"Are we there yet?" asked my son's friend who was riding back home with us from a field trip.
"No, does it look like we're home?" I replied. We were stuck in traffic. Admittedly, I was curt and rather annoyed and my response could have been much kinder. I was gentle in my reply the first five times. But this was the sixth time he asked the question and I have a limit to how much whining I can stand before my responses aren't so nice.
Patience. Flexibility. Mindfulness. These values are generally held in high regard, yet they often elude me when in comes to actually practicing them. How do we enjoy the present moment and not get caught up in our goal of getting somewhere? How do we refrain from becoming distracted with the daydream of reaching an end goal and enjoy where we are in the moment? Sometimes the gap between where we are and where we resolve we'd like to be seem so far apart that I too have heard myself cry "When are we gonna get there?"
While I continued to drive us home that day, the boy's mom (who was in the passenger seat) and I got to talking about how we manage our feelings of frustration and agitation. When we realize that we aren't mothering as we intended, how to we deal with the feelings of disappointment and the challenge of making a change for the better?
Exercise, for us both, is a major stress reliever and I think this is why: moving our bodies gets us out of our heads, so to speak, and in touch with what is happening now. It's also cathartic.
For me, Pilates and it's principles of breathing, concentration, centering, control, and precision can only be done when I'm attentive to my body and it's performance. The last Pilates principle of flow follows all the others. Once the other fundamentals are in place, the body is allowed to flow from one form into the next in a seamless weave of individual exercises to create a whole repertoire of invigorating movement.
Reminding ourselves to bring our attention to the moment, while understanding that there may be a lot of bumps and unexpected turns in reaching our destination, can make for an easier ride. Doing something that's enjoyable certainly maximizes our comfort. My son's friend wasn't having fun in the car and like most children fun is his motivation for almost everything he does.
For adults too, finding an enjoyable way to achieve our goals increases our chances of sticking to our resolutions. With so many fitness choices, Pilates, yoga, running, rowing; being indoors or out; whatever exercise we choose, if we make that decision with play in mind, we'll more likely succeed than if we think of it as work. I'm guessing someone out there has studied how our attitude towards tasks, whether perceived as work versus play, impact the outcome. If you know of any please send us the links!
In the meantime, bridging the gap between where we are and where we'd like to be seems more attainable when it's fun and I'm doing my best to remind myself that even when it's not, going with the flow, rather than resisting the temporary challenges makes for a better feeling in the moment. And, maybe next time I hear a child gripe about how unhappy he is, I'll use it as a reminder to be more patient! We'll see...