I had a great day Friday......until I saw Bill Withers passed. Then I had a mini meltdown. Can anyone else relate?
Humans are wired for connection, this new to MANY of us aloneness can be torturous.
Most of us are not trained to deal with our minds in isolation.
Blaise Pascal famously wrote, “All of humanity's problems stem from man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone.”
We are now faced with this aloneness along with an endless stream of news and updates. It is natural and beneficial to have a reaction to impending danger. We have anxiety stemming from the amygdala part of our brains. This activates our fight-or-flight impulse that compels us to act. However, chronic anxiety is not healthy or beneficial in any fashion. It’s not only an unpleasant psychological state, it can depress our immune system.
As I type this email, I hear the permanence of the bells ringing at Mt. Zion UMC and see the predictability of the giant tree near my window with its new brilliant green leaves. It's time to get outside (safely of course).
We have talked about grounding in several exercise classes over the last year or two. Let me remind me you of what that is:
Close your eyes and recall one of your favorite memories from a beach…
Feel the warm sun on your face...and the sticky wind that smells like ‘ocean’, blowing your hair back. The sand is hot...you have to move quickly to the cooler sand that’s just out of the wave’s reach. You walk over a band of crushed shells, careful not to cut yourself...then you reach the water’s edge.
The water feels cold at first, sending a shiver up your legs, through your lower back, and up into your neck. Then you settle in right there at the perfect spot...the waves coming in are stretched thin enough so they don’t splash when hitting your ankles...and they never recede quite far enough to break the connection you’ve made.
And you relax...slowly breathing in that delicious briny ocean air that just feels like pure nourishment to your soul. Your body relaxes and all the stress melts away...your mind lets go of all the problems it was working on solutions for. As the waves come and go, you slowly sink as the sand is moved out from under your feet...and it just feels like your connection is deepening to this soul-soothing, massive body of water.
And, no matter what is going on in your life...you...feel...better...
Maybe you found that feeling on a mountain, looking out over a mist filled valley as the sun came up…
Or while walking barefoot on the grass in a meadow that smelled of honeysuckle...
In those moments (and in those memories), you are grounded. Being grounded can mean that you’re fully present and aware of your body...and/or you’re feeling a strong connection to the earth.
We’ve all experienced being grounded...feeling “at home”. But it can be a fleeting experience. Just like batteries, we need to be recharged. Luckily, it's pretty simple. Just go outside, take your shoes off, stand on the grass, dirt, or sand. Seated or standing. Take a breath.....then another....now slow those breaths down…
You got this.
If you’re looking for online movement instruction, here are a couple of good options:
1) These are from the JCC instructors. My parents attend class at the JCC and speak very highly of these classes. Here’s a playlist with 6 classes that are 30 min to an hour, each: www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLsk-xNMDePRFFkP0ym8sphCqIpAIE5nRQ
2) BBS recently started a class called Breath, Brains and Balance. Cynthia and I learned a lot of the content we used in the class from an instructor training we attended by Exercise ETC. Now they’re offering “Brains & Balance Past 60” on a YouTube channel. They post a 20-30 minute "mini-class" every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Each class features a "thought for the day", a brain game, and an interactive balance drill: www.youtube.com/channel/UCWtw1ApZ6igQZhCrkUeu5pA/videos
Time Machine Insights (aka, TMI)
Sandy Butterworth gave me permission to share her story, “Speaking of George Burns”.
You talked about your dad's experience with George Burns and it reminded me of a story my Gramps used to tell about him. My grandparents lived in Florida in a large retirement community back in the 80s. George Burns came to the area with his hilariously dry comedy routine and told the story about when he met Dolly Parton. After he did his comedy routine and she sang her songs, a band began playing so the guests could dance for the rest of the evening. He asked Dolly to dance. As he told it, she wasn't very tall but wore extremely high heels and he'd never enjoyed being a short man more. He said every where he looked he was surrounded by the best view any man could ever imagine!😋
Mimi Krumholz gave me permission to share her story, “Muscle Memory”...reposted from her blog, Waiting for the Karma Truck, found here: waitingforthekarmatruck.com
How are your spirits? Do you feel it as bizarre as I do to find my days devoid of certain hallmarks that chronicle the passage of time? I thought today was Thursday, and arguably no 24 hour period is far different from another right now - morning walk, evening walk, FaceTime with my kids and kidlets, reading, cooking, knitting and trying to teach myself how to needle felt (and failing miserably). As I write, it sounds like I'm doing this sheltering in place pretty damn well - and I am, but for the spectre of my devoted doctor reminding me on a videocall about my high risk status - blah, blah, blah...I hear it, I can't fully absorb it or I wouldn't be able to move.
Which brings me to why I'm writing. When we speak of muscle memory, we typically think of our bodies - using our muscles with regularity so that they know what to do and become better with use. Good thing too. Get out there people, if you can - the birds are desperate to be heard.
What about the muscle memory of connection? We learn how to interact with each other, we develop our communication skills with practice (admittedly some more than others), we learn to listen and respond (again, some more than others). When I was in grad school, active listening was a year long course - and frankly, it was exhausting. That said, it's a muscle I use and use and use. And when there's no one around, I listen to the subtlety of sounds I typically pay no attention to.
How are you doing with the muscle memory of your heart? Of the thoughts you are giving free rein in your gorgeous head? Are you exercising your power to choose? And can you choose hope in the face of so much fear and sorrow? Can you choose to see some beauty despite this frightening reality that unfolds with increasing despair each hour? I cop to being a Pollyana, though even I struggle at the moment. So, I return to muscle memory. I am pretty limber with hope, I am incredibly flexible when it comes to love - in fact, I wish my physical muscle memory was as toned.
Krista Tippett wrote - "Hope, like every virtue, is a choice that becomes a habit that becomes spiritual muscle memory. It's a renewable resource for moving through life as it is, not as we wish it to be." I hope you are well, I hope you are exercising your mind and your body. I hope.
Please keep your stories coming...we all love TMI...
Yours in Health,