Privilege Blog

Fitness Of Another Sort, Or, Saturday Morning at 7:24am

Some have put the question of fitness to the side, during the pandemic. Perfectly reasonable. Some have taken their fitness to new heights. Also reasonable. Me I’ve just been trying to do something about my goldarn anxiety.

Said phenomena, born of neurons and hormones and forces I know not which, has become more important to address as it seems I cannot drink alcohol=, my prior medication of choice, except in small and fairly infrequent amounts. This year I took on Dry January, as I’ve done before, and when I emerged my body chemistry seemed to have changed and I can now enjoy a glass or two once a week. That’s it. More, and my anxiety actually increases, which even I know is not the point.

So here are three activities (activities? are these activities? practices. let’s say practices) upon which I’ve embarked (embarked?) And if we want right now to offer Namaste to our Artsy Cousins around the globe, that would be appropriate.

First, a friend of mine in the UK recommended a sound bath. You might ask, “What is a ‘sound bath’?” but you might also think, hmmm i bet i know, and you’d be right. Ali Gunning at Resonant Being offers workshops in which you nigh-on literally bathe in sound.

I’ve done two sessions, online. Hypnotic? Healing? Really helpful for sleep? You decide. I’m going with all three.

Second, a college classmate led an online guided meditation session organized by the class committee, and I’ve started attending his online meditation group (known as a virtual sangha), most Friday mornings. It starts at 6am Pacific Time, so I have to get up early, but every time I do I’m glad.  Clayton also teaches mediation classes for organizations, and the schedule is here.

Third, and finally, this very morning I have taken a KiVo class (stands for Kinetic Voice,) created and led by a high school classmate, Lis Addison. It’s a combination of dance (with music from around the world), stretching, and breathing/chanting. (chanting? singing? allowing tones to exit your body? as you can see this space of non-WASPy physicality is new to me but I like it.) It was very good cardio exercise; also huge fun and a release.

We have, after all, endured captivity.


Thought. Maybe, for someone who has suffered both from acute awareness of what is appropriate, and a parallel inability to resist impulses to be inappropriate, a pandemic serves to shield one from shame thereby laying down a path to the previously off-limits self.

Or else it’s just fun to dance, and listen to gongs or the mellifluous voice of someone you know inviting you to pay attention. However, I am unlikely to join a monastery. I hope yours is a wonderful weekend.



14 Responses

  1. Anxiety is also built into my nervous system, and then was exacerbated by a series of unfortunate events over a number of years, which I’m still coming back from. I’m told the solution is crowding out the negative neural pathways in my brain with positive neural pathways. (You never lose the negative pathways, but you can outnumber them.) The things you describe here are all such good suggestions. Some months ago I found an online IG source for a meditative sound bath, and I’m trying to do simple sitting meditation daily. I don’t like drinking at home, though I do love an occasional cocktail in a shared convivial space. For a time, when we were months into the pandemic, I tried a daily cocktail and it just made me feel kind of ill. It also made me hungry for salty snacks I wouldn’t normally want. So I returned to my Pelligrino addiction. The man I’m staying with has wine and/or beer daily, but it doesn’t call to me. My drug of choice is more food than beverage. On some of my most anxious days, I have to stop myself from eating all the things. My simplest path to lower anxiety is a daily brisk walk/hike. It’s been harder to get out in the colder months, and all the gyms are closed, so my goal for spring is to get back to my walk/hike habit. More human interaction also helps, which is weird for this introvert to note. The implementing of that is on the horizon. Wishing you peace. xo.

  2. I have been on the anxiety train for many many years. Exercise is key (for me), high heart rate to the point of exhaustion. Like walking your dog so they don’t start acting neurotic.
    And less alcohol.
    I wonder if the pandemic has literally changed our hormones and how they interact with our environment? My body and mind are different now. Not better or worse, just different.

  3. Oh Lisa, anxiety has been a nemesis of mine for some time. I think all of the activities your doing are wonderful. I view myself like Red Riding Hood with a basket of goods designed to shield me from my own undoing. Sure as I think I have it under some control it hangs on to me like a terrible friend.

    All right, were going to make it through. We will all be part of history. I certainly believe this period will be studied for hundreds of years. You are not alone sister. I tell you that you are not alone.


  4. Whatever works, is the trick, right? So Artsy Cousins might be at a big advantage in finding solutions and the more Rational Sturdies might be wise to Ommmmm along with them these days if Ommm-ing quells or lessens anxieties. I’ve been doing Yoga Nidra regularly via an app and finding it really helpful. Also dropping into Wide-Legged Child’s Pose several times a day and focussing on breathing. . . Walking helps as well, although plantar fascitis is interfering somewhat.
    I wish you all the Calm you may find yourself, wherever. xo

    1. @frances, It’s absolutely the trick. The sound bath is essentially a yoga nidra practice. I’m glad that’s something you’ve found helpful. I should try child’s pose throughout the day – I did it this morning in the class and it felt so wonderful.

  5. I have, over the years, experienced periods of intense anxiety, all circumstance-related, all of which passed in time. The pandemic has not – as yet – prompted any recurrences and I think this may well be due to the fact that for a year I have been staring out of the window practically every single day for prolonged periods. They didn’t start intentionally and I don’t think: oh, find a window, get staring! I simply sit and stare. It is remarkably calming and my thoughts simply potter in and out. There are no rules, no set times and nobody does it with me, apart from the cat, who is absolutely top-hole at it.

  6. Wide legged child pose used to be something I did multiple times a day; it was the only thing that alleviated stress on my lower back, and probably helped with general equanimity as well. How did I lose that? Thank this thread for the reminder. I used to have a glass of wine but now find it makes things worse and I wake up in the middle of the night filled with anxiety. A walk helps, when I can walk…… otherwise I seem to be gathering a set of mindfulness tools that work at the moment, or at varying moments: yoga Nidra is one, although sometimes all I need is 15 minutes of birdsong, The pandemic seems to have stripped so much away and yet I don’t yet know who is emerging.

  7. I am not a particularly anxious person, except when involved in specific horrors like doing taxes or managing last-minute travel details. As the former was completed last Friday and the latter is but a dream, I am quite calm at the moment.

    But your relaxation activities are interesting, even if sound baths give me headaches, and meditation just makes me sleepy! To each her own. The kivo class sounds like fun, though. It reminds me of warm-up exercises we did in long-ago acting classes: movement, speech, and breath in unison. Chanting Shakespeare to measured breaths while waving and stretching and contorting. Like barre work before ballet class.

    I’m rather less energetic now: I just read (or recite) poetry aloud, with full expression, and feel all the tension just slip away. Then I have a good stretch afterwards. Namaste.

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