It is the last day of March and what a month it’s been. Strange days with an unfolding pandemic around the globe. As I sit here in New Hampshire, overlooking this peaceful and quiet lake, I have felt far removed from the action while also strongly pulled into its vortex.
My outer life has not changed much, I continue to meditate, exercise, read, write, cook, and eat. The life Jim and I have created is mostly out of reach of these types of fluctuations. It feels instead like I am impacted second-hand, through friends and family who are experiencing this.
Currently, we have minimal expenses so we are minimally impacted. Without any bills to pay, what’s left is freedom for creative projects and self-work. I wake up on my own schedule and meditate, read and write, cook and eat amazing, healthy food and am able to make exercise a priority.
The first half of the month was productive. I was laying bricks, upbeat with possibility and living out potential, keeping track of daily life and on track for future creation. I was planning a reunion, applying for creative grants, and putting together a proposal for a film documentary. I was communicating with family and friends and having breakthroughs. My sister had a daughter and I became a new Auntie! (Happy Birthday Zoë ♥)
Jim and I were in sync and in flow with one another, bouncing ideas back and forth and collaborating in a new way. It was rich and vibrant energy. There was a palpable excitement, enthusiasm, and aliveness that filled this cabin, a flow-state achieved through balance of diet, exercise, rest, purpose, and community.
And then, just like that, my inner life changed like the weather. Clouds rolled in as a telling line furrowed over my brow, bringing a darkness that shaded my view. I didn’t see beyond the ominous sky of perspective, which took on a sallow hue.
I felt sick, sickened, and ugly. Life transformed like the idyllic lake outside my window into a dark and incredible gloominess, its waters lurched with a lurking trepidation of some deep and unknown crime. The rain brought with it fear and melancholy. I began sailing on the stormy and troubled seas of my emotions.
Something happened that became the crux of my upset. It was insignificant and at the time, it was everything. I turned on Jim and everything around me. I shut myself in the bedroom and refused to be okay, screaming and sobbing, hysterical. The weather took a turn for the worst and at the height of my misery, there was a thunderous, lightning storm that hovered over the cabin one night.
At my worst, I scrolled the internet endlessly, surfing Wikipedia and watching movies. I railed against the darkest part of me, that melancholic alcoholic nursing her whiskey neat at the end of the bar. My eyes hardened into flint.
Jim and I made up and then fought again. On repeat for the next five days. Then, there was a break. I woke up to my responsibility in creating my world and that morning, I meditated silently for 2 hours and did my yoga practice. I followed it up with guided meditation for lucid dreaming practice. I practiced relaxing my body. I called my teacher from my mindfulness course that ended earlier this month.
That day, I avoided seeing or speaking to Jim, serenely nodding to myself for my decision to give space. But at the other end of this thought, was the other partial truth that I was creating space out of spite. What I hoped my distance conveyed was, “I don’t need you. I’m not sorry. You’re wrong.” Not surprisingly, it didn’t bring me closeness and instead, ever more fervent and feverish fighting. I expected and demanded him to reach out to me and was horrendously offended that he did not. I curled even more deeply into myself. I was fully encased in the Loop. You know which loop I’m talking about.
In times like this, I feel helpless and hopeless. How many times can I call friends, family, and other support for the same issue? It is such a repetitive and tiresome pattern that its retelling feels pointless. It all starts, crescendos, and ends the same way.
All my work is about healing this bullshit. So what gives? All the therapy, meditation, yoga, running, exercise, healthy diet, self-help books, other books, personal development classes – what will help me? And as I feel my most desperate, I am learning something new.
When everything appeared futile, what’s arrived is the practice of Relaxation. A few weeks ago, Jim introduced me to YouTuber Mike Chang’s Daily Flow Training, a series of movement practices, including Qi Gong, stretches, breathwork, and meditation.
During his training, Mike takes us through the reasons for his practice, among them is teaching the body how to relax and be loosey-goosey. This is making the difference for me. I’m teaching myself how to relax, familiarizing myself with this feeling of calm and centered-ness. So when my sympathetic nervous system fires up erroneously alerting me of perceived but imagined dangers, I can bring my parasympathetic system into the game, calming the body and bringing it back into a resting state.
It is funny that at 30 years old, I am learning how to relax.
A recent memory of total, immersed relaxation was back in December at a housesit in Roslindale, MA that came equipped with a hot tub overlooking the Boston skyline. Jim and I were enjoying some peaceful days and one night, we smoked a joint out in the hot tub with snow heaped up around us on the deck, in the yard, and in the air of Boston as it exists in the winter. I eased into the hot water and breathed out steam and languidness. “Wow, I am so relaxed!” I was struck by how calm and good I felt. It was extraordinary.
Today, it is a bright and sunny day. We went for a run this morning: Jim in shorts, me in a T-shirt, and Rudy in his canine fur coat, feeling the brisk spring air like carbonated soda pop on our skin. The bugs are hatched from their winter slumber as well and the three of us commingle in the warm air. Flitting in and out of the others’ atmospheres. In this beautiful air that feels like a whisper from summer, I’ve dusted off my schedule and am back in my grind.
Read my series on the 8-week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) class I took over the winter here.
Featured/Header image source link.