mood reversibility

Photo by David Marcu on Unsplash

unpolished thoughts 3/11/2019

An annoying ache that has been with me for a couple days now put me in a bad mood when I woke up this morning.

But a funny thing happened.

I was able to step back enough to observe my mood from the outside and watch how it distorted every last thing. That observation set in motion a different process that eventually made it possible to reverse my way back out of the gray.

But at first my partner’s good cheer was distorted into bother. Loud sounds caused by a child at play during my morning meditation distorted the kid into a little brat. When my partner and I went out for a run, I took my low energy for proof that I was decrepit and weak.

But none of this was true.

Although this was exactly how my mood felt and it didn’t feel at all natural to look on the bright side of things, I knew that on another day, none of these experiences would have tasted this way.

My partner asked how I was doing, so I told the truth: “I’m in a bad mood.” But otherwise I kept my mouth shut.

I could sense that by embodying my mood with sounds, words and ideas that she too would experience, I would only invite our shared experience to move towards my gray inner world.

That simply wasn’t necessary.

When she noticed the first signs of blooming daffodils in the woods where we ran, I thought to myself that I knew next to nothing about these kinds of signals from nature.

But rather than amplifying this voice, I just allowed the warmth of her excitement to pass through me and felt grateful for her presence.

As I ran, I felt the vulnerability of my right ankle as we dodged rocks over uneven and muddy ground.

Of necessity, I placed more attention on the position of my right heel in relation to the knee and hip joint. In doing so, I noticed a difference in the level of engagement of my upper legs on the two sides.

By studying what made me feel more safe and solid on my left foot, I was able to gradually reimagine the movement of my right heel and find a feeling of more stability there.

It’s easy to pinpoint the exact moment my mood shifted into a brighter direction, making possible the curiosity that led me to these discoveries. It happened right after I took a false step on the right foot and began to roll over the outer edge into the land of sprained ankles.

An instant feeling of panic and self-condemnation shot through me as I anticipated shooting pain. A nasty injury would seem to be the naturally sour frosting on the bitter cake of my morning.

But that’s not what happened.

Instead, my left knee buckled and I simultaneously applied the brakes on my forward momentum. Somehow I hopped forward and caught myself with the weight on my left foot.

Despite saving myself from injury, my initial response was to imagine the external appearance of my stumbling on the path. I only saw my misstep, my surrender to gravity, and my failure to gracefully navigate through uneven ground.

But after a moment I refilled my half-empty cup to half-full.

Because, in fact, in that instant, I realized that I had followed a principle I have practiced so many times in slow motion during Awareness Through Movement lessons.

In ideal action, every movement is reversible. It’s possible to stop and change direction without disturbance.

It wasn’t like a film where the whole scene paused and I switched from running forwards to running backwards, but I had stopped myself from continuing to place more weight on my right foot when doing so would have surely caused me harm.

My “buckling” left knee was actually a sign of intelligence rather than impotence. Continuing to extend the left leg would have made it impossible not to place weight on the right foot.

While it wasn’t the picture of grace, I had just reversed myself in order to avoid continuing along a path of harm and I came out unscathed. I broke my stride and created a new problem, but this was solved by the extra hop.

I was safe.

As I continued running, I reflected on what had just happened and found nothing in the experience to further support my bad mood.

Just as there was no reason to push harder through my right foot when it wasn’t properly supporting me, there was no reason to continue looking for external confirmation of the bleak outlook that I had woken up with this morning.

I didn’t immediately shift into technicolor like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, but I did allow myself to begin opening, letting in a little more sunlight, a little more of the melody of my partner’s voice, a little more of the caress of the light wind through the trees.

Nothing extraordinary here, just another little lesson that I plan to hold onto.


Awareness Through Movement is a movement practice to rewrite the story of how you move through the world

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