This is the final day of my short project, “Writing on the mat”. Each day, I’ve been writing for 10 minutes either side of my Pilates practice at home. These are my notes and observations -you can find out more about the project here.
Day 7, Before Pilates
I started today feeling weary and reluctant to begin, and I began to question whether I ought to proceed when I feel this way. Is it better to give in to the temptation to nap, or to ‘power through’?
Do I tell my body what it needs, or does it tell me? I suppose the key is to open the paths of communication. I need to be in touch with my body in order to know what it needs.
It’s interesting, reading back, to note the total disconnect between “me” and “my body” – I seem to conceive of them as two separate entities that can enter into discourse, rather than one and the same. We are conditioned to think this way – to see our body as a tool, a vehicle for our ‘self’, which we are often at odds with. Perhaps this is part of the problem when it comes to knowing how far it can be pushed.
I began thinking about when, or why, I might override what my body is telling me:
Being slimmer, more toned – these are goals that I impose on my body – not the other way around. This is probably the most common reason for pushing the body in a way that is not conducive with wellbeing.
We all get cravings – they may be associated with an addiction (to sugar, for example!) in which case the body’s sense of what it needs has been warped in some way. We might be right to override these strong desires. Sometimes, though, the body craves what it lacks – since I have become vegan, I often get cravings for marmite, which provides the vitamin B that my diet otherwise lacks.
These are two separate things, I think. If the body is tired, it needs to rest, but often it is the mind that is tired, and if we really listen to our bodies, they want to move.
The more I have learned to listen to my body, the more I have found that it makes healthy choices. So often we ‘treat’ ourselves to fat, sugar, tv, lie-ins, but these ‘treats’ are imposed by our social, cultural and emotional view of what we want.
We drown out the sound of what our bodies our trying to say, forcing them to “shout” or “cry for help” through pain, injury and illness..
Even if our bodies are just vehicles, we should surely treat them with care. You wouldn’t “treat” your car to a few years on the driveway, then expect it to run right. Pilates is about changing the oil regularly and learning to listen for engine splutters.
My final entry for the project speaks for itself:
Today felt sooooo good! I feel more energised, more positive and generally more alive than I did before the session. So, on day 7, have I finally found the right balance? Choosing the movements that feel good – stretching and treating my body nicely? Well, for at-home Pilates for well-being, yes. Perhaps in class I will be pushed more, and I could push myself more every so often. But honestly, feeling good after a session does so much more for my wellbeing than feeling frustrated or exhausted. I am more likely to eat well, concentrate well, and make good choices – unlike when I just feel like flopping on the sofa.
I’m not saying I should be lazy, but that I should be attentive, and push only a little at a time. As for the writing, has it helped? Well, it certainly would have been difficult to make all these observations in my head. Writing, too, has helped me to pay attention. It has helped me to think things through at the speed I can write, rather than racing through a thousand thoughts a second.
Thank you for reading along with me on my “Writing on the mat” journey. I’ll will be collating my notes into some more concise conclusions soon. In the meantime, pay attention to yourself and be kind. You deserve it.