I woke up this morning with that agony that fills your body when you're deep in the depths of despair. There are people who think emotional pain isn't as bad as physical pain but here's the rub, there's empirical evidence that physical pain and emotional pain are registered in the exact same region of the brain. In other words, your brain can't tell if you're suffering from heartache or someone stabbed you with a knife and both hurt.
My opinion is that the feeling comes first and then the mind scrapes around for some explanation (usually it's wrong.) It grabs anything that's happened or might happen, "I must be sad because no one answered my email. I feel heart-broken because my daughter didn't get a part in the school play. I hurt because someday I'm going to die. One of those must be the reason for my pain."
So I'm sitting there, literally because I'm doing 20 minutes of mindfulness. I can feel exactly where the pain arises accompanied by my mind working overtime to explain the pain; a part of me knows I'm just in pain and I'm filling in the blank as to why. It could be because of my pervious night's dream or some imagined horror or it could be because I'm slowly coming off my anti-depressants. I'm doing it because I know that there's a 65% chance of preventing relapse for those who practise mindfulness and want to see if I'm in that group. I may not be but for God's sake, I studied it, I should practise what I preach. P.S. I won't feel any shame if I have to go back on them as I know it's nothing personal, I just might be in the minority who need to be medicated.
Later that day, I was supposed to do a Pilate's class and inside I'm going, "No way. I can't do this." I dragged myself up anyway and went to the class. I tried to pay attention to the area I was exercising in my body without my mind dragging me back into endless rumination. To me Pilates is moving meditation in that you focus on a specific area in the body and automatically the voices get quiet. You can't be engaging one of your senses and having a chattering mind at the same time. I can feel how my mind wants to snare me back and I'm gently trying to take my focus back down into my body; it's like a battle.
Near the end of the class, the instructor did something she's never done before. She took hold of my entire leg and told me if it was OK to let it go, let her take the weight. Now, I don't usually trust anyone to take hold of any part of my body but I've known her for 20 years so I thought, "Ok, let's give it to her."
She held it and moved it without my muscles trying to grab it back for a change. Then she held the other leg and I have to say that this surrender, this feeling of being vulnerable was something I've never experienced before. When she placed both legs on the ground it occurred to me how I live my life contracting, holding onto my body most of the time to protect myself. It's similar to when you poke a starfish or insect and it retracts it's extremities. I imagine everyone, maybe without realizing, is holding onto them selves, clenching their muscles around them like armour and probably that constriction is reflected in the mind. Fear could be the reason we contract ourselves physically and mentally. I don't remember a time when I could just lie on the floor and not obey the impulse to get up. My mind usually grabs onto something I have to do immediately accompanied by shame if I just lie there and not move.
As I feel myself sinking into the ground, I get a feeling that slow waves of warm syrup are pouring through me. I then actually feel that burning you get around your eyes when tears well up. I I haven't felt this for decades, probably because of medication. When I start to congratulate myself for these feelings, I lose the sensation and go back into my head. Then when I focus inside again and get that feeling of nothingness, just drifting in warm water I start to hink this could be a sign of coming off medication, this could be that think called 'feelings.' If the sacrifice is to feel pain once in awhile, to get a hit of this sunlight might be worth it.
When I finally got up I realized I had to get to a party (as if the world would stop if I didn't go) a mere hour before getting on the train to Exeter to do my show. I got lost on the way in the car and dripping in sweat I found the venue. I thought it was going to be a small gathering but there was a large roomful of socialites (rich, blonde and thin) all sitting at tables listening to someone talking about the need to feed African people. I thought I was going to a birthday party. I had no idea we were there to save people. I gave my friend the birthday present anyway. (It wasn't her birthday). Everyone laughed thinking I did it to be funny. No, I did it because I didn't want to miss an event in case I would be forgotten. I had to hold myself back from giving myself a spurt of anger because I didn't stay on the floor and just calmly get up in time to catch my train. This becoming aware and breaking old habits is such a hard thing. I just try to forgive myself and think maybe, maybe next time I can stay on the floor a little longer.