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Tuesday, 24 February 2015

The Plank

I used to associate The Plank with Captain Hook and Peter Pan. Now that I’m doing Pilates, however, I have much more strenuous associations with it.

The thing about Pilates is the precision. The movements are often small, almost invisible, but if your ribs are raised or your shoulder is tense or whatever, you could be working the wrong muscles or putting pressure on the lower back which rather than being healing is actually hurting...

Small adjustments make a big difference, we are told. The teacher walks round the room, raising a ribcage here, lowering a shoulder there, straightening a leg or adjusting a knee. And while she wanders the room, the rest of us keep repeating the movement. Breathe wide. Flatten the belly button towards the spine and breathe out, using your core. 

I don’t know. I am certainly hoping that my core is strengthening and no further damage will ever be done to my spine or, for that matter, any of my skeleton! 

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, my mother used to say. I guess I’m a little late to heed that advice but hopefully not too late.

Precision is the key in many things besides Pilates. In navigation, for instance, if your projection is out by a tiny fraction you could end up away off course in a few hundred miles. It takes frequent checking that the course is correct to avoid such a catastrophe.

So it is in our lives, isn’t it? It is easy to accept slightly skewed advice and then end up doing something we would never have dreamt of doing. Eve accepted the serpent’s reasoning and bit into the forbidden fruit, without believing that the dramatic consequences of which she had been warned would in fact come to pass.

Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, at a time when his resistance must have been at a low ebb and he was vulnerable. (Eve had been living in a lush garden and hanging out with God. Quite a contrast, and yet she couldn't resist temptation...) Yet Jesus still recognised the temptation for what it was and because he was so well-prepared (he knew his Scriptures and he knew his God and Father), he resisted altering his focus and shifting his trajectory. 

He is both an example and, when he lives in us, the source of our strength to resist when we ourselves are tempted to slightly alter our thinking or actions. Being slightly skewiff in our understanding can send us on a wild trajectory which ends in tears. 

An ounce of prevention ... a pound of cure. I’m off to read my Bible, so God can make some slight (or major) adjustments to my thinking before I hurt myself.

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