All stuffed up

I’ve had all too much time over the past two months to observe the effects of anxiety on the body, in various kinds of circumstances.  For me, anxiety is energy, nervous energy that clings on high in my body, in my neck, my chest, my shoulders.  It’s a little like a perpetually held breath, or a constant state of startlement, something that draws the body up and keeps it there.  It’s stiff, static, stagnant.  It’s tiring.

It’s a hard thing to fight against, because my instinct when I don’t feel well is to pause until I feel better.  I’m not good at pushing myself through discomfort, even when it’s good for me.  In this case, it seems like pausing is one of the worst things.  Pausing just makes all the stuck anxiety-energy stick even harder, and lets more energy pile up behind it, and everything gets worse.

I’ve been studying qigong (“energy work”) at the martial arts school for a couple of months now, long enough to have heard my teacher say this a few times: you can’t force energy to move.  You can’t bully around the energy in your body, all you can do is guide it, and be as patient as it takes for it to go.  I am so new to this study, I barely feel like I know anything about guiding energy or moving energy or what that should feel like or how I can tell what’s happening, but I think about that saying, and I think about how I feel when I experience anxiety, and it helps me understand.  I can’t wish away anxious-energy and I can’t force it out and thinking that way just makes me feel worse.  I have to find ways to lead that energy out.  I need to be patient with myself.

It’s hard.  Always hard to wait to feel better, when one is sick or hurt or weak.  It’s hard, when I just want to curl up around myself, to straighten up and move.  It’s hard, when I feel weak and incapable, to put myself out in the world and make contacts with people, personal contacts, professional contacts.   It’s hard, when I don’t know what to say, to sit down with a keyboard and write something and let other people read it.  It’s hard to encourage people when I just want a hug, or to cry.

Patience is needed.  Intention is needed.  Some degree of determination is needed, because movement is needed: movement in all these difficult ways, internal and external ways, physical and mental ways, uncertain, no-guarantee ways.  I need to move, and sometimes it’s so hard.  But I need to move.

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