Kensho – Year 1, Or: The Terrifying Freedom of Self-Responsibility
It’s been 1 year since the doors officially opened for Kensho Body and Mind Pilates Studio. The current me is happy to report to the nervous and stressed me of one year ago that I have managed to keep the lights on and the rent paid. As I take stock of what this year has taught me, I need to acknowledge that victory first. Worst-case scenario averted – Whew!
I’ve been doing some reflecting as we venture into year 2, and thought I’d share a few things.
I see, foremost, I couldn’t have come up with a better name than Kensho. It encapsulates my theory for the meaning of life, my goal, my journey, and my hope for others all in one enigmatic word. It is my loftiest self-challenge, and my offering to the world. As is often the case with foreign words, the literal translation doesn’t really tell the whole story. Kensho literally means ‘seeing nature.’ The nature in question is not outdoors, however. Kensho refers to an experience of enlightenment about our own nature, a clear glimpse of our true self. And the tagline for the studio is the simplest explanation I could come up with – ‘Know Your Self.’ Like Joseph Pilates’ book title “Return To Life” it is both an inspiring idea and a call to action. Simple, and endlessly challenging. Just the way I like it. Like Pilates. Like life.
As I try to follow my own path and journey toward knowing myself, I feel a lot of doubt. I feel the pressure to conform to societal expectations. I feel the constraints of my conditioning, the anxiety of my need to please. Nobody ever said knowing your self would mean only the happy, pretty parts. No, seeing your true self means seeing it all, truly. Not what my ego wants. Not what society wants. Not what my loved ones want. I struggle to see it, to look without flinching (more than necessary), and to accept it. All of it.
I found myself worried that struggling and doubting meant I was not being true to myself. What I have discovered, however, is the opposite. There is a terrible seduction in believing what others tell you to. It’s easy. It’s orderly. It’s rewarded by society. Yes, you feel the internal disparity of it, but complying is always the path of less resistance. To be willing to peel away the layers of defense, history, trauma, education, conditioning, ego and expectation to see what’s left is an act of courage. It requires strength. It requires honesty.
It requires us to experience the terrifying freedom of self-responsibility. If we must follow our own true compass and not follow blindly, it means we must shoulder the burden of being accountable for ourselves – thoughts, dreams, desires, actions, health. Conformity is safe. Freedom is anything but. We all think we want to be our own captain, but it’s not until the reality arrives that we realize what a responsibility it is. We must confront the fact that the greatest obstacle to our own health and happiness is ourselves.
And the biggest surprise so far? How something so unique and personal as your own true self is, in fact, the key to unlocking compassion and understanding toward every living thing. The marvel of looking within is realizing the similarities matter more than the differences. Seeing your self means recognizing your self in everyone else.
And to sum up my lessons from this past year, I would say this: It’s going to take time (patience), you have to stay with it (consistency), and you’re going to need help (community). Which sounds like just good general advice. It’s true in every aspect of our lives, and certainly true of Pilates, and health.