Our weekly semi-private session had been on hiatus over the summer, which means it had been a while since last I took care of myself. So when the instructor asked how we felt my first thought was, "older". While the 30s are infinitely more fun than I've ever had, physically I feel less and less forgiveness - a solidifying of sorts, or maybe more of a congealing. It's worrisome.
In class we work on the Reformer. It's a relatively simple machine - an elegant combination of warm wood, aluminum, cords and padding. We spend the bulk of the time laying on our backs on a horizontal carriage that glides seamlessly back and forth - ...or clunks if my attention strays. Staying in alignment and isolating particular parts requires close and detailed concentration. It feels like trying to hone in on a moving target.
I'm told that paying attention is the key. That is particularly true on the Reformer. To fire up my attention muscles, we started by creating friction between the palms, trying to hear only that sound. The weather had changed in the preceding days, getting cooler and dryer, so the palms moving against each other created a papery sound. We tried to distinguish the sound of the fingers from the sound of the palms. As the soundtrack playing in the background, verbal instructions from other classrooms, the sound of bare heels padding around the studio, and traffic noise coming from outside, I was immediately lost in the effort of narrowing my sense of hearing - the mother of all isolation practices.
The theme of attention to detail framed the class, as it frames every class; working intensely to focus on the minutia of how we are put together, how we move, how we can move, how we carry ourselves, how we can be attentive to moving and expanding in ways and places that have become stiff. How can we shake ourselves out of habitual patterns... out of congealed states. Hopefully, in a few more sessions when we're asked how it is we are feeling, my first thought will be, "younger".