Take a few minutes and sense into where you encounter forward-moving life energy. For me, sound has been my guide. As a new wave of the international pandemic lays bare how present death is among us, we need to find ways to connect actively to what sparks life in us. Recently, I’ve found that sound helps me find a way to connect to myself and others. This supports the life in me.
The Impact of the Pandemic on our Bodies
The current situation has subtly impacted my nervous system. I don’t feel any different from moment to moment, but I am experiencing panic attacks again, which had disappeared from my life after years of focusing. Just buying groceries, sitting on a bench with a friend, or throwing out the trash includes masking up and putting on gloves—all reminders of the chaos surrounding us.
For example, the other day, I felt my body switch into panic mode in the middle of my virtual Italian class. There was a felt sense, a click in the middle of my chest. After that, I started having thoughts about possible problems with our gas stove.
I acknowledged the felt sense and new thoughts. I also recognized that these were irrational thoughts because I knew no one had used the stove the entire day, and there was no smell to sustain such this concern. I acknowledged that something in me was frightened, yet I did not know what or why.
I recognized “not knowing” the source of the panic and held space for this distress. That allowed me to notice the sound of my classmates’ voices again. We are all very dedicated to learning Italian, and to be a part of this group is very important to me. When the class ended, I held space for this anxiety in a fuller way. What came for me was that the panic is my body’s way of letting me know that it is on overload. It needs more support. How do we support both– the need to move forward and the horror of the pandemic?
Even though the numbers in New York City are relatively low compared to the rest of the United States, they are still rising. New Yorkers have lived through the worst experience of the first wave and we know where it can go and how fast it can get there.
Recognizing the Sparks of Life
A few days later, I started to prepare to do some errands. I put on a mask, my defogged glasses with a guard strap on the back that keeps them from falling off. Then came my coat and purse and finally my face shield and gloves.
As I began walking to my favorite organic grocery store about a mile away, I noticed that my body was on high alert. First, there was a physical sensation– walking was too difficult. I felt overwhelmed by the mask and the shield. Was I breathing okay? Then came the thoughts about not being able to do the errands I set out to do. “How could I keep going forward while I am feeling like this?”
I kept on walking and hoping the sensation would subside. As I neared Thompkins Square Park, the first thing that woke me out of my thoughts was the sound of a car alarm. NYC banned them a long time ago, so it was a bit surprising to hear. Something, however, was comforting about the jarring sound. Maybe it matched my felt sense energetically. Paying attention to that sound shifted something in me. It broke the spell of my thoughts.
I began to hear someone playing the trumpet. The dogs in the large dog run were barking along with the music. As I paused to listen actively, I heard so much more. Then an idea came that I should record what I heard because it was so full of life. In the middle of the pandemic, my neighbors found ways to connect and interact in safe and life-sustaining ways. The trumpeter was playing a cheerful tune; the dogs wanted you to know they were there. There were three competing bands, sometimes playing over each other, and occasionally stopping to listen to the other bands. The sounds were loud and were full of life. Each experience could grab you and take you along their journey.
The car alarm helped me ground. The walk through the park, and more specifically, the sounds of life, pulled me into presence. As I exited the park, I noticed how my thoughts had changed. I was able to get through my errands for the day, and I returned home to share the experience with my husband.
I invite you to take a few minutes to listen to the sounds of life that my neighbors shared with me last Saturday that helped me connect to the forward-moving life in me. If you click on Thompkins Square Park you can see some photos of this very special place.