: Relaxing in the Doing
When I am at home in Ojai I have weekly private Pilates exercise sessions and, when I am on the road, I do the stretches. For a long time I have appreciated the power of Pilates in strengthening the body without efforting. Until today I had not
experienced true relaxation from exercising. I always thought you had to be pumped up. Today at the end of our session I said out loud...I can't believe I am so relaxed after a work out. I was not tired. My whole body was calm and at peace and my limbs felt like they were floating. My teacher was beaming and said...now you know what I have been talking about all this time. Stretching is about effortlessness not about pushing. When the exercises are done correctly from the "core" the limbs move effortlessly and the body relaxes. What that means is you have control but it is a natural extension of the focus on the core and breathing.
My teacher has reinforced over and over that moving our bodies can be effortless if we stop holding on so tight. I can now differentiate muscles and have learned to let go of my hips when stretching so the stretching comes out of the core - the abdomen - with no stress on the hips (good for later in life).
Another piece of doing Pilates exercise is resting between sequences and stopping if it becomes work.
Today when we were done and I was getting up from the "Cadillac" (Pilates equipment) I was so relaxed I could have fallen asleep right there. Believe me, that was a first for me. While driving home I realized the relaxation I experienced is exactly what my work is about. My intention for the people I work with is to be able to relax in their work.
Doing (when done "correctly") is in fact effortless and relaxing. I have had years of practice undoing my own efforting and trying-too-hard patterns. As I breathe and slow down to my own focus I complete what's before me with ease. When I am trying to orchestrate a specific outcome, I find I am exhausted. When I keep all my commitments in writing and observe what is happening as I work (versus forming all my opinions, analyses, judgments etc.) I can listen for the next action and my and day becomes effortless.
Doing one thing at a time through to completion is the best analogy I have to using the core muscles in Pilates. We give ourselves the respect of doing only one thing at a time and the reward is greater ease.
Isolating the one action needed in the now brings our attention fully present and we can complete what is in front of us with grace. Exercising our completing muscle wisely brings in the joy and energy that comes with completing.
Yesterday I had the ultimate efforting day - working with AT& T Wireless and Nokia trying to get my new phone to work. I could feel myself demanding the result I wanted that didn't seem to be available. I remember apologizing to the technician and he laughed and said I wasn't abusing him so he was fine working with me. I then laughed.
Today the opposite is happening as I have become fully present. I have no expectation or demand of any result. I am simply cooperating with what is next and I am seeing the humor in what is taking place.
Relaxing in the joy of being is a great way to work and exercise.
1. See how effortlessly you can do today.
2. Be open to doing just one thing at time, which means not even thinking about anything else.
3. Rest between each action by taking a breath, acknowledging yourself or taking a stretch.