By Paul Cramer RMT
Hi everyone, I trust you are well and finding creative ways to deal with our new way of being. I’m sure if you’re like me, this is new and a lot of things are different. I’m home with my family, our kids aren’t going to school, I can’t just run out to the grocery store and pick up apples. It is all really quite different and truth be told a bit uncertain -we have no known path through this. And for me, that’s exciting. It’s like a wintery icy sidewalk that we have to walk across to get where we’re going. And if you live in Canada, you all know what I’m talking about.
I’d like to share with you an approach I have for running on ice and enjoying a bit of fun while doing it. I feel it’s applicable to our approach for going forward
We all have different ways of dealing with newness and with uncertainty –and to a certain degree they come down to two different approaches. First would be to trust ourselves, grounded and centred in our bodies -we are open to what these next few weeks will bring us. It may not be perfect, we may do some really crazy things to cope with our new reality but at the centre of it all is a trust that we are in this together and that we have the resources to learn and grow through it.
The second way would be to allow the stress of living in these times to overwhelm us. When we’re “over stressed” we tighten up in our bodies and minds and resist what is unfolding in the here and now. More often than not, we swirl in our thoughts and develop anxiety about future possibilities or wishful thinking about what we’d be doing if only this hadn’t happened.
Now back to the icy sidewalk and how this relates to meeting the coming weeks with our best self.
Like I said, I run on ice. Well I live in Edmonton Alberta and I love running and yes I run outside in the winter and no I don’t wear the spiky doodads that fit over my shoes. Because of where I live it is inevitable that I will have to run on ice a great deal of the time. So I’ve picked up a few good tips over the years that help me with this. And from these tips, I hope that it will give you some strategies for dealing with what’s happening right now.
- First and foremost -when I’m running in icy conditions I take the time to acknowledge that it’s icy out. I pay attention to what’s going on under my feet and heighten my awareness. I tune into my senses -aware of how my feet feel, the terrain I have to cross, if there are hills or slants in the sidewalk, is the ice really glisteny or is it bumpy and also is there are less slippery path that I can bail to if needed.
- I centre and calm myself. I begin by becoming aware of my breath. I take note of it and how my breathing is affecting my body and I allow my breath to become a little deeper and a bit more drawn out. I am truly in my body now. From here, I take a moment to feel more grounded -in a sense, I imagine my centre of gravity a bit lower and I feel connected with how my feet touch the ground. I have a sense of how my body feels ready, resilient and adaptable. At this point I acknowledge that I can’t push my way through this but will adapt moment by moment to what comes.
- I lean slightly forward and into where the ice is taking me. This comes a bit with time and learning to feel the terrain. I learned early on that when it comes to slippery surfaces leaning back and resisting meant that I usually ended up falling backwards and rolling on the sidewalk. It also helps that I spent many years teaching people how to ski. When going downhill it is essential to lean forward. When we lean a bit forward and in the direction we’re going, we have the capacity to dynamically adjust our body to adapt to the surface. So even if we do begin to “free slide” -while not exactly in control, we will maintain my balance and ride this out.
- Knowing how to bail -I have two or three tried and true methods for when things go wrong. My default is what I call curling stance -when my feet feel like they may go out from under me, I drop down to a lunging stance that looks like I’m curling (again, Canadian’s you know what I mean), second is the roll, if I’m going down, I try to roll to the side and keep myself as round as possible. Lastly, to relax as much as I’m able to and not be embarrassed as I lay on the sidewalk. I’ve had some funny conversations with people who have helped me up. I laugh and enjoy the fun of having slipped and fallen.
- I trust and allow myself the opportunity to decide if I’m in the mood for this today -you know, there are some days, when I’d just rather not and that’s ok.
- I practice with playfulness. I see this as a fun way to enjoy my winter running. It builds sensory awareness, body awareness, balance and agility.
There certainly are a number of parallels between walking or running on ice and our current situation. The uncertainty is here no matter what. We don’t have a straightforward way to the other side. But this is not the first time we’ve faced difficult decisions and times. You are stronger, more resilient and adaptable than you may feel right now. It is there and sometimes we need to lean on each other to help us find it.
Don’t pretend you’re not worried -allow yourself to feel what you’re feeling -that’s an important part of trusting yourself. Knowing that you’re actually allowing yourself to feel what you’re feeling.