Locked in or Opened up? Stasis and Movement in Lockdown

I have always embraced the playfulness of movement. As waves break onto the sand, I am propelled to hop and skip around the arcs of foamy water, and in doing so I feel alive.

Maxine Sheets-Johnstone, a scholar and author, suggests that there is a similar potential for playful movement at home, in everyday activities. Sociologist and researcher Brené Brown, encourages us to dance spontaneously while listening to music or loading the dishwasher. Dance is one of Brown’s means of cultivating courage, compassion and connection towards “wholehearted living”. 

Anna Halprin, postmodern dance pioneer, gives us permission to step away from classical dance steps to create our own choreography. Halprin describes this art form as healing: “… a way to release all the tensions that have accumulated in my body … to be able to relate to myself, to others, in a new way that had been unavailable to me because I’d been blocked … to release those blocks opens up so many new possibilities.” 

I use these lockdown days to practice Qigong, a synthesis of movement and breath. I love the simplicity of Qigong. I kick off my shoes, find a place to be alone, open the windows and breathe. I stop, waiting for the inbreath, I notice the movement in my body as it fills with air. I experience a feeling of contentment inside me…it’s my time to do Qigong. I smile, and in a long outbreath, I feel a pleasurable release behind my eyes.

These sensations have become familiar through practice. I like the thought that the energy is all around me, above me, below me, behind me…it’s funny and playful and I reach out for it and lean into it. I find I am no longer thinking of anything else in my life, I am immersed in my Qigong time, swinging into the dynamic movements, sometimes yawning, wide. Through the practice, I feel alive, strong, and joyful. 

This lived experience of aliveness, strength, and joy offers an energetic and visceral response that contradicts the inert thoughts I have at times, of feeling lost, tired, and sad. These thoughts are embedded in the cognitive and emotional responses that are triggered in me in response to the challenges of the pandemic in my life. 

Invite yourself to explore movement, with whatever takes your fancy, it will remind your body what it feels like when you have energy; and it will develop your mind-body connection to inform self-care. 

It is through movement that we notice our balance, our breathing, an ache, an itch, a tightness, an increase in heart rate, or the surprising gut reaction of a feeling of dread. 

Perhaps you have been challenged during the pandemic. When challenged, we may become tense.

Noticing subtle sensations is an act of care towards our self. Listening to our body’s feedback, we can explore in a deeply reflective way the root causes and behaviours that may be limiting our life. We have the opportunity to develop new patterns of breathing, become mindful of the tension we hold in our face and body and actively release this to economise on spent energy. 

Supporting our self to feel calm, we can more easily find focus and contentment, relax into our chair, and enjoy restorative sleep. In this state, we may be better able to consider the next steps in our life.

A secondary benefit is that a sense of calm is contagious, therefore the people around us sense this too. They may consciously or subconsciously notice the ease embodied in our posture, the relaxed tone of our voice, the softness of our eyes and expression, or the focus we bring to listening.

So, in lockdown, if we can remain open to ourselves and others whilst actively working towards releasing tension and being calm, this will support our own well-being and support our interpersonal relationships, within the home, office, and community.

In this way, we may be able to collaborate skilfully with the inevitability of lockdown, and any other inevitability we may face in the future.

Building resilience and identifying positive psychology interventions targeted at increasing resilience are just some of the topics covered in our ICF-accredited Positive Psychology Coaching for Enhancing Resilience course – learn more by applying to the course today.