Learning How To Rest
I went on a hike this morning with my mom around Frick Park. We normally get really really lost when we go on hikes, so this was a success because we used the all trails app and actually stayed on course! Yay!
The nice thing about just walking with someone for a couple hours is that you basically get to talk through everything weighing on you, and by the time you are back at the car you have a little bit more clarity.
My mom asked me how my first week at home from college has been and I kinda sighed and said “ummmm it was okay I guess”.
With that kind of answer, my mom probably knew that she was about to hear a long winded version of everything that wasn’t feeling good.
I expelled a lot of crap, and just talked through it, until some of it started to make sense.
Basically, since about spring break, I have been having panic attacks. Not just normal nervous Natalie stuff, like full blown white-hot terror shaking sweating dizzy kinda thing.
And because of that, everything else has been harder. It’s harder to go out with my friends, harder to take tests, harder to eat with stomach aches, just harder.
I am a fixer. So I have been on the move looking for things that are going to ‘fix’ my brain and make me zen again. I kinda hoped that downloading a meditation app and coloring more and taking CBD oil would make it all go away. While some of this stuff helps, it can’t fix it if I don’t address why I am having panic attacks in the first place. While the fixing thing was mostly a fruitless effort, I stumbled upon some old yoga books that I haven’t opened in over a year, which had some interesting insights.
Basically, the body is designed to send messages in the form of sensation. This can be perceived in sensations like hunger, thirst, fatigue, pain, energy, excitement, or panic. Our bodies are constantly talking to us, and responding to the environment around us. It is our job to learn how to tune into these messages and listen to what we actually need in the moment. Yoga teaches us to get on our mats, breathe, move, and listen to what our body is trying to tell us. We live is such an overscheduled, distracted world, that some people go through their days completely ignoring what their body wants, maybe food, water, sleep, fresh air, etc.
I found that in the midst of finals stress and work and other obligations, I too had a very hard time listening to my body’s messages. And of course the busier I got, the less time I set aside for yoga. But like an alarm clock, the messages got louder and louder until my body was screaming at me in a way that I couldn’t ignore.
For many, this takes the form of illness or injury, or for me, panic attacks. The weeks of not taking care of myself properly led to my body asking for something very simple, yet very difficult. REST.
I came home from school last weekend, planning on continuing my pattern of being on the go 24/7. But as the panic continued, I began to tune into what was going on.
I pulled out my yoga mat, and just laid there, on the floor, feeling the anxiety come over my body and then dissipate, like it always does, coming in waves.
It was like I could finally hear what I needed. I needed to rest.
Not like ‘take the afternoon off’, like full blown just chill the f*ck out for a long time.
I started to stretch and I could feel the tension in every single muscle in my body.
Now the hard part for me is not the self-inquiry. The hard part is actually doing what I know is going to help me. Letting go for a little while so that I can breathe again.
I unpacked all of that to my mom and thought through what it meant for me to just be.
We talked about how hard it is but how it is necessary.
Because you truly cannot live a full life from an empty cup, and that is what I was attempting to do.
So as difficult as it is for me to practice, I am dedicating the next couple weeks to slowing way down. Allowing myself to do simple things like watch tv, listen to music, go to bed early. Allowing myself to breathe so that I can be the best, healthiest version of myself.
Because if you don’t listen to what you need now, the alarm gets louder and louder and louder, until you’re forced to do something about it.