What’s a mind-body experience when it’s not a mind-body experience?

 In Mind-body Connection, Personal Expansion, Professional Development

During a recent workshop at The Breathing Project, a fellow colleague told a story which caught me off-guard about a yoga teacher workshop he had led. He recalled how some of the instructors revealed that this was the first time they’d paid attention to what their bodies were doing.

REALLY?! (Enter screeching halt sound.)  That’s like a marathon runner saying she’s just had her first runner’s high. After all, these are yoga instructors, I thought. Aren’t we mind-body practitioners supposed to be the experts in body sensations and awareness?

I was simultaneously baffled and intrigued. Disclaimer – I tend to be hyper-aware and come from the uber-conscious Kane School approach where we get off on sensing millimeter changes of tension in our psoas muscles.  But stepping back a moment, I decided to reflect and not judge.  If an instructor isn’t focusing on sensations, then the non-instructor may also be focusing on something else. And if so, what would that be? In other words, if people are not focusing on the experience, then what are they experiencing? And what are they getting out of it? And if not to experience movement and their bodies, what is the motivating factor for being there?

Maybe the chance to escape from daily life and pressing matters is the motivator. The beauty of mind-body exercise forms is that if you remain present and perhaps focus on your breath, body and movement, you can’t think about the number of tomatoes you need to buy for dinner or how you’ll deal with your annoying boss tomorrow.  You’re completely focused on the present moment. Even if you’re just concentrating on the exercises at hand, you’re removed from your typical racing thoughts.

Or maybe the chance for peace and solitude is the motivator. No one is harassing you for a report or demanding an email response or asking you for help with homework. This session or class is a moment to pause, one in which you’re reminded to breathe. How easy was that to forget beforehand?!

Yet another motivator may be the opportunity to surrender.  Perhaps you’re always expected to be in control and have the answers at work and at home, so the chance to be led can be highly compelling. The chance to be instructed may in itself be a relief. Maybe you’re tired of being the one in charge and having to lead. So this is a chance to follow and let go.

Another motivator could be the occasion NOT to sense or feel anything. If you’re on sensory overload, maybe you just want to zone out and move for the sake of movement without analyzing the experience.

What initially began for me as a head-turning tale has converted into an eye-opening meditation on how the mind-body experience can offer various meanings to everyone.

Have you found that mind-body experiences can offer experiences other than what you expected?  If so, what?

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Showing 6 comments
  • Barbara

    A friend/colleague of mine once told me that for some students the simple act of showing up to class is all that student may be able to do and to be grateful for that simple effort if for nothing else. That student might have to focus on ‘feeling’ and encountering the ‘mind/body’ experience in his next lifetime… 😉

  • Gini Martinez

    I love how you reframe this realization to support where the student is at, Rebecca. Embracing different perspectives is a great quality for a teacher to possess. (No surprise, here. ;-))

    I like walking barefoot to actually feel the earth under the soles of my feet which makes me more awake to the sensations of my feet which connects me more deeply to using my feet well to the benefit of my whole body. It makes me feel more grounded.

  • Gini Martinez

    I will write Rebekah 25 times on the chalkboard. ;-*
    Rebekah Rebekah Rebekah Rebekah….

  • Bobbye Niemie

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  • Magnetic Therapy

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  • Kyle

    Great piece Rebekah. It’s so useful to reflect on how our students’ intentions and needs can be so different than our own.

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