I started taking Pilates classes at the beginning of this year. Some friends sang the praises of it, and our trainer told me that it would probably be really good for me, because I have problems with hypermobility. The owner of the studio is my instructor and she can be pretty quirky sometimes, halfway muttering to herself facts about different muscles and then tells a story about the importance of the mind-body connection, and then she may go mute, except to tell you the next position. You never really know what you’re going to get. But in most every class, she says something over and over: Feel what you feel.
The first time I heard this, I thought of Yogi Berra, the baseball player who is known for stating the obvious. But then I let that thought pass, and listened some more. What the instructor means is to pay attention to what your body is telling you, note where you are tight or sore with no real judgment. She often follows this up with, “there’s no right or wrong”, explaining how people are so different, with past injuries and experiences and current ailments. I appreciate the idea that we are not in competition with each other, we are all there for our own improvement.
This notion has seeped into my conversations many times lately, when I am encouraging a friend who is struggling or when talking to any one of our adult children. I often find myself whispering it in the ear of someone I care about as we hug to say good-bye. Feel what you feel. It’s permission to acknowledge the emotion without censure or justification. We can be so quick to ‘clean up’ our feelings, to make sure they aren’t too far out of the realm of normal for human consumption, but sometimes it is better to just let it come, and not worry about it being right or wrong.
Just a simple statement that can mean so much.
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