A Meditation of Movement
Updated: Apr 9, 2019
So I woke up early this morning (6:00a.m.) and figured since I was up and my husband was heading out for an early yoga class I would follow suit and head off to a Barre3 class https://barre3.com/studio-locations/allentown. And I am so glad I did. I have been going to Barre3 for over a year but today was different. I felt as if I was in a mindful movement class, that is, a presence of mind, body, and heart - just kicked up a notch.
I realized pretty quickly when I began going to Barre3 classes I need to keep my mind and my awareness of my body present in class so I can follow the instructor and not injure myself - it is a sort of survival technique. But this morning, I found my heart was there too. The Chinese character for Mindfulness is nian. It is the combination of two separate characters each with its own meaning. The top part of the character means "now" and the bottom means "heart" and "mind." https://mindfulbalance.org/2011/05/13/being-mindful-today/ The combined character means the act of experiencing the present moment with your heart and mind; and, that is what I felt this morning and that was new for me.
I am not sure if it was because of the thought and heart provoking discussions I had with some friends last evening about acceptance, worthiness, and acknowledgement of our flaws; or, if it was just the way the instructor lead us this morning - probably a combination of both. But my experience was noticeably different. My mind, heart and body were in the same place almost all of class.
Mindfulness practitioner and psychologist Tara Brach recounts the first time her mind, heart and body were in the same place at the same time was in a yoga class her freshman year of college. It was an "aha" moment for her a new experience. As one of those "busy mind" people myself, unless I am intentional, I find my mind, heart and body in different places.
The intentionality of meditation helps me keep mind, heart, and body in the same place. As my attention is drawn away by a thought, sensation, or random feeling not pertaining to that moment with a little effort (e.g. asking myself where are my hands and feet) I am back in my body and the now. The goal of mindfulness is to be more fully present, in mind, body, and heart. Obviously for us mere humans this is not possible 24/7; however, when they do align there is a noticeable synergy. For me it is even intensified if I am are experiencing it at the same time in the same space with others.
Sometimes my heart and body are aligned for instance when I play with my adorable rescue Pitbull Winston. My heart seems to always to be present with him - he just evokes this warm fuzzy feeling in my chest so it is both my heart and body present at the same time. If not intentional, my mind may wonder off to that "to do list" I carry around in my head. Unattended my mind is like a hamster on a wheel going round and round often getting no where. Mindfulness helps me be more present and makes play time whether with Winston, my husband or a friend more enjoyable. It is amazing how easily we can go into autopilot. You know what I am talking about, you realize you are only one street away from your home and you aren't quite sure how you got there. Or you reach for the last bit of cheesecake to only discover you finished it and missed it. It would be unfortunate to do that with the rest of our lives - miss it I mean.
So anyway back to Barre3 this morning. I was more aware and grateful for the mindful language I was hearing this morning in class. Don't get me wrong Barre3 instructors are very mindful in their instruction and language but for me this morning was different. With such ease, the instructor invited us to be aware of our breath as we began class and then at the end of class.
Such a simple task for most of us breathing in and out; but, she was asking us to do more - she invited us to leave the outside world outside for the next hour. Near the end of a series of burpees (yes mindful burpees not an easy task) she spoke in terms of impermanence as she encouraged us that nothing last forever and that even though it was hard we have done hard before. It was a simple task but not easy. She reframed the shakes we were feeling in our bodies as we held out planks as "evidence that our bodies are working and changing." Changing my perception of my body's movement from a weakness into a strength - the shakes were indeed evidence of my body building muscle.
In know for me, a shift in perception is extremely helpful in making it through life's challenges both big and small. But, I find I need a bit of space to make that shift. Victor Frankl said the space between the stimuli and the response is choice. I like to say "there is grace in the space" grace for both ourselves and for others. But it takes practice. For me that space can be a deep breath, a short walk, or even some time weeding my garden.
At the end of class, she encouraged us to congratulate ourselves for making the time for ourselves; and, she then invited us to set our intention for the day. For me it is the best time to set an intention - my mind and body and still.
Then the best part of class arrives - Shavasana. For those who are not familiar with the term it is the corpse pose (the literal translation from Sanskrit) usually done at the end of a yoga class to promote relaxation and calm mind. For me it is the reward for doing the hard work in class and it is so peaceful to just be still in those last few moments.
So into the garden to pull some weed and spread some mulch. I just wanted to get this written before beginning the rest of my day. My heart feels full, my body strong, and my mind clear. Not a bad way to start a day.
So thank you Lisa for providing a mediation of movement this morning.