What Comes Up, Comes Out.
MUSINGS OF AN ETHICIST
-CHELSEA L. SWITZER
STILLNESS IS THE MOVE
I have a hard time sitting still. Even though I credit that very trait for my attraction to triathlon (just when you get sick of swimming, you bike! And just when you don’t want to bike anymore, you run!) it can be very difficult for me to shut that buzzing mechanism off. I find it particularly challenging when I am immersed in a practice like ashtanga yoga because for as much focus as it commands, it is a very active practice. Additionally, as a Libra with vertigo, my continual struggle for balance is both internal and external. I struggle to quiet my mind, to mollify the continual weighing of pros and cons, but I also struggle to balance in standing poses like tree pose. The greatest challenges for me are of course those that offer a double dose of mental and physical – any seated hip opener or any run longer than 25 miles – where both mind and body begin twitching with annoyance. In those moments, I say to myself “shut up Chelsea and breathe” and like Sisyphus, attempt tranquility of body and mind to no avail. But today, I had a philosophical realization and I won’t be quite as hard on myself. Perhaps you won’t either.
I began my first forward bend of the morning in what can only be deemed ”a hurry.” My commute had been unusually frenetic for a Sunday morning and thoughts were bumping around in my head like a pinball machine…until I rose a bit too quickly, wobbled, and I saw it. Now, normally I am in the back of the room and though I see various signs on the wall (balance, joy, meditation and their Sanskrit translations) today I was further forward and one sign was directly in my frame of vision: STILLNESS. I chuckled and blinked. As often happens to me, a particular song popped in my head and it stayed put. It was Solange Knowles singing a version of the Dirty Predators song “Stillness is the Move.” Now, not only is it a great song but that smooth hook from “Bumpy’s Lament” by Soul Mann & the Brothers (used by both Dr. Dre and Erykah Badu) just oozes Sunday morning ease.
I blinked my eyes open and I could hear the lyrics, “Isn’t life under the sun just a crazy, crazy dream? Isn’t life just a mirage of the world, before the world? Why am I here and not over there?” I tried to clear my head but it kept moving, so I kept breathing and continued. And a funny thing happened -my practice opened slowly and each time I rose, stillness remained fixed on the wall in front of me as a reminder. As I moved, my breath was measured and though I wobbled, I smiled as I realized that maybe there is movement in stillness. Maybe that’s the balance I am seeking and that there can be stillness in movement and movement while motionless. My therapist is continually urging me to “sit in the uncomfortable place” and examine my thoughts, emotions and reactions and I continually push back worried I’ll end up stuck in an unhappy milieu. But today I vowed to ease up on myself. I left the studio singing “I’ll see you along the way baby, the stillness is the move”. Groove on friends.
Chelsea Switzer is an avid runner, yogi and triathlete. A proud Canadian she has a mild addiction to cheese, chocolate and fine single malt scotch but has also been known to scarf down a box of s’mores pop tarts. She holds a Masters in Bioethics from the University of Pennsylvania and currently lives in Philadelphia with her cat Puddy.