We are shaped by our experiences……


Getting off the hamster wheel - StrategiesAs I sit in my house in the Maamturk mountains watching a shower of rain approaching and listening to the sound of the wind rising, I am reflecting on the fact that we are all shaped by our experiences in life, be they good, bad or neutral. Looking at the trees and shrubs around my house I see they are all shaped by continually being blown by the West wind.  Thus they all have a slight incline towards the East in their orientation.

It is the same for each of us I believe and having taught mindful movement for nearly 30 years now I have watched all my students and myself continually changing shape as we explore the experiences that have shaped us. This pandemic has truly shaped all of us in ways we may never have imagined or believed possible.

For most of my life I have been shaped by an inner restlessness, which has manifested itself in a nagging sense of being in the wrong place all the time. On the positive side, this restlessness has allowed me to find a work life that meant travelling all over this country and lately to Greece, France, Belgium and Holland.  Almost every weekend I found myself waking up in a different bed; groping  for a different light switch if dark; switching on a variety of kettles for tea or coffee and trying to figure out the workings of numerous electric and gas cookers!!! All of this felt normal to me.

Packing and unpacking a suitcase was a regular habit and leaving bits of myself all over the place a common occurrence.

On the negative side, that restlessness made it very difficult to rest and relax as a part of me was continually ready to go…….

And the mental side of this restlessness meant I was continually fighting with the part of me that is quiet, introverted and doesn’t want to keep reaching out, being out, going out….

For many reasons I grew up with this part of me being unacceptable to the people around me and in the end I  saw that part as flawed and unacceptable. That push and pull between being out and being in  has shaped almost every interaction of my life to date.

Until now. Covid 19 put a total stop to me travelling anywhere further than my house and the local supermarket. I have walked no further than a couple of metres from home to work this past year. And I have come face to face with the depth of the restlessness within.  No more than the trees in my garden I am clearly seeing the way the strong winds of restlessness have orientated all of my being towards going, reaching out, going, reaching out, like a hamster on a cartwheel.

Covid pulled the brake on that cart wheel and sent me flying to a full stop. When I got my bearings all my energy went into creating another version of  restlessness, go on zoom, text, write cards, letters, emails, make WhatsApp calls- the voice inside said “just keeping going, keep reaching out, keep busy, you can do it,”.

Yet slowly but surely the winds of change were blowing in the background. More days of absolute silence allowed the restlessness to reveal itself, and somehow after two weeks of self quarantine on my return from a work trip to Belgium last September, curiosity began to take over from criticism.

Why was being quiet and introverted wrong and outgoing and extroverted right ?????

Was there any possibility of both being ok ?

Was there a possibility of recognising under the restlessness was a very young part of me seeking acceptance and belonging and that years of practice had taught me how to be extroverted and outgoing?

At this stage in my life could they co-exist?

Is there a mid point where these two shapes can build a bridge of connection with each other?

I don’t know yet, as they are just beginning to get to know one another, learning to recognise the shapes of each other and most importantly not to be scared when they meet…..

All I do know is I went into Covid 19 one shape and am coming out of it a different shape -even if it is all inside at present, like a chrysalis awaiting something new, something different to be revealed….

Shaped by yet another experience.

And now as I end this little musing the trees are quiet as the wind subsides and the sun emerges to warm their new found buds,- awaiting the right time to reveal themselves, to blossom……

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