This day has been about true self-care. It began with a slow drive down old country roads, blowing brown hair with windows rolled down, blasting the heater to offset the chill of the outside air. I sang loudly, thought deeply about life, and admired the thick fog laden heavy over the wet streets – it looked like a dream this morning. Yoga went well over an hour, this a welcome progression from previous flows this week; it was not quite “clicking” prior days, but today I felt more myself. I love how it feels to truly push my body, and I even love the ease that naturally comes with practicing the same things repeatedly – I felt each movement, each asana today, and allowed my breathe and body to truly align. I thank God for this passion, for this practice – truly it has carried me and pushed me through some difficult seasons and this present time I find the work even more necessary; I am grateful that I was able to move today because my body really needed that release of energy.
Just a while ago, I finished meditating – well really, I’m not sure I can call it that. What I did was turn on instrumental music (thank you, Lights & Motion), perched myself comfortably on an oversized pillow, and made space and allowance for my emotions to move through me. I intentionally focused my breathing, and intentionally felt whatever was coming up as my mind observed the process. For me, it tends to be tightness in the chest accompanying negative thought patterns: I felt the tension, the heat, move all around my chest while I repeatedly reminded myself just to stay with it, and breathe, no matter how uncomfortable. I repeatedly reminded myself it is okay to feel fear, it is okay to feel anxious, it is okay to let it hurt, and it is okay to release it – whatever “it” is. For me, today, indeed it was fear – for the most part.
So much is presently uncertain. The questions this uncertainty poses are vast and collectively conceived (meaning most of us are “thinking the same thing”: What if I get sick/how do I protect myself, what will happen to the economy, when will life ‘go back to normal’ etc.). As the days went on I noticed I was getting sucked in to the daily Presidential updates, the commentary from political pundits and YouTube commentators, and even allowing the opinions/fears/concerns of my family and friends infiltrate my psyche, often elevating my own fears/concerns or causing new ones entirely. Eventually this consumption of daily negativity weighed me down too much, and it led me to today when I knew I needed to let it come full force. I chose when I awoke this morning that I would feel it, however it comes – whatever comes, and not suppress it or run from it but run towards it.
As I was meditating I felt so much energy in my body, from my tingling fingertips to pain in my back. The tightening chest as the flow rises stronger, the weight of darkness swirling in a powerful surge up through my throat and into my mouth almost as if it is trying to rush out of me but something stops it from ever fully leaving. The sensation has been so intense at times it curls me into a ball on the bathroom floor; thankfully, after Soltara I’ve gotten so much stronger and also feel more patience with myself when these surges come – I allow it to move through me, the energy, so much easier now.
What I’ve learned about fear is that the more you feed it the stronger it becomes, so sometimes you just need to intentionally lean into it – think of the worst thought, what troubles you greatest even if it is a far-fetched hypothetical and it feels silly to even say it aloud – say it anyway [I tell myself]. Say it and then feel it, where does it hurt – where is it uncomfortable? The cool thing about approaching anxiety this way is that it gives power to the message not the fear; my body is trying to tell me, hey, pay attention to this, and it often has something to teach me. For so long because it felt “bad” to lean into these sensations (anxiety “feels bad” for most people) I would try and shove the feelings aside, try and distract myself, or shut down entirely if it got too intense.
These days, I know to pay attention when I begin to feel it swelling, and to follow the sensations in my skin, in my muscles, in the cavernous spaces in my chest, in my breathing even – am I breathing deep or shallow, is it a reaction to a thought? Basically, you begin to get curious about the sensations – even the difficult ones – and learn to follow them as they move through you, like threads of information you pull on purpose. Often, I’ve found, merely the act itself – the observation of the sensations in my body as a practice – is moving me through my anxiety, whether I cognitively process my thoughts or not (meaning, whether I give credence to my thoughts as the “cause” of my anxiety or if it’s a process of just letting my thoughts roam free and not paying attention to it – each meditation kind of changes, and sometimes I experience it both ways, especially if a certain thought is “triggering”).
I am hopeful that I can continue to work through the ‘anxiety’ as the days progress. Most days going forward won’t be filled so full of “self-care” (today was a gift from my partner dearest because I asked for what I needed, at his loving insistence) so I know I’ll have to choose carefully how I use my time to ensure I’m still looking after myself when all the days’ duties are tended. I’ll figure out some kind of balance I am certain, because God knows we still aren’t even over the hump of the world crisis we find ourselves in now…
Life went and changed on a dime, didn’t it? What the actual fuck guys – seriously. Alas, we WILL get through this. For sure I don’t know how. For sure I can only speculate, and most of those speculations get more dire as the days march onward into the unknown. These are truly unprecedented times.
Just now a short swell of molten lava spewed from somewhere deep in my chest and I know it is exposing my fear oncemore. I guess writing those words, thinking that thought – here arrives more work to be done. Time to stop writing and follow the thread to understanding, let these sensations move through me, or if not understanding than at least acceptance; it doesn’t have to feel good to be good for me – running headlong into the storm again; an adventure awaits. These are just sensations.