by Joslyn Hitter
The Mat series brought me visible physical changes, and the continuity of my mindfulness practice created invisible emotional changes. The Mat and the mindfulness met in my center. I knew it would be a difficult retreat for me emotionally, and I was correct. I had an intuition that having the Mat series would be supportive, and I had no idea how much it would actually benefit me.
During that Fall retreat, alone in my room, devoting myself to the Mat series and reading Joseph Pilates’s Introduction to Contrology, listening carefully to his suggestions for how I should dress, what I should eat, how I should walk, how I should sleep and how I should breathe, I began to feel very close to him. Joseph Pilates became one of my retreat teachers. Some days, I would come to the meditation hall and look for him on the stage. I would be surprised that he wasn’t there. I could picture him sitting upfront in his speedo demonstrating breathing exercises.
When I came home from the Fall retreat I was converted. I believed wholeheartedly in the power of Contrology. I have done the Mat series every day this year either on retreat or at home. The series now takes me 25 minutes. My body, mind and heart crave my home/retreat version of the Mat series because it is a mindfulness of the body practice, inside and out. Most days I practice in the dark, either rolling out my mat before dawn or after dusk, or at both times in one day. I face a wall and use a simple thin mat so I can feel the earth underneath me. I use no props (no handles, bars or straps). Every breath is synchronized to a movement, and there is not a breath or a movement that is wasted. I am completely mindful of each breath as it carries each movement because there is nothing else to know.
My teachers and class friends at Westwood Pilates have commented on how much stronger I am; that was nice to hear, and it was only half of what happened to me. I feel like any physical strength I gained was simply an outward manifestation of the emotional strength Pilates gave me. I now have guts: physical and emotional guts. My core is strong: internally and externally. I know without a doubt that I can sit cross-legged on the floor and devote myself to my meditation practice until one of two things happen: either I die or I achieve full awakening. There is only silence, internally and externally. Just breath and movement, both physical sensations, both centered and controlled, and neither has anything to do with me. I am gone.
Joslyn Hitter has been studying Insight Meditation since 2008. Her approach to Insight Meditation is greatly informed by her multiple advanced degrees in counseling psychology, depth psychology and somatic studies.
She is a Mindfulness Facilitator certified by the Mindful Awareness Research Center at the UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. In addition, Joslyn is certified to lead groups specializing in Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) as well as Mindfulness-based Relapse Prevention (MBRP).
In addition to her one on one, group, corporate, and drop-in meditations, Joslyn teaches at InsightLA and Cancer Support Community Center in Los Angeles. She also teaches with iACT in refugee camps in eastern Chad.
A life long dog lover, Joslyn lives in West LA with her rescue dog Cleopatra.