Pilates is a journey of action from our core. Meditation is a journey to stillness at our core. Both return us to life.
Pilates lovers enjoy feeling strong, resilient, and more centered. We often notice it right away after a session, sometimes while doing something else (“I was able to walk THAT far holding that heavier-than-expected potted plant I just bought!?!”). We know the benefits help us live better lives and some of us even aspire to be one of those fortunate to acquire and enjoy physical well-being, mental calm, and spiritual peace that Joseph Pilates referred to in his book, Return to Life.
While it wasn’t this excerpt that inspired me to commit to a meditation practice over 15 years ago, I began one around the same time I got certified to teach Pilates. I was at a point in my life where I needed to purge, cleanse and renew my life. I longed for mental calm and though I didn’t know it, I also needed spiritual peace.
The growing parallels between the two became more apparent over time. Mantra meditation is a purification process that allows us to transcend the busy activities of the mind and the stress responses of the body, using a tool, the mantra, to focus the mind. Pilates requires a focus of the mind to connect to the body and to internally cleanse our body of impurities and stress responses.
At Chopra, we consider meditation a powerful antidote to stress. It is said that we experience 60,000-80,000 thoughts per day, most of which are replays of the past or conditioned responses anticipating the future. Meditation allows us to move beyond these thoughts and to navigate our world with more presence, confidence, and adaptability, just like Pilates. Embodying these states of consciousness is particularly helpful during these pandemic times when we are tempted by feelings of insecurity, redundancy, and even complacency.
Both practices ground us in our core selves which help us shift perspectives and make better decisions. When we are deeply connected to who we truly are, unbound by limitations of stress, past conditioning, and unhealthy patterns of imbalance, we feel less fragmented and more confident, creative and open to alternate possibilities. We learn to navigate through stressors calmly and effectively with reflective and alert minds, having awakened our inner wisdom and strength.
Life is uncertain by nature, and both Pilates and meditation teach us about our own capacity as our purest selves. Regardless of how smooth, awkward, or challenging our regular practices are, in the end, we reap the benefits of feeling more centered in our daily lives because we saw them through. While one practice is about stillness and the other about action, through both, we return to a more vibrant life. We embody a more refined state of being, and in Mr. Pilates words, “capable of meeting the complex problems of the modern world.”
Want to try meditation? Here’s a guided one dedicated to your powerhouse