Mind & Body

January 2021

Starting Over, Over & Over Again

Angie Never

I am quickly sliding into the dawn of the new year, an optimistic time of buying new planners, daydreaming about what’s to come, and committing to leave the nonsense of the past year behind me.  Some people hate this type of energy, but I’m a giant fan. There’s nothing I love like a clean sheet of paper, a flipped calendar page, a chance to get it right this time.

Approaching 2021 is uniquely difficult, because there’s so much I really, really want to be done with. I want to welcome people into my studio again, I want my finances to stabilize, I want to experience the arts in my community in person, breathing with other people again. I’m hopeful about vaccine development but also facing the reality that turning the pandemic around in America isn’t happening on the calendar’s timeline. As much as I would like to abandon this way of life as soon as the clock strikes midnight on December 31, I know I’m being called to act with patience, to hold out just a little longer, and to bring some of this old news into my new beginning.

And this is the truth of time anyway, right? The coach doesn’t turn back into a pumpkin at midnight.

So how do we start over, when we can’t really start over?  I want to share a practice that’s been a lifesaver to me over the last month, in the hopes that it’s helpful to you as well.  For the sake of giving a simple practice a fancy title, let’s call this The Ten Minutes of Nothing.

Part of my experience of the past eight months has been dealing with COVID-19 long haul symptoms. A fairly mild experience with the virus in April left me with headaches, a pounding and spiking heartbeat, shortness of breath, dizziness, and an unbelievable fatigue. I’m an active person, a dance and yoga teacher by trade, I love a long city walk and using a bicycle for transportation, and for almost a decade I went to the gym 3 – 4  times every week, right up until they all closed down. So when these frustrating symptoms showed up, I fought them in the way I best understood – by pushing – by trying to do a little more.

I used what had always worked in the past, the challenge of breaking through to the next level. And it failed. The harder I worked, the more symptoms I had.  For someone wired to overcome, this has been a really hard lesson to internalize.  And to be honest, I haven’t done a great job of it. It’s hard to let go of your habitual responses, no matter how useless they’ve become.

It wasn’t until I found an article comparing long haul COVID-19 with chronic fatigue syndrome that I ran across The Ten Minutes of Nothing. A person interviewed in the article said that sometimes they just have to lie down for ten minutes and do nothing. No reading, no checking email, no listening to music, just nothing. I’m a person with a busy mind, so even when I’m resting I’m usually doing something. I sometimes forget that the brain is part of the physical body, and that it might need a rest and reset as well. This was something I hadn’t tried, so okay. And it worked.

There’s no fancy technique here. Go lay down. Set a timer if you like, if you’re under a time constraint of some kind. Set your phone aside, turn off the lights, lay down, and do nothing. In the middle of the day, whenever.

Now, when I begin to feel overwhelmed, when the headache starts to creep in, I do Ten Minutes of Nothing. (As an active person, it’s ridiculous how much more comfortable I am saying I’m doing something instead of saying I’m doing nothing.)  It’s not a cure, but it turns the volume down.  And more importantly, it gives me a chance to start over again.

Ten Minutes of Nothing has become a reset button, a pathway for me to leave behind the old junk and step into what’s really healthy, what really serves me. It’s like cleaning the windshield of your car so you can really see what’s in front of you instead of responding to insignificant smudges and dead bugs. Doing nothing has become the great prioritizer, reminding me to reserve my energy for the important things I really want rather than letting myself buzz around in circles all day.

I want you to know that you don’t have to wait until January 1, 2021 to start over. You don’t get one big chance and then have to live in the muck until the wheel turns over again. Close your eyes, let everything go, take a little mini-vacation in the darkness. Take as long as you need, as long as you have. And then get up fresh, and start again, clean.
Yoga with Angie Never: Softness Meditation

Angie Never is a local instructor and performer who is currently teaching classes in Yoga, Breathwork, and Bellydance. She has found strength, balance, and self-care in her many years of teaching and performing. Angie is passionate about helping others practice self-care and discovering how amazing they are.
During the pandemic, her classes are being offered via Zoom. You can find her class offerings on her website https://www.angienever.com/.
 

November 2020

The Connection Between Physical & Mental Health

Mat Hargett

Someone asked me “What’s the connection between our mind and our body?” Look no further than your primary care physician’s checklist that you have likely completed. No longer does it ask for your (and your family’s) physical health/illness history, but also your emotional and mental health history as well.

The reason: they are interconnected. There is a “strong, positive correlation between increase in physical activity and increase in mental wellbeing.”1

The World Health Organization (WHO) goes further and defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”2

So in this edition, we will put it all together: Mind, Body, and Social/Relationship Health through a personal example.

I hated running — HATED IT. And I played college basketball. But after marrying a runner, I acquiesced. I ran no more than 3 miles for decades. An occasional 4-mile road race was my marathon.

Then after depression and anxiety set-in, I realized that running harder and longer distances helped me feel better:

  • Just getting out of bed & outside
  • The positive, endorphin rush that comes with an intense workout
  • My mind was somehow calmer
  • The simple sense of accomplishment helped fuel positive thoughts about myself

Though even with these short-term benefits, it can be difficult to self-motivate and maintain a consistent schedule by yourself over a long period of time. I recommend connecting with a partner for at least one of your weekly workout routines.

Personally, I stumbled across a running partner about 8 months ago. Eventually, two more runners joined us. Not only do we motivate each other, but have formed connections and friendships that I otherwise would not have had.

Fast forward to today, by the time you read this article, I will have run a 28-mile race. That’s right, 1.8 miles longer than a marathon. That never would have occurred without connecting with my running partner. I am now in the best physical, emotional, and social “shape” of my life.

Regardless of what you do for your physical health, connect with someone — meet at Deer Haven Park. Your mind and body will thank you.

Two running friends with supporters after they ran 28 miles
two friends standing by a lake after a 28 mile run

Mat and his running partner with supporters and friends after their 28-mile race

1 Harris, Marc Ashley (2018 Jan 16). The relationship between physical inactivity and mental wellbeing: Findings from a gamification-based community-wide physical activity intervention.

2 World Health Organization (WHO) (2020). Constitution of WHO: Principles. Accessed Oct 26. 2020.

October 2020

RUACH: The Power of the Breath, The Foundation of Rest

Patch Wetzel

“Ruach” (homophone: ROCK), Hebrew for “breath” or “spirit,” also used interchangeably as “wind.”

From the Tanakh, or Hebrew Bible in Masoretic Text, all living humans have breath, an autonomic response of the body to sustain life.

Tired? Stressed? Exhausted? Look no further than your breath! By manipulating and controlling the flow of oxygen in your body, your mental, physical, and even spiritual health can be improved. Slowing down and pacing your breath and adding movement to your daily routine can have countless health and mental wellness benefits. Exhaustion can come in many forms. Our bodies may be physically exhausted, yet we sometimes cannot shut down our minds to get any restful sleep.

In our practice of recognizing the power of the breath, we surmise that when we take conscious notice of our breath to manipulate it, much can be achieved for meditation and restoration for mindfulness, focus, balance, and mental wellness. We partner our breath and pay attention to our heart rate during rest and light activity, add motion and/or movement, and move towards overall mental, emotional, physical, and even spiritual health.

Patch Wetzel is the creator of the Ruach: Power of the Breath™ practice, using yoga basics, partnered and juxtaposed to Scripture, to develop (mental, physical and emotional) strength, focus, balance and discipline to promote self-care and restoration. She has a yoga certification through YogaFit International, holds a PhD in Humane Letters from CICA International University and Seminary, and is a registered chaplain.

To find out more, please check patchwetzel.com, or email her at patch@patchwetzel.com