Moving Through Big Emotions

I feel seasick a lot of the time at the moment. I’m working through a perfect storm of grief in my life. Between relationship woes, no longer living with my beloved cat, illness and death among family and friends and moving from my long (long) time home in New York City to Montreal (a city I love, but under these challenging circumstances …), it is an effort every day to remember who I am. Never mind why I am and if my life has any meaning or purpose. Fortunately, I have a good amount of challenging and enjoyable work to keep me busy. I have family and friends. And, there’s movement.

I almost wrote, “I’ve learned” or “I’ve discovered”, but that wouldn’t be right. I have known for some time that coming home to my body through movement is one of the ways I locate myself in space and time. Movement offers sign posts to help me map the territory of my being-ness. Movement reconnects to me to my aliveness, especially in times when even my enjoyment of food and sleep are interrupted. Yes, I might move less or exert less. And, I am deeply grateful to be able to continue moving, in the midst of the waves of upheaval.

In Montreal, I’m re-connecting with the wooded trails on Mont Royal and the slow climb up the paved road over on a 40lb BIXI (the social bike system in Montreal). I’m making myself a Thursday morning fixture in the pocket park across from my apartment, where I jump rope and do a sequence of “regular” lunges and other Bulgarian and Romanian versions (I don’t know why the movements are ascribed these nationalities). I’ve gone back to mat yoga, after many years of aerial yoga and am re-acquainting myself with that challenge.

There are brief moments when I can almost forget my troubles and just breathe into the pleasure of my heart beating and my lungs expanding. A respite from the seasickness. Becalmed and invigorated.

Also, there is a special side benefit that occasionally comes with my BIXI workouts. This morning, as I huffed up the road, I passed a Montreal public works truck in the vista parking lot. A woman jumped out of the truck and started calling out to everyone (in French)—“She’s on a BIXI. Amazing.” And then she pretended to bow down to me. I waved and laughed. That was a nice shot of encouragement. I’ve had similar events happen on my BIXI workouts before.

Of course, other times, I’m moving and crying at the same time. (Like when I started my ride this morning—before the nice bit of cheering—I was missing my cat.) Crying and moving is its own gift. I’ve accompanied others on their run-cries, too, when they were traversing difficult periods. I have a precious memory of a run during the last weeks of my father’s life—it was a misty, grey morning (probably in March). I was strung out with the sadness of impending loss. The wet air was unseasonably warm and my long sleeve shirt felt like it was tightening around my lungs. So, I took it off. I never run shirtless, in just a sports bra. I don’t have anything against it … for other people. In fact, I admire women who express that freedom. I am both self-conscious and sun-conscious (after all, my father died of melanoma). That day in 2015, there was no sun to burn my skin and I didn’t care who saw me. I just wanted to feel my body blend with the air, to cleanse my spirit, to let my sweat meet the morning mist on my skin. For me, there’s solace, even healing, in moving (literally moving) through the emotion.  

Now, if only there could be warmer weather, that would be a treat!

10 thoughts on “Moving Through Big Emotions

  1. Big hugs to you Mina. I’ve always found movement an effective way to move through emotions also. Sorry you are dealing with so much right now. I am hoping for warmer weather too!

      1. My legs are fine! I get some stiffness in my glutes after this sort of thing but it hasn’t been bad. Thank you!

  2. What a lovely post about the connection between mental health and exercise. You are making me miss Montreal! When I visit my favourite thing to do is borrow a friends very old, heavy bike (slighly lighter than a BIXI) and go everwhere. Useing the Metro extends my range even further! Montreal is an example to all other North American Cities of how good active transportaion infrastructure can happen if the political will is there.

      1. It’s a struggle in Halifax, we have few lanes and people park in them! The ironoy is that although Halifax is much smaller than Montreal, I have explored more of Montreal because of the ease of public transit and bike lanes. In too many places, The mental health benefits of cycling are undermined by the stress of “Sharing” the road with big cars.

  3. I am so sorry you are going through these hard times. But your BIXI stories made me smile. I love riding them around Montreal. They feel indestructible, like tanks of the bike world.

  4. I loved this one, Mina.
    My dad just died (in March) and I’ve been seeking some solace in exercise too.
    Sorry you are going through so much right now.

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