Balancing body and mind
Body and mind equilibrium. Easier said than done. What does balance mean and what were Joseph Pilates’ views on this subject?
I admit, from where I’m sitting with a view of the Pacific Ocean, it’s not difficult to experience a peaceful mind and a well rested, energized body. But how can we find balance in our daily lives which are jam packed with work, possibly kids, maintaining relationships and running around to do all-the-things-that-need-to-be-done while being distracted by all the technological demands placed on us? And how did Joseph Pilates envision balance of body and mind more than 80 years ago?
In 1934 Joseph Pilates published a booklet titled “Your Health” in which he expresses his concerns of the health authorities misguiding the public. According to mr. Pilates these authorities, only focus on the cure of disease rather than look for prevention of disease and optimizing health, sending out misinformation that could lead to early death, more hospitals, more lunatic asylums and more prisons.
Pilates describes balance of body and mind as follows: “It is the conscious control of all muscular movements of the body. (….) A full understanding of the principles of equilibrium and gravity as applied to the movements of the body in motion, at rest and in sleep.”
Balance does not mean you need to have a state of mind and a body that is stable and perfect. Balance means accepting that life can change from moment to moment. It means accepting life is a journey and you make adjustments according to what you need at that particular moment. It is not a static situation, but constantly changing. Go with your flow.
During your Pilates class you may get a better understanding of how your body functions and the precise execution of the exercises will hopefully leave you feeling energized and more in tune with your body. You may have found that proper execution of the exercises doesn’t allow a drifting mind: it demands all your attention. But the real Pilates actually starts after you leave the studio. It is not just a set of exercises, it is a method restoring balance in your body by being mindful which can help you with ALL your daily activities.
Joseph Pilates’ ideas on holistic living, not just his set of exercises originally known as Contrology, have stood the test of time despite the industrial and technological advances of our society and are even more applicable these days. “Telephones, automobiles, and economic pressure all combine to create physical letdown and mental stress so great that today practically no home is entirely free from sufferers of some form of nervous tension”.
Being the visionary that he was, he realized exercise should be complemented with proper diet (= fuel dependent on your occupation or sometimes lack of it) and sufficient sleep (in a well-ventilated room) in order to become a physically fit person. You may have seen photographs of him in his signature white underpants: his motivation for this outfit being to allow the pores as well as the nose, mouth and lungs to breathe. Exercising in fresh air and sunshine is preferred over “the handicap of daily breathing the soot-saturated air of our crowded and noisy cities”.
We may not always have an ocean view at our disposal, but Ginger would like to recommend finding that holiday moment in your everyday life: go out for a walk during your lunch break or contemplate the skies whilst enjoying your coffee and take a deep breath. And maybe, once in a while, consciously forget your phone…