Sunday, May 21, 2017

Why Mono Was One of This Year's Greatest Gifts

Dear Rachel,

What cool observations of yours! I loved your letter and am excited with the direction you took it. I have several trains of thought around intuitive movement that I'm still learning how to articulate, but they would be fun to dialogue about with you. Case in point, my processing below: I only scratched the surface of the questions you asked.

I've been listening to birds more the past couple of months. They sing their songs all day long: in the morning I rise and hear them, during my walks at work I listen for them - they each sing such beautiful, spontaneous songs.

But, through listening to them, I've also learned from them. Their songs have taught me the beauty of restful contemplation - living slow in tension with my inherently ambitious rush-filled routine.
Rachel, I think my journey towards intuitive movement has stemmed from this restful contemplation. I want to share with you how having mono allowed me to realize my longing to return to dance.

On Easter this year, I starting feeling mono-like symptoms, took a test and it proved positive. Mono took me in and out of work for three weeks and quite often plopped me on my living room couch. The first Monday morning when I realized I wouldn't be going to work that entire day, amidst the puffed up eyelids, and filled up sinuses, a smile emerged across my face and my heart slowed down as I sunk into the couch: REST. Finally. My mind was at such odds with the reaction of my body as it found a space to just be… 

Lesson learned//loud + clear: I hadn't been giving myself nearly adequate enough rest. 
I had been giving time-heavy doses of energy to the routines of my life that I thought were making me my most productive and useful self. I made plans so that I could keep the energy moving, keep the momentum going. With the ammo from enough penciled-in friend times, Gilmore Girls episodes, workouts, healthy meals, COFFEE, ministry, I could make this stressful workweek the most creatively life-giving! I could squeeze every nook and cranny of time so that I was giving my all for the glory of God! And then I got Mono (and God laughed as a father might at their infant trying to run across the room after just learning how to take her first step) - God’s always teaching me things at a slower pace then I’d like. 

I thought I was being creative by creating plans for productivity, but at the end of the day my inspiration was dry, my mind was fried, and my body was fatigued. All along, my poor little body, my poor little creative self. I wasn't giving it any voice. I was giving it a job. I wasn't listening to what it was asking of me. I was telling it what it should want and giving it that and only that. And its response? "I can't do this anymore Annie."
So Mono was my scape goat. No movement, no initiating plans to match ambition with action - just REST. This rest not just allowed me to heal from mono, but it invigorated my creative spirit. The time I spent on the couch simply being a human (in a decrepit state) reminded me of my overwhelming need for God every moment for every provision (of health, of energy, of life, of joy, of love). I realized that at the end of the day, I can try and control my health and my energy by allocating my plans and productivity, but without acknowledging God's role in sustaining my life for another day, I have worked myself out of the opportunity to truly live in the present: creating and reacting to how he is working inside of me.
It was such a challenge to honestly force myself to stay still, lay down, not jump to and fro. The depth of challenge made me realize just how intensely I had been externally moving, operating, and stressing myself out to the point of exhaustion and fatigue. The internal neglect of processing life transitions and work happenings had me starved for a fresh outpouring of rejuvenation. My weeks with Mono were some of the best weeks as I looked within myself to see how to make more margin for restful contemplation and how only a healthy understanding and practice of that would pave the way for intuitive movement.

To me, pre-mono, rest had been the scarce moments between my head dropping on the pillow and falling asleep at the day’s end. Now, rest looks like an unfamiliar friend reminding me that stewarding my body is both rest and work. I am a human, I need both and God has given me both. 

So the only way forward: leaving behind the ambitious plans I had for my body and coming home to how my present body is feeling and the needs it voices. People say listen to your body and learn its language, but my body doesn't operate as quickly and conveniently (input, enter, output) as Google translate. After going months without engaging in dialogue with your body, it takes time to relearn the words it voices to you and respond appropriately. Just like the bird's song - though I may not understand its meaning at first listen, once I begin the mindful practice of listening, I am simply amazed at its ability to vocalize its needs. I truly am fearfully and wonderfully made - my soul knows it very well (Psalm 139). The wonder and curiosity that sparked in my spirit as I began sensing this image-beardedness, reminds me that amidst the struggle for work-rest balance acknowledging my Creator for the creation he has made in me is very good, and honoring it with rest is the pathway to expressing praise to Him (dance being one of the ways I am excited to be in the process of practicing again!).

First off, what do you think about rest? What does rest look like for you? Do you still try and keep a sabbath, or do you find little "sabbath moments" throughout your week? How do you relate your practice of rest with your practice of movement?

Blessings to you as you pack up and prepare for the upcoming move!


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