Friday, August 24, 2007

It's not happening

"This morning I placed a large book on the floor, put my head on it, and my hands beside it on their palms, and proceeded to "pretend" to my body that I was just doing another head stand. The intense sounds of distress that erupted from me as I kicked up my legs attracted my husband's attention. I sounded like a whimpering puppy, but I achieved an inversion with my weight on my hands and head instead of on my forearms and head. I held the position until the fear dissipated, and then gently allowed myself to go back down into a huddled position of security with my knees on the ground.

It is my goal to do this action many times a day..."

I'm not achieving this goal this week. Sure, I managed to do the exercise on the first day, but as soon as the second day rolled around, I'd just have to walk near the usual place that I do this activity for terror to swirl around in the pits of my stomach, and suddenly washing dishes seemed like such an important thing to do. I'd convince myself that I have all day to face that inversion moment, so I should go and fold laundry right now. Then, when there was enough time to invert, and I had no excuses, I'd stand there, consider inverting, and just turn around and walk away. It was beyond my mental strength to force myself to do this activity. I'd argue with myself as I walked away saying "If it was a headstand, you'd be up there, and back down by now. What's your problem?"

My problem is memories. I have memories ingrained within me. Nasty horrible memories from when I was a child of being suspended upside down by my ankles over a lake with my fingertips touching the cold water, and knowing that I don't know how to swim, and hearing the taunting laughter, and begging to be allowed to go back safe to the shoreline where the water wasn't so deep, and feeling that sickening feeling of being tossed into deep water, and feeling the panic of bubbling water rushing around my whole body, and flailing my arms and legs in an attempt to get somewhere safe.. anywhere safe.. and then feeling the cold wet sand at my toes finally and knowing that if I'm lucky I can push myself with my legs closer to where I can stand up and breath.. Trying to run away from the danger in the water against it's resistance only to be captured again, and suspended again to the cruel torturing laughter. The moment happening over and over again until panic and fear became cemented in my being. Upside down on my hands means childhood horror that tastes as fresh as if it was happening again right at this moment.

I've studied about this phenomena in Psychology. Our minds make special chemicals that it attaches to memories of extreme moments to make them more permanent. I have to blame the Amygdala in my brain for this heightened memory. Those little bundles of neurons set deep within my brain helped create this hard wired memory to protect me from future moments of similar nature. Fear, pain, and negative emotions caused this memory to be created in my head, and it surges out each time that I invert on my hands. The panic is real. It's not just an echo of my former fear.. it IS my former fear.

Somehow, I have to convince my body, and mind that achieving a handstand is not the same action as being suspended over a lake by the ankles by someone 3 times older than you. I have managed to convince myself that a headstand is not the same.. now how do I go about it with a handstand?


Colin Wee said...

One way to deal with panic or fear is to desensitize yourself to it. Do it again and again. This may not be the best way, and not typically aligned with a good progressive training schedule.

Another way is to 'compartmentalize' your fear. Recognize it, understand it, then put it into a very small part of your mind. Then fill your mind with courage, determination, and tenacity.

Hope this helps you.


supergroup7 said...

I've been trying the "desensitize" thing, it seems to be increasing the fear rather than lowering it. Perhaps through repetitious exposure, there would be a threshold where the fear will peak, and then start to lower?

I'm intrigued by the "compartmentalize" thing that you have mentioned. Do I use visualization, and picture my fear like an object that I lock up in a box in my mind?? In other words, do I use imagery, and imagination to do this sort of action?

Colin Wee said...

Visualization isn't just a visual exercise. I'm sure it can work conceptually. But yes, I think you got the idea.