Quarantine, living in the suburbs, and winter have conspired to keep me inside more, more sedentary and more tied to my chair throughout the day. Too much time sitting, especially at the computer, is taking its toll on my body.
Although I create space daily for my fitness practice, and although I typically exercise on average 2–3 hours a day, what I am doing is not enough. This is a good example of where consistency doesn’t always cut it.
I spent most of 2019 intensely retraining my nervous system, learning how to move functionally, and building strength.
Without a gym, or even a place where I can do a more vigorous strength workout, without heavy weights, and without focused one on one support on a regular basis, my body has reverted to old habits.
This is a place, for me, where virtual isn’t good enough. I need tactile feedback to both keep me out of my old pathology and reinforce to my nervous system that it is safe to squat an inch lower or hinge a little deeper.
A Hit to Confidence
Now this is all showing up in the place where I to go to feel good about myself and to refuel my confidence: flying trapeze.
I’ve only been flying at most once a week since the cold weather set in; the commute from where I’m living is cognitively draining and can be too much during the week. And the drive is even more sitting.
I’ve been feeling the distress of a weakened body that doesn’t want to cooperate to let me fly.
This isn’t the first time I’ve had to rebuild my trapeze skills, and I know with time and proper training I’ll rebuild my strength and my skills will return.
But in the moment, the struggle is real, and it’s upsetting and frustrating.
Perhaps you have your own version of this scenario. How do you work with it?
Here is a glimpse into my process.
Recognize the Attachments
I recognize that this situation is upsetting because I’m attached to my physical strength, and to generating confidence based on my physical abilities. My frustration is a form of resistance to what is: not wanting to accept that this is where I am.
A “logical” reaction from an outsider might be to observe that it’s “only flying trapeze.” It’s not like I’ve lost my ability to walk or perform other basic daily functions. We are talking about an activity that is a luxury in terms of movement. In the grand scheme of things, I’m extremely healthy and fit.
I should feel good about that. I should feel grateful.
This is all true.
(Here comes the “yes, and”…)
AND it is all irrelevant.
Eliminate the Shoulds
When it comes to feelings, “should” doesn’t apply. Logic has no place or power in the realm of emotions. We feel what we feel. Attempting to rationalize out of it only makes it worse. It’s the second arrow.
Yes, there are many people in the world facing many worse challenges right now. And, also, that doesn’t diminish whatever challenges I face.
It’s not a contest. There’s no hierarchy of pain.
Diminishing or denying our own struggles doesn’t ease anyone else’s pain,
Witnessing and Holding Space
What I can do — and what I do in practice — is witness it: I bring awareness to what is here and what resides beneath the surface.
Beneath the anger and frustration lay a deep sadness, a loss that calls to be grieved and honored. Even if that loss of strength and skills is temporary, and even if it still leaves me in a healthy and functioning body, it is still a loss to be grieved. It’s not any less a loss because I have all my limbs and my health.
Even in this sadness and anger and grieving, I also feel grateful. Among other things, I feel grateful for what I can do, for the strength and skills I do have, and for the knowledge I’ve gained about what support I need to rebuild.
I can, and do, feel all of these things at once, even if they feel like they are diametrically opposed.
This ability to hold space for opposites is a skill in itself, and one I practice with consistent, deliberate intention through practices like meditation and Yoga Nidra.
Trapeze has never been just about learning trapeze skills. It’s a vehicle for exploring life, such as the issues of fear, trust, and letting go, among many others. These days, trapeze practice is about so much more than even those big themes.
There are many practices at play here:
- a practice of rooting my confidence in something other than physical achievement
- a practice of loving trapeze for the process, rather than the thrill of the next skill or trick
- a practice of letting go of what was, or past achievements, and embracing what is
- a practice of meeting myself where I am
- a practice of surrender
- a practice of finding confidence in moments of regression
- a practice of self-love, self-kindness, and self-compassion even in the midst of struggle.
Most of all, it’s a practice in acceptance of what is, of honoring where I am, and allowing that to be ok.