By Dr Sue Jackson, Client & Friend of Core Pilates Brisbane
When Lisa asked me if I could write a blog for Core Pilates on mindfulness and movement, I immediately said yes. As an experienced psychologist, my business tagline is ‘mindfulness in motion’ and it’s a subject I am very passionate about. At Body and Mind Flow, I work with individuals and groups to help them tap into their potential to find flow in their performance; be that in sport, at work, or with life as it is happening in each present moment.
Mindfulness has become a revolution, concurrent with the exponentially high levels of stress and demand we face in our technologically-dependent world. The founder of Western mindfulness, Jon Kabat-Zinn explains there are many different doors into this room, and what is important is not standing in the doorway, but opening the door and entering the room.
Lisa Jackson, Principal Instructor of Core Pilates Brisbane provides all who enter the door to her studio a pathway to mindfulness.
I had the good fortune to meet Lisa soon after she moved to Brisbane, and I have been a student of her Pilates classes ever since. Lisa is an expert at providing cues that bring her students to a high level of awareness of what is happening in their body as they engage in Pilates practice. No matter where my mind is when I walk through the door, I can’t go five minutes without Lisa challenging me to bring my mind to what is happening in my body in the present moment. And should my attention wander for more than a minute or so, Lisa’s body-focused cues bring me back to the exercise I am doing.
Mindfulness teaches us to experience what is happening in the present moment. Everything about Lisa’s way of teaching Pilates heightens awareness of our experience in our body as we move. This allows the appropriate muscles to be either engaged or relaxed, depending on the exercise. Tick one for development of functional movement patterns. Another skill Lisa has is her ability to connect with her students, and provide individual cues that help us to connect with our body in movement. Tick two for fun.
The quality of our experience is a big determinant of whether or not we continue with a particular activity, so it is important to find movement activities that we enjoy doing for sustainability. Incorporating movement that you enjoy doing into each day is also a great pathway to mindfulness. For me, everything about Pilates is enjoyable, because it ticks so many boxes for heightening present-moment awareness. I also enjoy other physical activities; in particular, swimming and cycling. These and a myriad of other physical activities provide multi-sensorial experiences that direct our attention to what is happening as we move. The senses are, as Kabat-Zinn describes, a gateway to the present-moment.
Most likely, you will still find your mind wandering to past or future even while taking part in a personally enjoyable movement-based activity. This is what our minds do; they have a great capacity to be elsewhere, rather than the present moment. Mindfulness is as much a skill in bringing ourselves back to the present moment, as it is about being in the present moment. Because movement-based practices like Pilates involve awareness of our body, and the body is always in the present moment, exercising regularly offers one, very powerful doorway to mindfulness.
The ability to move our body is a gift; learning to move our body more effectively and with mindfulness, is the gift Pilates brings. That’s why I plan to be a student of Core Pilates for a long time.