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A Time for Reflection

This is traditionally the time when we all make amends for having way too much fun eating and drinking over the holidays. This is a way of thinking that permeates our culture – that of making amends for excess: guilty pleasures followed by contrition.

“I’ll eat this now and pay for it later,” “I’ll do an extra half hour on the treadmill tomorrow,” “I’ll lose weight before the holidays to save some space for the gluttony I know will come.” This is understandable – we are fallible human beings prone to making mistakes. But this yo-yo of binge/fasting is not a good model. It’s like our way of exercising for an hour to make up for the previous 8 hours of being sedentary at our desk, and then following up that 1 hour of exercise with 4 more sitting watching tv/computer screens.

I’m not saying “no fun allowed” – or that doing a cleanse/healthy eating for a month is not a good thing – it might be a good thing! My point is just that we tend to balance our behaviour in a way that doesn’t necessarily lead to long term health.

I’m reminded of a dilemma I have in the studio. We are encouraged to use mirrors for our alignment practice – it’s important to be able to check that what you feel is what is real. Our understanding of what we look like or present like, and what we really present like, is often at odds. You are probably familiar with that feeling of being corrected in your alignment by someone (a teacher of some sort) and thinking “that feels totally wrong!” That is because even though you might be crooked or leaning, you have been doing so for so long that your muscles have adjusted and your proprioception has adjusted and now that position is deemed normal to your brain. It takes a process to re-adjust to another position at first, and constant checking of your position might be necessary at first. Hence the mirrors.

But someone always groans and bemoans the fact that she (yes, usually this is a “she”) doesn’t like to look in the mirror. This has been a familiar complaint throughout all my years of teaching movement. I am a woman – there are things about me that I wish were different and never will be different, and there is a self acceptance that seems to come with age, although I expect I will never stop trying to improve myself (and find fault when I fail to)! And so I understand that you would like to just work out and not have to look at yourself doing so. But since I started teaching Restorative Exercise™ I have found a peace with the mirror and this is why:

I am now looking at myself for objective reasons, instead of subjectively (critically). There is criticism to be sure, but it’s not judgmental. It’s just “how do my hips relate to my feet in this moment” -“Are my ribs down?” “Am I hyperextending my elbows,” “is my spine flexing or my hips?” But how did I make this leap – from using the mirror as a reflection of image to using it as a learning tool? Can it really be that simple as leaving the critical thoughts behind?

No, it’s not that simple. I believe that over time, I’ve trained my eye to behave differently. Just as meditation trains your mind to have the right environment for calmness and isn’t just a replacement for the self critical thoughts one is prone to, so have I trained my eye to perceive something other than just the subjective picture in the mirror. Every once in a while I catch sight of myself and think “uh oh! Too much egg nog!” and accompanying negative thoughts threaten to arise, but most of the time I’m looking for a particular reason. And I like this. I like that I can be objective about my expectations about my body.

My meditation practice “mirrors” this as well – the judgmental subjective thoughts are slowly but surely being replaced with objective ones. An example of a subjective thought might be “I’m a loser because I’m not as successful as _________.” An objective one is “I wonder what I need to do in order to increase my business and income by 20% this year?” It’s a state of mind that is clearer, more open, more kind.

So as we enter this period of reflection about 2015, and look forward to another year, I wish for you all to find peace within yourselves, without yourselves, and objectivity about your goals and perceptions.

And If I can assist you in meeting some of these goals, I will be happy to do so.

Happy New Year!


4 thoughts on “A Time for Reflection

  • I love this – learning to look at our bodies objectively, instead of subjectively. That is also what I try and practice in my own life when it comes to making decisions. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  • This was a very timely post and I’m really glad you took the time to share these thoughts. It’s definitely something I need to work on, being kinder to myself and finding peace with the mirror. It’s good advice to try to think more objectively.

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