*Post originally created on April 27th, 2020
“Intelligence guided by the will using memory and imagination assisted by intuition.”
Romana Kryzanowska (June 30, 1923 – August 30, 2013)
Will (Control) - used to express determination, insistence, persistence, or willfulness.
Willpower is like a muscle, but can our emotional state become strengthened along with our muscles through physical activity? Back in 2006 researchers at Macquarie University in Sydney wanted to find out the correlation between physical activity and self-regulation. These researchers gathered 24 non-exercisers between 18 and 50 to partake in a 2-month study. They were given free gym memberships and asked to exercise just 1x/week for the first month and 3x/week for the second month. Throughout the study they would test the participants on various self-control activities from resisting temptations to persevering through challenging tasks. The results were nothing short of remarkable. After just 2 months of exercise every participant had indeed increased his or her ability to resist temptations and persevere.
Without any instruction by the researchers, the participants also:
· Procrastinated less
· Felt more in control of their emotions
· Reduced smoking, alcohol and caffeine intake
· Saved more money
· Ate less junk food
· Began eating a healthier diet
· Watched less TV
· Spent more time studying
· Splurged on impulse purchases less
· Were more likely to be on time to appointments
All of these activities just occurred naturally from the habitual exercise!
Read more about this study here...
Joseph Pilates named his system Contrology.
On Return to Life Through Contrology, Joseph Pilates’ co-author John Miller presents the book with the following introduction:
“Mortal perfection is achievable only through bodily perfections and therefore the development of physique to high levels of strength and beauty, under control of the mind.”
Regular physical exercise is one of the best techniques you can use to build your willpower. Unfortunately, many people never get to see the full benefits of exercise because they set unrealistic workout schedules and aren’t able to remain consistent - consistency is far more important than frequency. READ that AGAIN ;)
As long as you remain consistent, you will build up your willpower muscle and become strong both physically and mentally!
“Our bodies are our gardens to which our wills are gardeners.”
How this is related to Pilates?
Right from your first lesson you are invited to bring awareness to your body, your breathing, your place in space, the way you stand and hold yourself. Contrology is not about the physical body only but also about the mind and how to become aware and let the mind take the lead. Some people will feel total discomfort, a little awkwardness even in the beginning, and that’s okay. Usually we are not invited to see ourselves for all that we are without distractions or stimulation overload.
From my perspective beginning your practice is no easy task. We live in an age of information overload, where being distracted is the norm while being ‘primed’ to spend our time, energy or money on something we may not need. As a society, we no longer understand the connection between mind and body; movement and mental health. There is a disconnect and a disembodiment that is happening on a global scale. When you are more embodied you are able to relate, communicate, and empathize with those and the world around you. You become more aware of what your body is doing and how it is directly affecting others.
The Method and Progression
The method is laid out in a way that progression and change are only possible through acceptance. Each one of us will progress at a different pace, like we have discussed in the first part of this 5 part blog series related to intelligence - we learn differently but we need to be ready and open to it. Its foundation (Contrology) is based on will and consistency. What I have experienced now in relation to our “new way” of teaching is the true manifestation of mental power! Most of my clients have already adapted to virtual sessions and surprisingly, have been able to not only keep their progress but also improve their movement patterns. That is real proof of becoming independent and self sufficient thorough willpower!
An uncompromising mental reservoir of strength. But can it be instilled in people?
We can definitely inspire, guide and show the way...but as instructors it is imperative to understand that we are facilitators. We know the work, we experience it every day, we believe in it, but it is up to the practitioner to build the bridge between their version of today and tomorrow. Body awareness, or will for that matter, cannot be bought. You can pay for your training, but having the will and progressing into the work depends 90% on us. Helping the client to understand their responsibility in their training will save you from feeling frustrated as a teacher. This mind-body based exercises are an opportunity to become more embodied, but it is not given.
The body is the seat – the stage – that makes the mind come alive. Endurance sports, particularly marathon running and pro cycling, are good examples of athletes using their emotional intelligence and willpower in order to increase motivation with the help of self-talk and imagery (we are going to discuss this in a future post…).
Okay, but we are not athletes...we just want some Pilates, please!
It doesn't matter where you are coming from, if you have started your practice later in life, or have been practicing for a while...Pilates helps us achieve an optimum mental state for execution and achievement, which pretty much amounts to being present and mindful of what is going on both inside and outside of ourselves. This could be one of the reasons why Pilates has grown exponentially around the world. If we ever needed a reminder of how powerful our mind body connection really is, and how the will to improve, overcome and survive plays a key role in our lives, this is exactly the time. As for myself, Pilates has become an integral part of my life. It has enabled me to explore the magnitude of my own body, and how that transcends in every single aspect of my life...from motherhood, to emotional health, to living a meaningful, more fulfilled life.
“I appeal in this booklet (Your Health) to those interested in the future welfare of our race. I appeal to them to aid in putting my practical physical education method before the public where it will do most benefit, and to have them see and test my health producing inventions to the end that mankind can enjoy God’s blessing - health and happiness.”
Your Health - Joseph H. Pilates
Think of all the ways you can move your body outside of exercise and physical activity; posture, gesture, talking, standing, sitting, blinking, breathing, etc. If you are stuck emotionally, I urge you to consider how moving your body can literally move your thoughts, feelings, and emotions.
Now we’d love to hear from you. What was your biggest willpower insight, and which strategy are you more likely to start using in your life today?
Until next time...
* Disclaimer: The information in this article is intended for educational purposes only. It does not constitute medical advice, nor is it a substitute for medical advice. You should consult a physician regarding medical diagnosis or treatment.