My Pilates Lessons:

Be gentle.  Be kind.  Be forgiving.  Stay humble.  In every moment.  Toward each and every thing, living and not.  For every thought, every action, every word is reflected back into yourself.

This is what I’ve learned in the past few days, in three different ways.  First, in the most personal way, for my own body and the thoughts that I keep secret (mostly even from myself).  Secondly, in my work with a dear client.  And thirdly, from my current birds eye view of the broader Pilates community in which I used to be much more participatory.

I am blessed with getting to know Rupam Henry.  She brings a powerful blend of knowledge and spiritual intuition to her work with plants and our bodies.  She shared a mantra with me in relation to supporting my breasts which has had a powerful impact in just three days of practice.  Mostly because I realized how unkind, harsh, and unforgiving I’ve been with my body.  Directing words of apology, love, and gratitude toward my body has given me the opportunity to face all that internalized negativity and replace it with loving support.  I have read similar recommendations in the past (mostly in Louise Hay’s writings), but hearing the words in person really brought the message home to me and I was in a receptive place to try it out.  So often I’ve found this to be the case, that I come across plenty of information that sounds compelling and yet I do not take the step to implement it in my own life.  Until I have an experience.  Today I’m feeling particularly grateful for such experiences, they really have made the difference in my life time and again.

Last week, something came up for a dear client of mine.  I’ve been noticing a way in which she engages her muscles which indicates to me inhibition and tension rather than coordination and optimal function.  So for quite a while I’ve been attempting to help her change that pattern.  But my attempts were in vain.  But last week I said something that sounded an alarm for her because I pointed out that perhaps there was an emotional component to what was happening physically, and so she dug into what was happening with two other practitioners who also offer her support.  I had the opportunity to hear from one of those practitioners and while there was a lot of information shared, what I came away with was be gentle and be kind.  An excellent reminder.  Our bodies are so sensitive, they contain so much.  And we are blind to most of it.  It really is best to approach our bodies with gentleness and kindness.  As a teacher I am always trying to facilitate this.  But sometimes my message gets lost in translation.  Yesterday when my client and I reviewed what had happened over the week, I began to see that I had been unwittingly leading her toward a very different experience than the one I intended for her to have.  Clearly, I hadn’t realized this.  And neither had she until I made the observation about the possibility of an emotional component to what was happening.  I spent some time feeling badly for having contributed to her frustrating experiences by continuing down a path that wasn’t working for her.  But then I remembered to be kind, gentle, and forgiving to myself.  And furthermore, I realized that even though some frustrations were faced head on, a resolution was the final destination.  The two other practitioners helped tremendously, my client found some more information online that helped her to do what I’d been trying in vain to get her to do.  All was well.  I have some new information to learn since my client passed on the resources that had been so helpful to her, and I have yet more gratitude for the support of those two practitioners, since in helping my client they also helped me.

The interpersonal dynamics within the Pilates community seem to be in a state of dramatic expression right now.  While all I know of this is what I read in perhaps a string of 10 comments at a time on an online forum (I believe that the thread I was reading had several hundred – ugh), it is upsetting nonetheless.  I am reminded of past arguments which have reached the status of legend, and of the few to which I’ve had more immediate exposure.  Perhaps, it makes sense to point out that everybody exposed to these heated and dramatic interactions is affected.  I have often wished that the people who participated would have considered this simple truth.  Because whatever upset they felt compelled to express harshly has left it mark.  And I wonder what the ultimate gain in the original expression was.  Was it simply to vent some emotion?  If so, I’d like to suggest that perhaps that’s better done in a more contained arena.  Was it meant to make an important philosophical point?  If so, I’d recommend more editing and consultation in the ways political discourse, as there are savvy ways to convey seemingly indigestible pieces of truth.  But I digress, as it is so easy to do when sensitivities have been inflamed.  My main point is this:  be gentle, be kind, be forgiving, stay humble.  From that place I think that we will all find a way of doing the work that clearly means so much to us.  And from building real bonds of collegiality which will only strengthen our resolve to do the work that we love.  I think also, that if we bear those four tips in mind we’ll also come to an even more important and life-altering realization:  that the only one hurting us is us.  I believe that it was Byron Katie who really gave me the framework for understanding this essential truth to the workings of our minds:  that our thoughts, rather than the circumstances of the external world, are what do us in.

It’s been up on the shelf above my computer for a couple years at least, because it’s a notion that merits frequent consideration given how easy I make it for my mind to run a muck:  If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself but your own estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.  – Marcus Aurelius

I wish each person who reads this blessings for a beautiful day and a beautiful life.

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