True Health | Balance Life Like a Swimming Pool
Do you think you know the secret to true healing? I do. And I’d like to describe it to you using a swimming pool as a metaphor.
I want you to picture a swimming pool. Think of the most beautiful swimming pool you’ve ever seen. This one probably doesn’t have kids playing in it all day without ever leaving the pool, just how do they hold their bladders all day for that many hours? Your vision may be on an island somewhere but there’s probably no swim up bar with people drinking tropical drinks all day. That’s another group that seems to be able to hold their bladders for a long time too. Just how do they do that?
Ok, maybe that was a bit tongue-in-cheek, let’s go back to your swimming pool. It’s beautiful. The ripples flow smoothly across the surface, the sun’s reflection dances across the top of the water. As you take in this beauty, you find that your mind is totally in the moment. It’s not wandering about tasks you need to do tomorrow, or even 5 minutes from now. Any stress you have been feeling disappears, at least momentarily. This almost has to be a piece of heaven. Rest with that thought a moment, and truly enjoy it.
Let’s look a little deeper into the swimming pool now. How do swimming pools work? We fill them up with water, then we blend in the proper mix of chemicals to ensure that the swimming pool is perfectly balanced. There are skimmer boxes around the edge of the pool that capture items like leaves, bugs, and small branches that fall into the pool. There’s also a filter that is constantly running, taking out some of the minute particles like sweat and sunscreen that find their way into the pool. On a daily basis, we empty the debris from the skimmer baskets and we test the water to ensure that it is remaining balanced. That’s it. As long as we perform this routine maintenance on a daily basis, our swimming pool will continue to shimmer and sheen, just waiting for us to dive in for a refreshing dip.
What happens when we aren’t quite as diligent about the routine tasks? At first, nothing. If you look out at the pool from your bedroom window, it still looks absolutely pristine. You can’t tell that the skimmer box is almost full and won’t be able to skim yet another leaf. You can’t tell that the filter is so full of extra sediment that it is struggling to do its job to keep the pool clean. Nope, you can’t tell. Everything looks absolutely fine. And it is. On the outside. But make no mistake, trouble is a-brewing.
The next morning you look out the same bedroom window to a drab green pool, loaded with algae. You can barely stand to look any longer. You go out to investigate further. You can’t see the bottom of the pool because it is so murky. You ask yourself how this could have “just happened overnight”. Deep down you know what happened. You know it didn’t just happen overnight. If you had taken care of the pool in the first place, this never would have happened. If you had simply spent 5-10 minutes each morning for proper maintenance and balancing, you’d still have that pristine, shimmering, glistening pool. But you don’t.
After beating yourself up for a while, you decide to take action. It’s time to pull out all the stops. You clean out the skimmer baskets, you backwash the pool to clean out the filter, you skim the leaves off the surface, and then you shock the pool by throwing in a high amount of chemicals in order to bring it back into balance. After a day or so, the pool returns to its original luster and you remind yourself to take better care of it next time.
And as long as you do take care of it, as long as you keep it in balance, as long as you spend just a few minutes a day to perform regular maintenance, it will maintain its beauty and be there when you need that refreshing dip after a long, hard day on the golf course. That’s pretty much the life of a swimming pool.
How does this relate to true healing?
I think if we look at ourselves like we do a swimming pool, there are an incredible number of similarities and that’s why I like the metaphor so much.
For the moment, let’s assume that the startup work has been completed and we find ourselves in a well-balanced state. If we do the required maintenance on an ongoing basis, we will remain in a balanced state. We have a fairly good idea of what regular maintenance is. We eat a healthy diet, we get our share of exercise in whatever fashion we are able to, we keep stress under control, we strike a healthy balance between work and play. These are all part of the regular maintenance that we are well aware of, and if we manage these factors well enough, we increase the chances that we will remain in a balanced state and live a healthy life, free of algae, or in our case, dis-ease.
If we start to get a bit out of balance, there are lots of options available to help bring us back into balance. We remind ourselves to improve our eating, we get a bit more exercise, maybe we even take a vacation. All of these will help bring us back into balance.
If we aren’t reasonably diligent at doing the maintenance work, it’s roughly equivalent to throwing a few leaves in the pool or forgetting to empty the skimmer box, or backwash the filter. We’re going to get away with it for a while, but if we keep ignoring things and get further and further out of balance, something has to give. All of a sudden, boom! Algae in the form of illness or dis-ease shows up, seemingly overnight. We go through various stages of anger, pity, remorse, we wonder how could it happen to me; these are all very natural reactions. Then it’s time to take action, it’s time to shock the pool.
Depending on the amount of algae in the pool, or in this case, the degree of the illness or dis-ease, will have an impact on our next steps. In some cases, it may still not be too late to bring the body back into balance by taking better care of ourselves and doing what we know has to be done. In other cases, we may be in all out crisis mode, seeking out all possible medical assistance in order to manage the immediate situation. In either case, the work gets done to bring the body back into balance at least temporarily. But if we don’t get back into the practice of doing the regular maintenance, if we don’t clean out the filters, then the whole process starts up again and we’re setting ourselves up to receive another wake-up call.
One more thought about the similarities between our bodies and a swimming pool. Would you stand over your swimming pool all day every day to catch every single leaf that dropped in the pool? Would you test the water 5 times a day to make sure it remained in balance? Would you ask people to shower off every bit of dirt or sunscreen before they jumped in the pool? You wouldn’t do these things because they’re not necessary. That amount of maintenance is not required to keep your pool in balance. The inner workings of a swimming pool are designed to handle these things as long as the system is kept in balance and in good working order. Well the same applies to the body. If you’re going to stress out over every single piece of food that you eat, every drink that you partake in, every negative thought that you have, then you’re sliding into over-maintenance. All that is required is to keep the body in balance, to keep the pumps and filters working at high efficiency. The body is designed to work well at high efficiency, it does not demand 100% efficiency.
While some of this may seem overly simplistic, in basic principle this is how our bodies are meant to work. And I think this is the secret to true healing. Keep things in balance, algae does not grow in a balanced swimming pool. And if things get out of balance, do what’s necessary to bring things back into balance, then get back in the habit of performing the regular required maintenance.
Have a pleasant dip.
I’d love to hear your thoughts in the Comments section below.
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