Counting on my core…

Usually when I think of the word CORE, I’m focused on core values, those ideals that most clearly represent what matters most in life, the things that drive a lot of our behaviors, our choices and our big life decisions.  But lately, I’ve been attending a yoga class that focuses on core work and surprisingly, I’m finding that the muscle groups between my ribs and my knees (yep, the whole trunk of the body, lower back and the upper portion of both legs) is of significant importance to me, it is my CORE.

My core is becoming CORE in every sense of the word.

In those classes (they happen on Thursday mornings) I’m discovering that many muscle groups have to work together so that I can even begin to balance in the positions taught in the class.  I’m probably the oldest student in the room and the least-capable of achieving the pose and then being able to sustain it as we move through the pose.  Core work (I’m learning) is all about balance in motion.

Clearly, I need to be in this class because my body is wholly unfamiliar with the positions and movements we’re asked to do.  Throughout the class (and when I get home) my body is full of complaints about all that I’ve asked it to endure – and this is just a one-hour class!  Sad but true, my core is not as agile or as strong as I need it to be!

Like our core values, our core muscles hold us up – they keep us capable of moving forward, of climbing stairs, of shifting our weight and maintaining our balance when the ground beneath our feet is uncertain.  The older I get, the clearer it is to me that both my core values AND my core muscles are essential for sustaining me in the life I want to live.

I come away from my Thursday morning class humbled.  I’m not ashamed (after all, my body is giving me the best it has to offer, after years of neglect) but definitely able to acknowledge that I’ve got a long way to go before I’m likely to feel strong and capable lifting my locust, holding my boat or finding my plank.

What’s the remedy for a weak core? I think it is the same for those of us with values issues as it is for those of us with strength issues – getting familiar with your CORE (values and/or muscles) is important work for anyone eager to move through life feeling grounded, empowered and self-efficacious. I observe:

  • These are certainly words that would describe me when I’m speaking of my core values.
  • They are NOT YET words that can describe me as I consider the limitations of my core muscles!

To strengthen core values, we have to examine our lives, discover our inner motivations, and put language to the strongest beliefs we hold that see us through the hard moves of our life– the tough career decisions, the challenging interpersonal conflicts and the choices we make about managing our time and resources. It is our core values that enable us to move forward with confidence and clear direction.

To strengthen core muscles, we have to listen to what the body tells us when we ask it to move in challenging ways, to support weight in unfamiliar positions or to breath through an uncomfortable or unsustainable pose. We have to be ready to acknowledge current weaknesses and notice what effort it takes to strengthen those areas that are not as powerful as we want them to be or become.

Whether you’re struggling to align your life decisions with your core values or implore your body to function in a way that demonstrates core strength, the same principles apply:

  • Recognize the deficits – Am I unclear on my core values, and therefore unable to make decisions that align with them and support me on my life’s journey? Am I undeveloped in my core muscles, and therefore unlikely to move through life with strength and confidence as I age?
  • Examine the consequences – Without my “clear North” will I navigate the rest of my life with focus and intentionality, or will I lose my way? Without building core strength, will I wake up in my eighties with my spine hunched over and my legs unable to navigate the stairs?
  • Discover the work of restoration – We were all born with a sense of purpose (watch healthy babies, they are not confused about where they want to go, what they want to do, how they want to learn!) and reconnecting with that purpose is where we find our core values. Similarly, reconnecting with that youthful insistence on movement, direction and learning can enable us to find the motivation for strengthening our core muscles for the work ahead.
  • Do the work! No one can do it for you – no one can discover your core values or build your core strength but you (in this case, ME).  Each of us has to decide that the rewards for doing the work are worth the challenges, setbacks and disappointments of the change process – none of us moves in a smooth, linear path toward our goals!

I’m wishing you all the best as you engage in your CORE work – whether that is an emotional and philosophical journey or a physical and muscular journey.  And always know, I’m here to help!

Self-care is every conscious action you take that feeds your soul, nourishes your body, nurtures your spirit, or replenishes your relationship with yourself!

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About Paula

I help other caregivers – both professionals and family caregivers – acknowledge their pain and learn to practice the many small skills of self-care that can sustain them through the challenges of wholeheartedly caring for others.

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How Can I Help You?

Through Co-Create 4 Life, you will learn a range of well-being strategies from skillfully implementing self-care to holistic approaches to well-being, rebuilding resilience, and battling burnout. Book a free consultation call today to discuss your options.

How Can I Help You?

Through Co-Create 4 Life, you will learn a range of well-being strategies from skillfully implementing self-care to holistic approaches to well-being, rebuilding resilience, and battling burnout. Book a free consultation call today to discuss your options.