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Decide to remain true to yourself.


I love how the universe (or whatever you'd like to call it) creates interesting spans of synchronicity when you find yourself saying or doing or thinking something again and again. I wonder sometimes if it's just your brain stuck on repeat or a situation not resolving until you've learned the lesson. Or randomness. At any rate, I've found myself repeating a favorite line of a poem again and again recently in the course of classes and lessons, albeit slightly altered.

In the poem "There is nothing ahead" by Rumi, there is a line that reads 'The cure for the pain is in the pain." And I remember so clearly when I read that line for the first time; I felt like it pinned me to the ground! The truth of it was so elegant in its simplicity and yet so maddeningly difficult. I suppose there's any number of ways to relate to it, but the truth of it for me was this - the things you are struggling with are teaching you and making you better with the struggle itself. It's not a matter of 'when I'm better/faster/stronger/thinner it will be better. It's not about doing it 'wrong' or 'right.' The struggle itself is the teacher, and the answer, the point, and the present moment.

So often in our practice (as in life) we avoid the things that make us uncomfortable, or things we don't do well, or things that cause us pain. And of course I don't mean to imply that we should blindly carry on with things that cause us pain. That is dishonoring the body and disregarding our own innate intelligence. No, what I mean to say is this: The pain itself will tell you where the healing is. When something hurts and we move it mindfully and with compassion, the lack of pain will show us where we need to go. Or, for another example, doing an exercise that we feel we do poorly. This 'pain' tells us this is the place where we don't spend much time. This is the area that needs addressing. Our ego would tell us differently - if we do it poorly we should avoid it to subsequently avoid correction or judgement. And it's difficult to quiet the ego anytime, let alone when someone is standing over you, giving you corrections and watching your every move!

But then I come back to two quotes which also resonate very deeply for me. The first is from Shunryo Suzuki in his book Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind. He says, "These forms are not the means of obtaining the right state of mind. To take this posture itself is to have the right state of mind." It's not about doing it right. It's about doing it. Period. If you don't do it, you never improve. And to dismember it or micromanage it only serves to increase the frustration. Yet, to do the hard thing, to move and breathe and live in it; that seems to be the cure. We just have to quiet those inner critics!

The other quote is from Joseph Pilates himself, and the one I come back to with regularity. He says, "Practice your exercises diligently with the fixed and ulaterable determination that you will permit nothing else to sway you from keeping faith with yourself. At times you may feel tempted to 'take a night off.' Don't succumb to this momentary weakness of indecision, or rather, wrong decision. DECIDE TO REMAIN TRUE TO YOURSELF." Rome wasn't built in a day, he states previously, and it's this confidence in the movement itself to heal you and make you vital and strong that makes Joseph Pilates' work so powerful. He's asking you to show up not for the sake of perfecting the form, but for your own sake.

Pilates is more than the sum of it's parts, it's truthful, natural movement. And movement is the cure. And in my lessons and classes I have caught myself repeatedly saying "The cure for the work is in the work." We can't do it until we do it. So to get out of our heads, to get out of our own way, to be present in the movement and the present moment will be the answer we seek. But that means we have to show up and do it!


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