you’re balanced. You can bring your feet under your middle, move your middle over your feet, or do both in order to be balanced while moving.
The more you’re moving, the more important it is to keep your CoM over your BoS. How? Well, you bend (and unbend) your ankles, knees and hips. You turn your legs and adjust the location of your upper body and all of its bits. Being able to keep your CoM over your BoS allows you to stay in balance. And being in balance allows you to make all the adjustments needed to move your parts and pieces without falling down. Things are always moving… and balance is not a pose!
Keeping your CoM over your BoS is like living a balanced life.
In life, your base of support can be family, work, sports, faith, friends, education — any number of things. The things you do (as opposed to the things you say) typically represent your parts and pieces — your center of mass. Unsurprisingly, these are often the same things that create your BoS. Things that strengthen you make the best base of support.
How do you know if you are balanced? You spend more time doing what you want to do instead of what you have to do. However, what was balanced a moment ago has to change because everything else is always changing. If you feel out of balance, perhaps you’ve been trying to keep things as they were (the pose) rather than making adjustments to the parts and pieces of your life for true balance.