When contemplating the new year post, I didn’t want to be trite. We all aspire to improve ourselves every day and as we go into a new year we resolve to do so. You can find those tips EVERYWHERE on the internet if you’re interested in how to create effective new year’s resolutions. We have a great life coach here who can spend time with you to help you do that as well but I thought I’d use this public forum to share my personal experiences and insights and maybe it will inspire, maybe not, but at least all y’all will know that I am injured and maybe think about the benefits of slowing down.
I love how life gives you lessons, if you're noticing. I
think am pretty sure I had not been noticing lately so I needed a stop-you-in-your-tracks-spine injury to make me pause and accept doing nothing. Making time to focus on caring for myself, to genuinely be grateful for my baseline strength and health of my body, to make me be uncomfortable with my natural tendencies by being uncomfortable (in pain), to get lots of sleep and let go of getting shit done-TO RELAX. Deeply and truly. Oh I eventually studied, watched some Netflix but mostly I meditated and contemplated. The studying didn’t come right away, I had to my head right and getting my head right was NOT instantaneous. There was A LOT of struggle and some crying and some existential questions about who I am if I can’t move, but I won’t bore you with all that. Through chaos comes change.
I love my mom. She gave me so many wonderful gifts both by nature and by nurture, probably more by nurture. That is what a mother does after all, she nurtures. Without being asked, my mother indoctrinated me into the Cult of Productivity. We LOVE getting shit done. An early thought was, "Yay! I can get so much shit done lying in bed with my iPad" but my body didn't let me, then I listened to my body-mostly.... I was reluctantly letting go of getting shit done. There was a lot of emotional struggle with accepting doing nothing. Lots. My rational self knows that the nervous system/muscles need work, education and stimulation balanced with rest and deep breathing. I knew I had just experienced great trauma and needed rest and meditation. My emotional self hated it. So I tuned inside and practiced shambhala meditation for longer than I ever have before. I find that shambhala helps you know your mind, it teaches you to use your mind as your ally not your foe. Prior to learning shambhala, most of the meditation I practiced had me focusing on something to keep your mind steady, which is valuable but for a mind like mine, it is simply another distraction. Don't get me wrong contemplative meditation has value, but the self knowledge isn’t there like with shambhala. Working in is SO MUCH harder than working out.
As grown women with daughters we can see both the inherited traits we love and don't love (as my husband enjoys pointing out!) manifesting themselves in ourselves. When my daughter shines, I see things that I know I have given her, and in turn, I glow. I am also aware of the things I've given her that I don't love about myself that maybe even came from her grandmother. She has a unique perspective to our similarities and differences and a lot of wisdom at 10 1/2.
While on our recent ski vacation, Stella was riding high on her ski lesson accolades after their first lesson, especially since she performed much better than her little brother, who can make her feel inferior on family mountain bike rides. That first day she was as graceful as a swan on the snow as he is on the trail on his bike and she LOVED it, and she was, at first, quietly dancing with the fact that she was a better skier than him. Her confidence was soaring, and then that confidence became comparative and unkind toward her brother, so I had a little talk with her about her overconfidence and Grace, and the intentions of her words etc...
The night Chad and I returned from the hospital (and she knew I was alright) I gave a brief explanation of how I came to fracture the transverse processes of my lumbar my spine, tear up my medial knee, break my wrist and strain ligaments in my hand after only 3 hours on the slopes) that, "I thought I was in control and clearly I wasn't" she promptly responded, "you were overconfident". I think she said more, but I immediately went into my head about just how poignant it all was. I, of course, was in the stage of comforting myself with deeper meaning that I couldn't simply accept that I was an overconfident novice. Eventually, I came to play with confidence, control, knowledge, trust and their interplay not only in myself but as concepts. To have true confidence, you need knowledge, like for example, a ski lesson.
I’ve always known that if I could only be present all the time, all would be bliss in my world, but we are complex creatures- I’ll just keep striving for it. The reoccurring theme in my recent education and exposure to the broader Pilates world has been presence, relaxation and not forcing, trusting the intelligence of our bodies to organize properly. It has been difficult to dettach from old ways of doing things in my professional practice but I have, and it has been liberating and so much fun to see quicker results with my clients. I have an understanding that the result of doing things in a new way is a lot more fun. Especially after this experience, my continually evolving interpretation of Contrology is even shifting. I've read and re-read Joe's (Joseph Pilates) work over the years and I've previously come into it with a pre-judgement of a stereotypical germanic order and dogma- a hardess. Just picking it up yesterday, I read it with more softness, a greater understanding of his big picture. When not stressed, I’m happy, my attitude shifts and life is lighter. To move, as Joe would say, with "spontaneous zest and pleasure" is an attitude, and does not come with forcing or constant bracing. Perhaps the pathway comes with some forcing of yourself out of old habits, some discomfort some lack of ease, but on the other side is the magic, the flow. The process involves asserting oneself, moving toward mastery, and Knowing to truly have control. Control comes from self knowledge, knowledge absorbs best in a calm and relaxed state, real control needs presence. Presence is found in breathing and moving slower, not just physically, but mentally. When we oov, we move slowly. Our nervous system can create change when it can take in information. For me, slowing down has created some genuine change, but only by working through the chaos of the process. I'm not worried about my injuries, I have confidence that if I give my body the things it needs it will reorganize and heal properly. I've helped hundreds of people through this process over the years.
When I reflect on my daily stressors it comes back to all the things I feel I need to get done and the center of that stress is some forcing, (=fake control) not trusting or reacting without presence. I’m letting go of the feeling that, if I don’t do it, who is going to do it?! or not knowing when I would possibly have time to get it all done?! Of course there is the practical matter of life/family/business tasks, but to lose the frantic feeling of being out of control, it is necessary for me trust. And to trust I need to slow down, pause, and actually create the knowledge base of what is most important and take the time to discern how tasks can get accomplished and trust that if I delegate tasks to others, they can get it done. I find this in my most important relationship daily and have become more aware of his reaction to my attempts to control what he does with his time. I’m needing to let go and trust that things will get done without asking or they won’t and then being ok with that. It is hard, but not as hard as it was 3 weeks ago.
For 2017, I hope that each of you can count your blessings, be grateful everyday, slow down, breathe deeply often get less done.