“It rains, it shines, it moves”
Mabel Elsworth Todd (1880 – 1956), „The Thinking Body” (1937)
One of the most demanding, challenging and rewarding still on-going processes so far in my journey with Pilates and the school that I work for is the recognition that whenever I “do” some exercise or workout, I interfere with a fine tuned, much more intelligent system, that gives me much better results when left to work by itself.
Our bodies always look for the least energy expenditure. This is how we could run and walk whole days, every day not needing more than 2500 / 2000 kcals (m/f).
If we use more energy for our every day life, or in our work-outs and intense training periods, it is because we ask our bodies to work harder than needed. As our body is our most faithful lover, it gives us always what we ask for. It might complain, sometimes ever louder, but it cannot say no. So we do movement, we think we know how, we have done it before.
But how about we do not really know how it is done? How about there is a better way that we know nothing about? Can we use what we know to find a solution to a completely new problem? One we haven’t come across yet? Or do we need to experiment with and allow for a solution we know nothing about?
Rather then telling our body how it is done, because we think we know, how about listening and becoming curious about a different way?
How about we let go off wanting to do something and become like the passenger in a taxi with driver in a new town? Everything then suddenly starts to run smoothly.
Not knowing where to go in that new town, the only thing you would ask of the driver (being the unconscious brain that uses 97% of our brain-power) and the car (being our body) would be to get you to a certain destination. Everything else for you to do is to sit back and watch and wonder, as the streets go by, and you are amazed how this driver without any GPS and map can navigate the most intricate by-roads and road networks of this town of three billion inhabitants to get you exactly to where you want to be, in the quickest time possible with the most efficient use of fuel.
You though are convinced you know how to do it so you try it yourself. You get into the car, with a GPS that has not been updated or an older map. You therefore only use the big roads, the obvious ones, and the ones that seem right somehow, where you feel safe. You run into traffic jam after traffic jam, into roadblocks and dead-ends and you arrive much later. Or you are not even getting there because you ran out of petrol somewhere along the way, pushing the car with your last bit of strength to the next filling station, and collapsing in the nearby hotel to try again tomorrow.
The former is how we should move. We are the passengers. We have the power to give one command at the time and one only, our conscious mind (3-5 % of brain-power) cannot hold on to more than one thought at the time.
You have to really focus this one thought though, it does not help the driver if you tell him you do not want to get to the airport and neither to the market square or the cathedral; or to tell him to drive you to all of these at once.
So stepping back and allowing for movement to happen, focussing my awareness and directing my one thought so efficiently that everything falls into place is a humbling experience and still a big challenge.
I am a doer and a head person, nothing is further away from my comfort zone than this, and I did not want to believe it for quite some time. Whenever I felt less than 100% though, having less energy to give my training routine, everything was going easy, with the little energy I felt I had, I could do even the more challenging exercises. I just did not have the energy to fight this experience.
Still it took a few years, experience, reading and research to approach trainings as a teacher and for myself solely from a point of view of focus and enjoying the ride.
And it’s truly becoming a joy, it feels child-like, to step back in wonder and listen to the intricate adjustments my body is able to execute within milliseconds, if I do not interfere.
For my fellow doers, Vikings and fighters I want to add, that this doesn’t mean a workout cannot or should not feel hard, challenging, exhausting or any of this, it just should not feel strained. If things get too easy, you have to up the challenge you set your body.
Your body does not want to pick up a newspaper as if it is a piano, but if it is a piano, it should be able to adjust accordingly.
To say it with the person that started the movement that has been my source of personal and professional discoveries over the last 15 years
“AS MUCH AS NECESSARY, AS LITTLE AS POSSIBLE.”
Joachim Schultz 2017