Joseph Pilates observed the easy movement and posture of children, remarking that this freedom was something we lost as adults. Watching my young daughter roll a stone in and out of a hole in the pavement, again and again (and again) and with complete absorption, I think we can also lose their ability to focus on the present moment.
There is a self-test of trying to empty your mind of thoughts for one minute – but which is usually seconds in my case. Have a go if you’ve never tried it – how long can you last? Do thoughts and outside pressures crowd in easily? There are estimates that we each have at least 12,000 thoughts everyday (some people up to 60,000) and apparently of these thoughts around 98% are the same as the previous day. Maybe it’s time to cross off some things from that ever revolving “To do”list!
How often do you exercise without being mindful of your movement? Perhaps having sat all day, before fitting in an hour of high impact exercise – moving your body but with your mind engaged on outside thoughts and plans, until perhaps you have an injury? Then you can think of nothing but how to move.
That is what is so important about the Pilates principle of focus. If you’re concentrating on your breathing pattern, moving in a certain way, engaging muscle ‘X’ whilst releasing ‘Y,’ there is no room for outside thoughts to creep in. It is possible to sustain this level of concentration for an entire class – an hour of complete you time. Often clients comment on how quickly a Pilates class has gone, or how relaxed they feel at the end, partly because they have been in the here and now without distraction.
Being in the present moment is important, as wise men say; the present moment is all we have. So learn from the very young and focus on the moment at hand.