Thursday 18 January 2018

Ice Daggers as Anxiety Cure

Ice Daggers as Anxiety Cure
(or “shiver me timbers it’s fucking cold out!”)

By Casey Douglass

My heart was doing the thing it does when I start to get anxious and stressed. Often, I can sit with it and mindfully watch it settle again, but yesterday it felt like it was growing into something approaching a “state”. I found myself checking something inconsequential on my phone over and over and realised I needed to break that state. Lacking the patience to sit with it, I swiftly decided to go for a short walk in the biting wind. I pondered how well to wrap up against the elements but, maverick that I am, purposefully left my gloves off. I did this even hearing dad moaning about how cold it was when he came in earlier, rubbing his hands and eager to get them around a cup of coffee. I decided that I was going to focus on the cold in my hands as a pattern breaker. I know, hardcore doesn’t come close to describing me.

The wind hit me like a punch in the face, but the sunlight kissed it better again. Leaves flew as birds hunkered down in the bushes, an ironic exchanging of position. My hands felt the paradoxically hot-feeling bite of the cold, my fingers bending slightly as if trying to curl into the digit approximation of the foetal position. I’m not sure what my balls were doing, but I’d imagine if they had been exposed, I would have needed a search party to find them again once they’d retreated. While I didn’t solely focus on my hands, there were just some parts of my body that I overlooked. Maybe next time...

I paid mindful attention to the sensation of cold, the way it throbbed and ached in my hands, shivers racking my body, my teeth chattering and my torso tingling with pins and needles. I knew that it wouldn’t take long for the carbon dioxide of muscle use to build up and heat me from the inside, but my god it felt like ages. The sunlight was a milky yellow, the orb hanging low in the sky like a pervert trying to look up a short skirt. It was warming, but there were plenty of shadows to scupper its view. I found myself anticipating each strip of glowing luke-warmth as it splayed across my path. I tried to take a more accepting stance by paying attention to my attachment to the warmth, and my aversion to the cold bleak darkness of the shadows; it was as interesting as it was painful.

It wasn’t a long walk, but by the time I had heated up a little and arrived back home, that pattern or mode switch that I was half-hoping for seemed to have happened. I was dog tired though, which brings about other problems, a higher propensity for anxiety not the least of them. Much like my occasional walk, you nearly always come back to where you started when you try to get away from things, or even change them a little. That being said, I quite enjoyed having my mind on sensations that weren’t linked to stress and anxiety for awhile, and I even managed to turn it into something to write about on a day where I am struggling again. It seems to be the walk that just keeps on giving.

Thanks for reading.