Death to pillow forts

Almost exactly one year ago, I quit a very expensive somatic + bodywork training that I was taking from a well known guru. I ate the cost – just under 15K to be exact.

That training was a gut wrenchingly painful mistake, but when I signed up for it, I was feeling very lost in my business, my message, and my own movement practice, so I doubled down on what I was good at. Tiny, precious, esoteric movement and bodywork.

The whole experience was absolutely hideous, but something amazing came out of marinating in my cognitive dissonance for weeks on end. I got really clear on what I wanted for myself and where I wanted to be in my industry.

Everything about this training was rooted in fragility and caution. You couldn’t just do something. It all required a sea of pillows and assessments. Hyper analysis and reanalysis. Everything was dangerous. It all presented the potential for harm. Danger. Injury. Pain.

I looked around and realized that everyone who worked this way was weak and fragile. I realized that I was weak and fragile. I realized I had unwittingly trapped myself and my clients in a jail of pillow forts and I realized I didn’t actually believe the things I had been hearing…or saying.

So I broke out of jail. I started strength training. I didn’t have a specific goal in mind. It was more an act of rebellion and desire to prove this person (and my past self) wrong.

If I wanted to sum up my philosophy in a single sentence, it would be death to pillow forts.

If I had to add to the list of things I no longer give two shits about it would be this:

– I don’t care about being “correct” or esoteric, heady, biomechanical discussions. It’s like the academic version of my dick is bigger than your dick. Your dick…err…brain is bigger than mine. Whatever. You win. You’re smarter than me. I don’t care.

– I don’t care about methods. Give me something practical or go home. Don’t sell me on your revolutionary way of working or your elitist biomechanical jargon. I assure you someone has already done it before or has a smarter, more correct way of saying it.

– I don’t care about your pelvic floor…or your TVA…or your rotator cuff…or any other sacred muscle group. I care about CONTEXT. How do these ideas integrate for you as a human being who moves and experiences life?

– I don’t care about ideal alignment for the sake of “safety.” It’s an assessment tool that can potentially give us information about body usage and tendencies. If I’m considering safety it’s more about progression and preparedness to load. Does alignment matter? Sure, but not in any of the ways I originally believed and I certainly don’t believe it’s a great predictor of pain or injury.

– Finally, I don’t believe in catastrophizing, or fearing pain. Pain gives us information. It’s worth paying attention to, but it’s not some sort of life sentence worth panicking over.

In short, playing it safe and doubling down on studying the things I already knew enough about held me back. It was an excuse to avoid making mistakes. It was a way of tempering my fear of not knowing enough, being wrong, or looking inept. Keeping myself in a mindset of “not knowing enough” was a way to avoid having to show up and say something.

I’m over that now. Turns out, I’d rather fall flat on my face again and again than ever go back to being trapped in a room of reverent toe taps and making sure the cervical spine was perfectly neutral.

The world is big. The body is resilient. I refuse to hide in an ivory tower obsessing over the muscle timing of the lower trapezius out of a fear of being wrong or injury. Exploration and experimentation (even of the wildly *incorrect* variety) isn’t going to kill us.

There are 2 comments on this post

  1. Joe
    2 hours ago

    THANK YOU!!! This was all of the words in my head written perfectly. I have spent 10 long years digging through all of the shit. I wanted to find out what worked and what didn’t. What mattered and what didn’t. Now when I cue my work it’s “there are no rules, right or wrong way to play, and you can do anything you want” we literally PLAY. My clients love it and I helping people now than ever before. “Most people are sick because they forgot how to play” Nikola Tesla

    Cheers to you!! ⭐️


    1. Nikki Naab-Levy Author
      2 hours ago

      Hi Joe. You’re welcome 🙂 I’m so glad it resonated. It’s interesting (and heartening!) how many of us have arrived to this place. Even if it took 10 years of being lost in the woods, which very much describes my own experience too!

      xo Nikki


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