Therapy and pilates have some things in common.
For the past year I have mostly been going to spin classes as my primary form of exercise. I have loved this for the past while for many reasons. Firstly, I have had a lot of anxiety ‘spinning’ through me and doing this exercise has been a way to move some of the energy out of me. Second, the classes are in the dark (with disco lights!) and I get to decide what gear I use. This means I have no clue what gear other people are on or how many kms they log, so I can just focus on my own “journey” and not get preoccupied with anyone else’s (that in itself has been metaphorical inspiration which has helped me in other areas of my life).
However, this past month as I have been regularly spinning, my back has started to hurt. So, I just began to take a few pilates courses to help strengthen my back and core. What I have noticed is that when I go to pilates classes, muscles that are engaged in the class begin to fire all day long - they are activated and awakened in the class and then they let me know they are around and available throughout the rest of the day or week. I especially noticed this when I went back to a spin class - I was surprised by how much I engaged more of my core strength when I was spinning after I went to pilates, and this actually helped improve my distance, even after taking a break from spin for a number of weeks.
So why am I writing about spin and pilates on a counselling blog site? Well, I think therapy (as well as forms of prayer and meditation) act in a similar way as a pilates course…they let us know where the core of our strength is - they help us tap into the deeper and often more subtle aspects of who we are - and this then helps us in other facets of our lives with momentum, endurance, direction, strength, stability, and balance. So, rather than our lives needing to constantly rely on the “big muscles” of our legs, we can draw more from a hidden strength deeper within ourselves.
Increasingly, counseling is being understood not just as something that people with “issues” go to, but moreso, it’s a practice to help ground us in the core of who we are in this world, to help get us in touch with ourselves. This often means working through layers of our own narratives, emotions, memories, past trauma, stress, grief, spiritual beliefs and other complexities of life to discover it. Make no mistake, it is not always comfortable or easy - it’s like exercise! It can sometimes be hard and take intention. It can also be fun. :)
But, obviously, I think it’s worth it. Not only because it’s an incredible privilege to sit with people and witness their own core strength begin to fire. But also because I am also on my own journey of discovering it myself - albeit clumsily. I do believe that when one discovers the core of their own strength, there is a new and more stable momentum that can help guide them forward. And that strength from within is incredibly powerful, endurable, and trustworthy.