sleepy dog

What to Do When We don’t Know What to Do

Breathing & Movement Techniques For a Better Life

Someone once told me “when in doubt, don’t make any important decisions”. I didn’t understand it then, so I just said “well, I don’t agree. Most of the time, we need to make decisions: run, go, escape, jump, do something, no?”. Maybe.

Coronavirus took most of us by surprise; a silent, invisible force able and willing to wipe out entire cities forcing people to stay at home while experts could figure out what, when, or how to deal with it.

Last year, we decided to come to Colombia to visit my parents for “only a few days” and then go to Barcelona: After more than 10 years in the UK, we were ready to move somewhere warmer and less Brexitish. The plan looked great!

The time to come back to Europe was quickly approaching when the first news about a global pandemic was confirmed. Many advised us to run back home in London while we still could. Instead, I felt the strong need NOT to move: “when in doubt, do not make any important decisions”, right?… and doubts were all I had!

Although, refusing to come back immediately to a “safer country” didn’t seem like a good thing to do I had this strong belief that the answers of my doubts were not outside, but right here where I was. Without realising I had changed the old advice into “When in doubt, Make a Pause until You Feel the Answer”. So, we paused and stayed. It has been almost 2 months.

It hasn’t always been easy, I bet for anyone. The aspects I felt the most were a constant anxiety about health and future jobs and nostalgia for everything I was missing from London: Past and future, I was not HERE. I had the opportunity to be in a newish, warmer, amazing place just as I had been dreaming for months, yet my body and mind were in a Frozen mode, a state between Fight or Flight responses.

So, What can we do when we don’t know what to do? Nothing. What can we do when we don’t know what to do and that not knowing freezes us? Half nothing! I was half-sleeping, half watching movies, half (or double) eating, etc. The only thing I could do was to acknowledge this was happening and tell myself “it is completely OK. Not a biggy. I am here, listening. Just let me know what you wish to do, si?”

One morning while listening, I discovered in myself this sequence of very gentle movements. Even though “I had not done much” I felt so happy afterwards. I fast recorded what I remembered and put it here as an example of a sequence for “whatever we feel like doing is perfect”. Although there are no rules to create your own sequence, sometimes I find it useful to:

  • have some kind of order: “I will allow my body to move as it wishes from Head to Toes”. In that way, the inspiration has a path in case I really cannot listen yet.
  • touch your skin, bones, ribs, as gentle or hard as you need to feel the touch. This acts as a “knock-knock” to your body’s door to open up
  • don’t hold the breath: breathe as you feel but keep an eye in case you are holding it in your chest, this gives a false S.O.S signal to your brain which won’t allow us to relax
  • yawn as often and as long as possible, fake it until is real. It has been proved to be connected to the vagus nerve and its parasympathetic fibres to help us truly and deeply relax
  • come back to the sensations of the body: when I notice my mind is wandering far away from the present time I kindly nod, smile and come back to feel my connection with the ground, the feet pushing down or the rhythm of the breath…Sometimes I have to “come back” several times, but that is Fine!

I hope you can use this as inspiration to create your own. I am going to name this one: Shut Up and Listen!

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