The Kensho Manifesto
The word manifesto makes me feel like I'm a radical revolutionary, blazing trails and smiting folks. Yes, smiting. As in, I smote him/her. Or - I was smitten. Which makes me sound like a heart sick teenager, not congruent with the warrior woman image I have going on here. But I digress.
As I fall/fly from the nest into my own endeavors, I've been spending a lot of time thinking about what exactly it is I am about when it comes to my Pilates teaching. And beyond even Pilates, what I hope to offer the world that is necessary and useful and in alignmnet with my passions and ideals. I am definitely passionate about offering something that truly helps people, that makes their life better in a real way. But there are a lot of ways to help people, so I had to think some more about what that meant. While the list is by no means complete, and I will continue to add, subtract, and revise as necessary, I wanted to share with everyone interested what Kensho seeks to stand for.
First, it might be helpful to define what the word 'Kensho' is. It's a Buddhist term, Japanese specifically, and it translates as "seeing nature." It means seeing one's own true nature; perceiving the self. The kensho experience is a pure realization without duality of "seer" and "the thing seen." Kensho is often spoken of as an initial or opening experience of enlightenment that requires further realization and deepening. I chose this term because of my belief that one of the hardest things to do in life is to see your own self with clarity. We have a lot of hopes and expectations about ourselves and how we are perceived, but a lot of delusions too. And as the previous sentence implied, we very often are more concerned with others' perception of us than we are with truly knowing ourselves. Too often we are blind to the good and overly critical, or else the opposite is true and we choose to ignore a weakness because it doesn't jive with how we want to see ourselves. I truly believe that Joseph Pilates, when he created a 'Mind Body' modality, sought to achieve what the term Kensho stands for. To be self aware in an honest way, to treat our bodies and minds as an indivisable entity, and create a system that would empower people to know themselves, and, in doing so, have a clearer understanding on how to best achieve and maintain health.
So that's what the name means. But what is Kensho Body and Mind? I'm happy you asked. And this is where the manifesto comes in. You could call it a mission statement I suppose, but I like manifesto better. Anyway, there are 8 parts, currently, and I'm excited to share them with you!
At Kensho Body and Mind, we believe:
1. Fitness is a pre-requisite, not an end game.
As former prima balleria and somatic expert Lillian Jarvis stated so elequently, "What we’re talking about, then, is “fit”-ness in the sense that the word fit implies, which is, according to one dictionary, “suitable, appropriate, adapted to an end, prepared or put in order for.” We talk of food, for example, as being fit — or unfit — for human consumption, water being fit to drink, and so on. The distinction should be made, therefore, between cardiovascular fitness, which results from activities, and “fit”-ness which is a condition in which the body is prepared, or ready for activities." I choose to use the definition of 'fitness' as being prepared for and able, rather than as an elusive thing that must be sought. Life can't be lived well if we are not 'fit' to do so.
2. Exercise is the stuff of life, not what we show up to do in a class or at the gym.
I believe exercise as we commonly understand the term is a simulation of activity, a bit like children playing house with their dolls. We as a species have become so overwhelmingly sedentary that we then create facilities to go to and simulate the activities of what an active life would look like, albeit for an hour or less at a time in most cases. And this hour a day cannot possibly be as effective as an active life. However we have slipped so far into disuse and disrepair that we can longer simply take up activites without consequence. We are too de-conditioned, too out of touch with our bodies and the correct use of our parts. Pilates and other mind/body somatic modalities are the primer, the owner's manual, the 'in' we need to ensure we are 'fit' to go out to live our lives with zest and pleasure.
3. You are a better health care provider than any doctor, hospital, or insurance company.
In a perfect world with unicorns and puppies, we would all be so in touch with and aware of our bodies that when things went awry we could correct the situation and re-establish health. Only you can have a first-person perspective of your body and mind, and that will always be more powerful than the third-person view. But we have lost touch with ourselves, and have given our power to those you can't possibly know what it's like to be us. While they act with good intention (we hope), they lack the perspective that only you have. We must reclaim this power, this responsibility, to achieve and sustain our health. Power to yourself!
4. Mind/body awareness and connection is the ideal way to treat pain, stay active, prevent disease, and life an optimal life.
Can I get an amen?
5. There's no one way to know something. Variety is the spice of life.
There's more than one way to break an egg, as the saying goes, and the same is true for knowing yourself. Pilates is a unique method that stands alone within the mind/body somatic modalities, but is definitely not the only way. Yoga, Tai chi, Qigong, Aikido, Somatic Stretch, Feldenkrais, Alexander, Ideokinesis, Rosen Method, Dance Therapy, and Body Mind Centering are all powerful tools that seek the same ends, and this is by no means a definitive list. I am interested in anything that helps us know ourselves better and helps us achieve and maintain health, and we have much to share with each other. In my perfect world with unicorns and puppies, we can co-exist under one roof and become a powerful resource for self-health!
6. Committing to yourself is the best thing you could ever do!
To not fully commit to your self and your health is to deny life. I don't feel we can fully live until we make our selves a priority, THE priority. As they say, put on your own oxygen mask before you assist others, am I right?
7. You should never stop moving and never stop learning.
If you're moving, you're invigorating your body. When you're learning you're invigorating your mind. If you're doing both at the same time, you're living the dream! The longer I study the mind and body, the more I know I'll never know it all. But it makes me want to try! It keeps me motivated to be my best self.
8. Education and health care should be affordable.
I strive to make necessary tools like Pilates more accessible to more people. To this end I will never stop trying to find ways to make it affordable. We need smart minds and healthy bodies in the world - it will make the world a better place. Placing the tools beyond the grasp of those who need them is like shooting ourselves in the foot. Pilates and health for everybody!
Have thoughts about my manifesto? Feel free to share your comments below, and thanks for your interest in Kensho Body and Mind!