Finding balance in life swimming with and against the current.

Swimming in the Ebro

I just got back from a long weekend adventure with my son kayaking down the river Ebro in Catalunya. My goal was to “escape” from the digital world for a few days, get back to nature and spend some quality time with my son, who’s been away at sea for the last 18 months.


Paddling down the picturesque river Ebro and sleeping in hammocks under the stars ticked the box in terms of the escape. I recently read “You are Awesome” by  Neil Pasricha, and his thoughts about the importance of having “Untouchable Days” in the pursuit of resilience resonated with me so I thought I’d try it out. After three days without phone calls, emails and social media, all substituted by natures soothing soundtrack interspersed with thoughtful, heart-warming conversation provided a balm for my busy mind and rejuvenated my soul.


After a long hot day in the kayak, it was a joy to string my hammock to the boughs of a couple of riverside trees, but before I climbed aboard for a well-earned siesta, I choose to dive in to the beautiful clear waters of the Ebro to wash away the toils of 40kms of paddling. As I waded out to the deeper water in the centre of the river, I became aware of the power of the current, I dived in and started swimming against the current. After 10 minutes of swimming flat out against the current, I flipped over and lay back to enjoy the leisurely ride back down the river before climbing out and retiring to my hammock. As I lay back gazing through the foliage, I reflected on how it felt to swim against/with the current and how this provides a helpful metaphor for life.


Stroking against the current, I felt purposeful, challenged, excited, focused, powerful and in the zone leading to a sense of fulfillment and achievement. Whereas when I flipped on my back and floated back down the river, I experienced feelings of relaxation, support, rejuvenation, awareness, mindfulness and peace from literally going with the flow.


In all aspects of life, from work to relationships through to your mental and physical well-being, you experience periods of being in the zone and times of going with the flow. They feel very different and at times may seem in conflict with each other. Your personal values may lead you to favour one rather than the other – the driven achiever vs the laid-back communicator. Yet like most things in the natural world, there’s an equilibrium to be found, a Ying and a Yang, where you find the balance that gives each one of us what we need. Making sure that we spend some time doing both is as essential as balancing sleep with wakefulness. Still in today’s hyper-connected super-intense world, it is easy to get out of kilter and surrender to the belief that we “should” always be setting goals and swimming against the current to get ahead.


The good news is we do get to choose, so it’s in our power to decide when we need to push and when to relax and rejuvenate, knowing that both states will serve us. When we get the balance right, we find that we are most effective and can perform at our best as our mind and body are in a healthy state.


The other important aspect is to be mindful, so we immerse ourselves “in the moment” both when striving and relaxing. One of my coachees is a highly successful business women who is phenomenally good at organising her life around work, family and life; however, she struggles to remain in the moment letting her internal voice interrupt her focus with constant notions of “I should be doing…”. This mental interference depletes her ability to be fully present impairing her performance and peace of mind.


If you are feeling out of balance and need some help to rediscover your equilibrium so you can get back to performing at you best and feeling at ease, please get in touch, I’d be delighted to help.



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