A part of me got downright pissed off today in spinning class. Imagine the scenario: It’s 6:30 a.m. and I’m pumping my legs to the music of Hotel California. It’s a hard morning for me, especially because I am forced to listen to Hotel California, but also because my legs can’t keep up with the rhythm.
Most spinning classes offer a nice large video screen and the instructor can choose videos for the class. Imagine some of the videos you might want to watch while exercising: Something encouraging perhaps? Maybe something that shows the beauty of the outdoors? Me, too.
Now, how about a wolf running down a baby antelope after five minutes of chase? Probably not the first thing you might consider, but you understand that the Planet Earth video directors might also want to show the drama that is nature. And nature is brutal beauty.
So, we watch the wolf thing, and after that a shark starts eating seals. The last time the instructor showed a Planet Earth video we watched TEN WHOLE MINUTES of orcas hunting down and killing a humpback mama and baby. There was blood, let me tell you, and lots of it. Was this the same video? I kept cringing with each changing scene, hoping it wasn’t that one.
Some of you may be wondering what the fuss is about. It’s nature, you say, it’s part of life. Others may agree wholeheartedly about why I was pissed off. Why should we have to watch that? It’s not something we need to see first thing in the morning. Or at any other time, for that matter.
For me, it wasn’t that I had feelings one way or the other. It was that I had BOTH of those feelings, and I was not sure what to DO about it! A part of me wanted to leave. It was uncomfortable. Another part of me wanted to stay, finish my good workout, and be with the gang. And from this conflicted dialogue in me, anger rose about the whole scene in general. I even sensed a part of me angry that I even had to have this conflict to begin with!
I am sure having more than one feeling about something is familiar to you. I am sure, at some point, you have felt opposite feelings about the same person or situation. For example, it’s your birthday and you know your Dad and step mom will be there with her kids. You like them and all, and you actually like that your Dad is happy. But you just wish you could have your family together just ONCE the way it was before the divorce. You want to feel the way it used to be before the changes that came with the
new and blended family. You acknowledge the feelings of longing and loss for the old way, grateful and glad for the new way, AND maybe feelings of dissatisfaction that what you are wanting for your birthday will probably not happen.
It’s hard being human. If the only emotions we had were happy or sad, it would be so much easier. But we are complex and have wonderful things like words to help us articulate the full expression that our feelings offer. I can be sad—but is it a happy sad, like in a romantic comedy, or is it a never-ending gray-cloud kind of sad? If we can actually pay attention to our inner world long enough, we get to learn more about ourselves and what it is that we are really feeling. In doing so, we are developing a rich inner relationship with ourselves so that we can get to the place where we know what we really want and what the next steps are for that.
So, back to spinning class. My legs are still not going fast, and the instructor yells at us to “increase your resistance!” And I feel all that in my body. I feel resistance to stay at the same time that I feel resistance to leave. I feel the part of me that is angry because I have to deal with this whole scenario, and so I turn inward and find out that, in fact, it isn’t really that I’m angry. What this part of me feels is sad… and from the inside I hear the word “sacred.”
And then I finally get it. I am upset because to me, the cycle of life is sacred. When I went salmon fishing for the first time, I cried and prayed and gave thanks that this salmon gave its life to me. I knew it was a gift to me and my family. We ate that fish with appreciation and love for its life. When we ate it, its body became a part of our bodies. And that is good.
Witnessing the sacred act of dying so that another may live is not honored when I am doing so while sweating to the oldies. It isn’t honored when I watch one, then another, and then another killing, without being able to give myself any pause for grace or connection. I want to honor and appreciate that as much as I do the cinematography and the stamina and heart it must have taken the film crew to spend the hours waiting for those images to occur.
Now that I know what all of this internal dialogue wanted to share with me, I am left with a feeling of relief and light heartedness. I don’t have the pressing need to stay or to go. Instead, I am able to naturally glide off the bike and say farewell to my friends as I move into the morning light that awaits me outside. I love life and everything that’s in it. It was just re-affirmed by my spinning class. How cool is that?
This blog is a way to share what it can be like to live in an embodied way. I use my background in social work, my many years of bodywork, and the skills I have learned as a certified Focusing teacher. Please read more about what I offer as a mentor and teacher on my WordPress site. I hope to hear from you!