The phrase “East meets West” may not describe the heartbeat of the NOW. This phase reminds me of the 1960’s. Excitement, change, and crisis shifted perceptions with Martin Luther King, John and Robert Kennedy, and the war in Vietnam. The moon landings, love beads, meditation practices, health food, and earth shoes may seem as innocent diversions, but they represented a deep desire for a shift in consciousness. The radical ideas of change caused many of my generation to look for alternatives in all dimensions of our lives. We were not certain if the values of our parents and grandparents were relevant to the changing world. In many ways, we rejected the best of our respective family values and fled to other cultures that seemed exotic, mystical, and just plain different from home!
When I first was invited as a guest teacher in Asia, my friends in Boulder were curious and astounded! Why would people of the East seek to study Pilates? These ancient cultures were resplendent with spiritual disciplines and knowledge such as yoga, qigong, martial arts, and alternative medicines. A client of mine from Bombay explained it simply. She and her husband had no interest in yoga. That was considered a pastime of the older generation. It was respected, but not necessary. These two highly educated people moved to the West to learn and experience another world. They were not rejecting India. They were reaching out to the wholeness of the world.
East meeting West:
Last weekend, I hosted a teacher of Qigong at Pat Guyton Pilates, Inc. Daisy Lee is President of the educational non-profit, Kahuna Valley, on the Hawaiian island of Kaua’i. This was my first experience with Qigong. Having never experienced this work, I was fascinated at the emphasis on breathing and the power of vibration of the voice with movement. I cannot say that I know much about this practice except that I would like to experience more with Daisy. I was intrigued that Qigong and Pilates include the control and study of breathing as an intrinsic part of the movement.
West meeting East:
After Daisy left, I was privileged to teach a group of Japanese students with Yuuko Igarashi as a translator. These students truly express a reverence of the tradition of Pilates. They travel a long distance to study. I feel honored that in a small measure, I am able to share with each of them my understanding of this western tradition.
My conclusion is simple and important in the development of world peace. Each of us must work to develop a mutual respect for the diversity of all cultures, respect for our heritage, and a sharing heart. I would like to think that it is not East meets West or West meets East. Perhaps:
East and West are One.