When I stop to consider my relationship with movement, what I feel most profoundly is how the quality of my movement has changed over the 60 years that I’ve been alive, and also the way in which I exercise. In this observation, what is beautiful to appreciate is how I can feel the quality of my movements has the potential to enrich, create spaciousness in my body, allow a delicateness in my fingertips, a delicious ease throughout my whole body, or the absolute opposite; a hardness in my movements, tightness in the muscles, a feeling of disconnection with my body, where I view it more as a machine that I want to work in peak performance, irrespective of how I take care of it.
When I was a little girl, I just remember the joy with which I ran around, exploring, having fun just being me. By age 8 or so I was becoming more aware of what other people thought of me, which was important to me. I didn’t want to disappoint and this started to have an effect on how I moved. I no longer delighted in just being who I was, as I realised that to really fit in, I needed to try and change things about myself. This prompted a gradual disconnection from my body, resulting in my movements becoming harsher, tighter and less fluid as I became more concerned about being like everyone else, rather than honouring who I knew I was.
As I grew older, I became very motivated to exercise, not because I appreciated my body and wanted to take care of it, but because I hated certain aspects of how I looked and I wanted to physically change my body shape. Some part of me held a belief that I would be more loveable if I looked more like the ‘ideal woman’, which was pretty skinny back in those days. I pushed myself to go for long runs, not really enjoying the journey, but feeling good when I’d finished and ironically believing that I now deserved a reward, which pretty much negated all that hard work in terms of any changes I may have otherwise made to my body! However, the real damage was this deepening feeling of unrest, that something was missing, that I wasn’t enough, that I needed to change something about myself to be ‘better’.
Fast forward to 15 years ago when I started attending Universal Medicine workshops, where I met people who felt ‘different’: there was a grace about their movements and the way they were with each other and with me. I could feel they were same, same, but different. The workshops supported me to realise that the difference I was feeling was that they were moving in connection with themselves. As a little girl, I’d chosen to disconnect from my body, my heart centre, the essence of who I am and instead, I went in search of something I believed would be better.
There is nothing ‘better’, nothing more exquisite than simply being and honouring who we truly are, allowing the flow of our movements to be impulsed from within, rather than being dictated to by sources outside ourselves telling us how we’re meant to be and what our next movement should be. In dis-connection from our bodies, there is a momentum moving us: we may feel nervous tension about everything we have to ‘do’, or anxiety around not being ‘enough’, or even a lethargy and strain in our movements if we’re resisting where we’re moving to, perhaps preferring to stay ‘comfortable’ on the couch.
Once we feel the gorgeous ease with which we can move our bodies when we chose to connect with our inner heart and be impulsed from the deep well of love that resides there, we set a new standard for ourselves on how we know we can move and the tangible feeling of spaciousness that then starts to open up in our body, as we claim who we are and discard any attachment to who we ‘thought’ we were supposed to be.
The way I exercise now comes from a deep love and appreciation for my body, I enjoy taking care of it, strengthening my bones by strengthening my muscles and in each movement being very present with myself so I know when to stop a certain movement if it feels too much. I don’t exercise because I feel I have to, but because I want to. I enjoy being with myself, feeling the flow in my movements and honouring when my body just wants to rest.
I feel so blessed to have had the realisation, albeit rather late in my life, that the quality of our movements has a very profound effect on us, and on everyone around us. We have the potential to deeply enrich the quality of how we’re living each day, and consequently the effect we’re having on everyone around us, simply through the way in which we move. This in turn offers a very powerful reflection for others to observe and perhaps be inspired to bring their awareness to their own movements.
To Exercise with Love
Three Miracles of Exercise
From Sport to Exercise: A Journey of Self-Acceptance
I have a friend who exercised hard and did a boot camp exercise as part of their fitness program. I stood and watched a class she was in a few years ago and the level of brutality on the bodies of the people partaking in this type of exercise was very hard to watch, so I went off to the steam room to relax. Now several years on my friends body has broken down and they cannot exercise in the same way anymore. When we are young we think we can do what we want to our bodies, however this is not the case at all because the body shows us all as we get older the damage we did to it when we were younger, it’s really not worth it but we don’t seem to want to listen to our bodies until its too late and the damage has been done. Now my friend suffers from a shoulder injury that is very painful that an operation plus physio hasn’t fixed, with hind sight she wishes she had been more caring of her self. What is is about us that we become fixated that there is something wrong with our body shape and that if we spend hours in the gym we can fix it? But as soon as we stop exercising the so called issue we have with our body returns, surely this suggests that going to the gym isn’t necessarily the answer?
A truly moving sharing AP – how mad is it that we live our lives on autopilot going through the motions (even when we stretch and work out) never truly exercising our God given gift to move with beauty, connection and grace. Its right there and available every moment we are alive, if we just stop the intense momentum of ‘rushing through’ what we think we have to do.
Reading this article exposes the ‘lack’ of care I have been in when I move my body with the intent to ‘just get the exercise done’. When I stop and be present with my body as I exercise I realise I often push through which is abusive to the body. The time has come to bring more awareness to all my movements and to begin by ‘oiling’ them all with more love. Thank you
I love what you bring in your contribution; the exercise consciousness and prevalent paradigm tells us that we need to push, work out harder and longer, reach goals etc. while the body is always there, communicating how it needs to be moved and when and especially, when enough is enough or too little is too little.