Are you there?
The other day, after dropping my kids at school, I was driving through the town to the Studio. I took the usual route… at least I guess… I did all the things you are supposed to do (giving priority, stopping at the red light)… at least I hope so – as, in fact, at one of the crossings, I have suddenly realized that I had no memories whatsoever about my journey so far. This is a great and, at the same time, frightening example, of how we might often ‘not be there’ in the moment in our life.
‘Being there’, as opposed to this, is called ‘mindfulness’. This happens to me when I try to explain something to my kids or when I give a class and all my senses are sharpened to focus on my own moves, explain the exercises properly for you, and see how you are doing, whether anyone needs assistance. This is what we feel when we are reading a page-turner and when we are, in general, immersed in tasks that rather feel like a reward than a tiresome challenge. In short: when we do what we like.
However, it is not always so easy to find this state of mind that is often referred to as ‘the flow’. We might be pressed or constantly distracted by the people surrounding us, or stressed by an environment full of noise. We might have been so busy for a longer time already that we forgot about how to have some time and space for ourselves when we can fully focus on one thing – the thing that we want.
Pilates and Mindfulness…
Now, how does Pilates come into the picture?
For me, Pilates is one of the great ways to find my path back to the ability of being mindful.
Why am I saying this? Not only because Pilates is the passion of my life, however, this is certainly a key element in making me able to feel ‘the flow’. This might not be the case for you, however, and I am still pretty certain that it works as a path for you, too. To see why, we have to look into what we are exactly doing when doing Pilates.
First of all, when you decide to come to a class, you dedicate time to yourself. Time that is exclusively yours, and when your only task is to pay attention to your body and your mind. When you silence your phone and when there are no kids, colleagues or anyone else around, except for the people whose goals are exactly the same as yours.
Then, by carrying out the exercises, you are actually practicing the state of mindfulness and the skill of being mindful.
“The Pilates Method of Body Conditioning is the complete co-ordination of body, mind and spirit”. – Joseph Pilates
We have to learn to breathe in a specific way, and harmonize breathing with the exercises. We have to listen to our instructor, and, at the same time, try to imitate the movements, making clear distinction between which muscles to tense and which ones to relax. Such coordination requires an absolute focus of the mind, and a kind of attention that covers a wide range of things starting from our instructor’s words through our own movements to how we actually feel, all of them being connected to a single goal: performing Pilates exercises.
We ‘are there’. We ‘tune in’ on the moment. We act consciously. And we ‘feel’.
This is exactly what mindfulness is about. That’s why Pilates is exercising not only your body, but your mind and your ability of being mindful as well.