…but that’s not what ships are built for.”
I woke up to this quote posted by my mentor and friend Katy on the Aligned and Well Facebook page.
Timely, since I was just coming back from a barefoot walk-run and had spent the last minutes of my return home thinking about a new client from this morning. She had expressed how the new positions and ranges of motion we were exploring through some of the standing correctives in her workout felt very challenging and unnatural.
“I just don’t get it. It feels so different than what I am used to!”
I get it. But when was the last time you changed or reached a novel outcome by doing what you’ve always done? Wasn’t that the definition of insanity – doing what you’ve always done, yet expecting a different result.
Your relationship with your body is shaped by a variety of factors, but one of the forces that has a powerful pull is what you believe time with your body should look like. Your preconceived notion of what a corrective program or exercise should resemble has you prepared for an experience when you walk through my door. You’ve seen videos, attended classes, received personal instruction, sometimes from tens of specialists before you set foot on my floor.
You expect to “work”, “stand up straight”, “strengthen” and “stretch”. There is a comfort to knowing what we will do together and a certain degree of wanting to feel challenged but only within what you expect the challenge to feel like – whether it’s burning muscles, feeling pleasantly tired or learning a new exercise.
When I present you with a challenge outside the zone of what you thought “it” would feel or look like, it feels so novel and unnatural, that you may find yourself rebelling against the sensation, the movement, the position, or even my presence as a teacher. Irritation, discomfort, frustration, regret, doubt and even profound anger can be found living under the tissues exposed by new positions and movements.
As a teacher, I am always honored to meet those sensations and emotions of discomfort at your doorstep and support you as they come through and open new possibilities. When working with pain and dysfunction, we often find that our safe harbor is not safe at all, and we need to steer the ship out into open waters, even if they feel choppy at first.
In my own body, I am often a witness of novelty, experienced as weirdness and discomfort, as I venture to recover forgotten ways to move and be with myself. That only assures me that I am leaving the harbor, and isn’t that what we are made for?