I have been feeling a bit stuck. Perhaps it’s the sameness of every single day in my current existence combined with the sudden *poof* disappearance of upcoming deadlines (read: gigs) and a feeling of goals being irrelevant. It’s not that I don’t also have moments of inspiration, but I think there’s something deeply unsettling for humans about being constrained to a small physical radius, so staying in the house creates an inherent sense of stuck-ness.
Are you feeling immobile like I am?
I woke up particularly stiff this morning. Recently, I have felt as though my body is trying to escape itself during the night - I wake in strange positions with my legs splayed and neck craned, arms stretched overhead, all asymmetrical and askew. Along with the existential implications (even sleep isn't comfortable at the moment), my spine is not keen on these unusual postures, which I must be holding for hours in the night.
Our bodies are made to move freely. And because of the magic of the mind-body connection, it is not at all surprising that when we feel mentally constrained, our bodies pick up on that and tighten, either in an attempt to push outward or to retract and take up less space.
Mobility is defined by Oxford as “the ability to move or be moved freely and easily.” In my bodywork with Jay, we have focused a lot on mobility, particularly of my pelvis, which has historically been the center of a network of muscles that I thought had to be gripped tightly to hold myself upright in the world. Perhaps I was subconsciously using those muscles to make myself feel invincible as I faced the uncertainty and criticism of an opera career?
The biggest tool I have at my disposal now is awareness: noticing when the muscles are released and when they start to squeeze again. I also have a bunch of exercise options to increase mobility in my pelvis and spine, and I trust myself to know what will help on any given day. The chronic pain I was experiencing has disappeared and I am improving my ability to move freely and easily, hooray!
But can we look again at that Oxford definition? Mobility is about moving, but it’s also about being moved. There is more ease available to us when we give up control. I have learned that I don’t need to protect myself from uncertainty and I don’t need to consciously hold myself upright. Inherent in my existence is the ability to walk tall through the world without really putting in effort, and certainly without fully understanding or knowing how I'm doing it. I also feel most alive when I am moved emotionally, by a choral piece or a walk in nature or a scene in a movie. I am moved by vulnerability and a sense of connection, the very things I feel slipping away when I retract tightly into myself and try to control everything.
I'd say we are in a moment of collective paralyzation. Whether we are working from home while taking care of young children, mourning the loss of all upcoming income and worrying about the futures of our industries, spending time bored and alone, or working on the front lines to make sure that society functions, we are surrounded by a paralyzing bubble of fear and uncertainty. Perhaps we try to escape our circumstances with outbursts of splayed emotion or by craning our necks to stare at distracting television, or perhaps we are deadening ourselves, denying our nerves their usual function in order to get through each day. My intention for this day, with its unnerving similarity to yesterday (and tomorrow), is to allow myself emotional mobility, the freedom to "feel all the feels", whatever they may be. And then to find physical mobility from that vulnerable state.
Today, mobility for me includes some dancing in the kitchen, some deep reclined butterfly stretch, and my venture into the outside world through either a walk or a run. I don’t know yet which will make sense, but because I am not attached to a specific outcome for my outside time, I am already feeling more mobile internally, less stuck and stiff.
May we all find ways to mobilize our bodies, minds, and emotions during this pandemic. May we all be vulnerable and allow beauty, pain, and poignant experiences to move us.
Next time: the converse of mobility…. stability!