I fall into expansion. My chains loosen, then dissolve for the moment. A seed of truth, buried too long in depths I could not access, comes to light. New perspective is born, and life and spirit inhale the infinite. Here, I wear existence like a dazzling garb, lean into the wind, and let my heels leave the ground.
I fall into contraction. My body curls up on raw and rugged ground. Chaos and fear surface, join hands and dance. Their song is familiar, written long ago from bottomless wounds. The world shrinks; the air stagnates. There is nothing to be done but lie quiet and still, soft like an animal, and listen to that which is asking to be heard.
We continuously dance through moments of expansion, moments of contraction, and all the space between these two ends.
Our body flows with these rhythms as well. We experience days when our energy is expansive. We feel strong and balanced in our bodies, and move with vibrancy and ease. Then, we live days of contraction. We are tired, weak, and locked up in our tissues and muscles. And, more often, we move and spiral between these two extremes.
I wonder how many of us honor the rhythms of our body and spirit. I, certainly, have struggled with learning and befriending my rhythms, and coming to understand how valuable to growth they are. We have been conditioned to believe that we should consistently feel “good” mentally, emotionally, and physically. If we do not, there is a problem. Perhaps we even feel shame, as if we are somehow failing. Solutions surround us, promising stability and happiness- take the antidepressant, go to the gym often, invest in a relationship, and secure yourself in a nice house.
Yet there is nothing consistent or stable about life, other than the fact that everything is always changing. So, instead of trying to create a continual state of feeling "good," can we ease into the truth of life and who we are; and thereby honor the vast, rich, and varied experience of being human, which encompasses all kinds of states?
There is wisdom in softening into our difficult days and struggles, whether they are physical or spiritual. When we accept the truth of how we feel, we no longer have to live with resistance, which requires immense energy. We then carve out space for relief, and our body and mind can relax into their reality. Our feet soften into the true domain of where we stand, no longer having to pretend to trek some “ideal” path. We can then, in turn, release the judgements we hold against ourselves, as we recognize they were based upon a preconceived idea, an illusion in fact, of what and where we should be.
So what does this have to do with Pilates?
Pilates can be a wonderful anchor through the wild, diverse terrain of life. We adapt the method to match our present reality. The movements can be molded into a gentle and nurturing hour, and so we are able to practice even when we feel weak and tender, or are injured. And on days when we feel strong and want to “leap,” Pilates can deliver that joyful and challenging workout that pushes us in the healthiest of ways.
I recognize so much beauty in Pilates- not only because is it remarkable at balancing the body, but also because it has the capacity to support us continuously. It holds us through our moments of expansion, contraction, and everything in between. How many things in life can do that for us?