Pump, pump, pump. My breath heaves in my chest. Pump, pump, pump. I feel my quadriceps burning. Each cell calls for oxygen. Pump, pump, pump. My feet spin the pedals in their rhythmic and circular journey. Pump, pump, pump. I propel up this hill to the beat of my own heart and momentum takes me all the way. Once I’m here, right now, in this up-the-hill-feel-the-burn-moment, I don’t want to stop! Every cell in my body chooses to go upwards and onwards!
This hill that calls me to the top, drawing life-force energy through my entire being, is the same hill that moments ago, I dreaded! Even before I saw it, I knew it approached and my awareness withdrew from the bliss of my then-present moment of whizzing along the flats on my beautiful road-bike. I was ahead of myself, imagining the pain in my legs as I struggled up the hill. Following the images of pain, comes the thought "why don’t I give up and turn back?” In fact, I sometimes use this hill as an excuse to drive instead, and not to bother with getting on my bike in the first place.
But that is not what I have chosen today, and for that I am grateful. I am grateful because whenever I choose movement, whether it be twenty minutes of yoga before bed, a walk with a friend, dancing while I make dinner, a run when I am upset; or today, a bike ride to get from point A to point B, I come home to myself. My awareness drops from the busy thoughts that barrage through my head and I settle into the rhythm of my breath and the sensations in my body. I am present. I am available.
Any activity that produces a satisfying sense of aliveness addresses the problem that most of us encounter: the split between body and mind. Leaders in body-centred therapy, Kathlyn and Gay Hendricks, find that rather than living as integrated beings aware of our full presence, early in life we "develop a split between feeling and thinking, or body and mind. Messages from the body (such as what we are feeling and what we want) become ignored or denied by the mind” (At the Speed of Life). By getting active we bring life through our cells and are able to access the wisdom that our bodies offer to us so generously.
Here’s an example. After experiencing a couple days of the blahs (not much life energy flowing), I decided to go for a road ride. At first, I rode reluctantly, resenting the strain on my legs and the energy the bike required. But when I got to the hill, yes, THE hill, I was overcome with tremendous energy! I pumped up that hill faster and more powerfully than ever before and I realized I was ANGRY! As I pumped up the hill, I felt rage surging through me. I got into it. I began cursing on my way up! I swore loudly and with abandon. When I reached the top, I felt exhilarated and clear. I surprised myself that my days of the "blahs” were actually stifled anger that I had been unwilling to express. By choosing to get on my bike, my body spoke to me and I cleared up what was necessary for me to move forward in joy.
So, the question remains: "are you willing to come home to yourself and move the energy in your body today?” Aliveness abounds and it doesn’t take much to get a flow going. Whoever you are, however you are, find a way to fall in love with movement again.
Karen McMullen is a certified life coach and a watercolour artist based in Vancouver. Using a loving and playful body-centred approach, she invites her clients to come back to their authentic selves, and to transform their limiting beliefs into inspiring new pathways forward.