Pilates is the complete coordination of the mind, body, and spirit. Contrology is actually what the series of exercises is called but we refer to it as Pilates from the creator, Joseph Pilates himself. When starting Pilates there are lot of thoughts and emotions and feelings being experienced all at once and it’s hard to distinguish one from the other. The body can be a beginning focal point so that we move and practice the exercises. Later we can add in another layer to the mix which is the mind. Bringing awareness to how our mind can control our muscles and actions rather than the opposite.
What about the spirit? We are spirits housed inside of our bodies, we are not our bodies. Your body houses your soul. How often do you focus on your spirit? Aside from meditation I haven’t experienced many who ponder how their soul and spirit is feeling throughout the day. Stress, negative emotion, work, life, etc. can get in the way of taking the time to focus deep inside ourselves and listen to our soul.
We all have energy inside of us, it’s what gives us life, and our actions, thoughts, and emotions have an impact on this energy. In Yoga, the chakras are discussed often and are considered energy wheels. Imagine you have an energy wheel spinning inside your body, what color would it be? That color could represent a particular chakra- one that is in balance, out of balance, or blocked. If someone is having trouble with a relationship, the heart chakra could be out of balance but if they are in love it could be glowing bright. Now imagine walking down the street and being able to see the energy wheels and their colors for each person. It might help you connect with that person and then help you connect more deeply to your own inner spirit.
There seems to be a decline with human connections and technology and social media contribute to this thought. My thoughts were confirmed by Johann Hari while reading an article in USA Today. The article was actually about the recent deaths of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. Johann wrote “We exist largely disconnected from our extended families, friends, and communities- except in the shallow interactions of social media- because we are too busy trying to ‘make it’ without realizing that once we reach that goal, it won’t be enough.”
This leads me to discuss the power of meditation. Unfortunately we might look to meditation during a sad or difficult time, when we have lost hope or might be unsure of a situation. In China, the practice of meditation is started young and in schools. Meditation doesn’t have to mean shutting off your mind and sitting in a room in silence for an hour. Let’s be honest, that is very difficult to do and partly because of our current lifestyles – on the go, worrying about the next thing, rushing to get from one place to another, on our phones. If you were to go for a walk, in nature, and without any technology you would be doing a walking meditation. Take the time to listen to nature- the birds, ducks, geese, the wind, trains in the distance, it’s beautiful. Tai Chi is another form of meditation. Movements done while standing with the focus being on your breath can be a great way to start since you won’t be sitting still.
After moving to a new city and state I found myself with a lot of free time and discovered that the library offered free meditation classes. I remember the day of my first class, I almost didn’t go, but then I thought, what else will I do today? It’s an hour of my time, I have no reason not to attend. One of the most important things I learned at the meditation class is when you meditate, have no judgement. Don’t worry about being perfect, it’s a practice and we’re always learning. The same is true for Pilates.
The practice of meditation helped give me confidence. It calmed the ego inside me that was worried about finding a job, paying my bills, expectations I set for being a good wife. We all experience these thoughts and emotions and they can bear down on us, our body, and our energy. When I left the meditation class I felt awake, energized, and calm. The worry and expectations were gone and I was ready to experience the day; I was clear headed. My energy wheel was shining bright and spinning.
I’ve found that practicing meditation has helped my Pilates practice. Someone recently told me that if we don’t feel pain we are not alive. I couldn’t disagree more with that statement. If we practice meditation, listen to our soul, find our inner spirit we can feel more positive emotions instead of looking for pain. When we focus on pain we can experience it, our minds are that powerful. The meditation practice can help tame the ego that will try to say you can’t do a particular exercise, it will demolish that road block. The next time you do Pilates think about the exercise, feel the exercise, and connect to the exercise.