I’ve been taking a lot of personality tests lately.
My own personality is feeling unstuck at the moment. I am feeling unstuck. It’s as if I don’t have a handle on who I am right now and so I need some online quiz to tell me. (And, of course, the more of these stupid tests I take, the less sure I start to become in all of my answers and so instead of answering honestly and accurately, I begin to guess wildly and then get results that don’t sound like me at all.)
Or, as the poet Frank O’Hara once wrote, Now I am quietly waiting for the catastrophe of my personality to seem beautiful again, and interesting, and modern.
Long time readers know this is a sign of the times, an annual occurrence when my autumnal ennui sets in. I already walk around under a daily melancholy, but in fall it digs in deeper, carving grooves into my brain. A malaise envelops me like a fog.
For years I used to hide from it, convinced with enough will power I could outrun the depression. I spoke of it in careful tones, tip-toeing around the reality of my mental health. I wouldn’t even use that word, depression. The haze is so persistent, my depression so functional, that it’s just become part of who I am. I don’t know any different. This is my normal and it took me a long time to realize that no, not everyone feels this way all the time.
When I restarted therapy, my therapist suggested meditation. I told her that I have tried meditating. Many, many times. I’ve done apps and group meditation and mantra meditation and guided meditation and none of it works. My mind and body can’t stay still and silent long enough. Thanks to anxiety, my brain buzzes like a beehive or a child who has had too much sugar.
I struggle with mindfulness. The saying goes if you are depressed you are living in the past, if you are anxious you are living in the future. As someone who balances on the precipice of both, I don’t known how to be present.
A few weeks ago I talked about how I wanted to get back to a regular yoga practice. One of the reasons is because yoga is the only time I’ve ever been able to get my anxious brain to shut up for a brief period of time, be it a thirty minute lunch express class or a 90 minute full Ashtanga practice.
After writing that post, I went looking for local studios and was reminded of one just down the street from us. On a whim, I went ahead and bought the new student package offering 40 days of unlimited classes for $40. This past Friday morning, I woke up at 5:45 am and headed over to the 6 am Rise ‘n’ Shine class.
For 45 minutes, the bees in my brain stopped buzzing. The child high on sugar stopped swirling and twirling. For 45 minutes, I found silence. For 45 minutes, I was present in the here and now.
(Of course, when finally confronted with the here-and-now which is currently a dumpster fire, I may have started crying in Child’s Pose but I gave myself permission for those five breaths then let the thoughts pass and continued with my practice.)
Yoga is often called a form of moving meditation. It’s a way to calm the mind and create awareness, but through movement. So I can and do meditate, just not the way most people think of it. And right now, I need it more than ever.
And while I may be feeling unstuck, make no mistake that I am an INTJ to my core.