My son is now 5 years old, and he achieves amazing feats of strength every day. He’s incredibly proud of himself when he swings on the monkey bars and pulls himself up with one hand. He has some incredible physical skills for his age, and we are also very proud of him. Raising a child has opened my eyes up to what it is to learn to live a full and happy life. And the fact is, you need more than physical strength to do just that. That’s why my husband came up with a phrase for my son that I also repeat to myself, quite often. He said to my son: “You need to be strong in mind, strong in heart, AND strong in muscle.” This caught my attention because Joseph Pilates himself believed that the mind was an essential piece of the puzzle for physical fitness. He called his exercise system “Contrology” and believed that a strong mind could control your muscles, and help you move in a safer, stronger and more functional manner. I’ve begun a meditation practice in the last year and I am absolutely in awe of how much it has positively changed my relationship with both my body and my emotions. It has also impacted my relationship with my family too. My mind is sharper and my heart is definitely feeling stronger. All three of these things- heart, mind, and body- are more balanced and working together. I am fortunate to have had a wonderful head start on my mind and body with all my years of Pilates practice behind me. My heart, however, was lagging a little behind the rest. This became clear to me the other day, and I’d like to share why.
A few weeks ago I found some old photos on my computer from when I first began my pilates teaching career, back in 2012 (see slideshow above). At the time, I hated them all and didn’t share very many. This time, when I looked at them, I couldn’t believe that my younger self was so critical. I wrote a blog post awhile ago about how I don’t look like a Pilates teacher, which was very cathartic and helped me set aside a lot of my old fears. But these photos showed me something new- that my feelings from that time were waaay off! In fact, now I’ve had a baby and my body is even further from this notion of “the pilates teacher’s body”. And I don’t even care! I’m the one living in here, and I can tell you it works pretty damn well and is strong and functional. I take care of it as best I can and I don’t see why I should be so worried about the judgements of others. It’s my body, and no one else’s business.
All I could think when I was looking at these photos was that even if I was stronger physically back then, I sure wasn’t very strong in heart. I’m stronger in both my heart and my mind now. And why isn’t that just as important? Isn’t that what I am striving to teach my son?
So if you find yourself judging old photos of yourself, take a pause and breathe. Set them aside if you need to but please, take some time to develop the strength in your heart to look at them again with different eyes. You won’t be sorry.
With love and compassion,