During ballet class a few days ago, my ballet mistress was giving us a complicated and challenging combination. I followed along closely, marking the movements in my imagination. I have learned that using my imagination is a powerful tool in helping me move through complex movement patterns.
One of my barre buddies sidled up to me, and began telling me the reasons why she couldn’t do the combination. My attention was divided. I didn’t want to be rude to my friend, but I certainly didn’t want to be disrespectful to my teacher. Most of all, I didn’t want to lose my concentration. I smiled at my friend and said, “The mind is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
I moved to another spot. I found myself surrounded by another group of dancers who were commenting on how difficult the choreography was, reciting their physical limitations, their injuries, their short comings, and why they weren’t going to be able to do the combination. I began to wonder why they even came to class.
These strong, beautiful women were defeating themselves before the music even began. Instead of focusing on what they could do, they were telling themselves what they couldn’t do. Hmmm, maybe it wasn’t the flesh that was weak; maybe it was the mind that wasn’t willing.
I wondered what my friends were teaching themselves. I also wondered what would happen if they trained their minds instead of their bodies. Instead of programming their minds for failure, what if they imagined themselves moving through space with ease and grace, power and strength? Just imagine what they could accomplish!
What we believe is what we become, and sometimes our belief system needs a tune up. Our brain is inherently flexible, and is always willing to explore new ways of thinking, feeling, sensing and moving. Be careful what you tell yourself, because your nervous system is always listening. And remember to use your imagination to help you move when the going gets tough. You may be surprised how much easier life’s challenges can become.
Cheryl Ilov, PT, GCFP