Anti-Anxiety Tool of the Week: Whispered Ahhhhh
The basic ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh from the first toolkit is a long, relaxed, verbalized sigh. Very simple. According to neuroscientist Alex Korb, when your exhale is longer than your inhale it sends a message of safety to the brain. (Korb's book, The Upward Spiral: Using Neuroscience to Reverse the Course of Depression, One Small Change at a Time , is a great resource.)
You can also do a whispered ahhhhh, which could be anything from an airy exhale to an almost inaudible sigh. That way, you can ahhhhh while padding around the grocery store or walking on the street and people won't think you're weird! Or in bed so you won't wake up your partner. Or whenever you want to be a little quieter or a little more private.
This tool is from the second Toolkit. Here's the Index of all toolkits. And The Mini-Toolkit: For Those with Little or No Time.
In Falling and In Rising
Sometimes you see something so beautiful and unusual that it follows you around for days, rising again and again from the hidden stairways of your heart. That's what happened for me with the video below--a gorgeous piece in which movement artist Yoann Bourgeois partners with pianist Alexandre Tharaud's tender and evocative rendition of "Claire de lune" by Debussy.
Spoiler alert: I mention aspects of the performance in my discussion below, so you may want to experience the video yourself before you read my musings.
Climbing...and falling...and climbing...and falling. But oh! His falling is so beautiful. Mesmerizing.
And the music is exquisite.
Bourgeois so fully inhabits his falls, without a shadow of fear or hanging on, that he becomes the fall, and then seems to effortlessly shift the energy from falling to climbing again. And again and again. But really, it is all so beautifully fluid that in some ways there doesn't seem to be any shift in the energy. The word equanimity comes to mind. But really the word grace, in all its meanings, is more fitting.
I am reminded of something 14th century mystic Dame Julian of Norwich said: "In falling and in rising we are kept ever preciously in one love."
Bourgeois seems to experience gravity differently from the rest of us. Logically you know he is working hard to make his movements look so effortless, but he is so utterly surrendered to the entire process that you can't convince yourself he is doing any physical work at all.
His character never seems to get angry, though perhaps there is some frustration expressed here and there. At one point not too far from the end it even looks, to me, that rather than merely allowing, he even celebrates a fall: "Well, this is crazy but whoopee! Here we go again!"
Though some of the stumbling and falling is heartrending, and though he does not "prevail" in the end as we typically think of prevailing, the process is so totally surrendered and so lovely that beauty and grace are what I am left with, not his failings or fallings or stumblings.
If I can learn to be only a hundredth, even just a thousandth, as graceful and surrendered in my life as he is in this piece, it would be an amazing gift.
The flow of grace and ease and beauty in remind me of another Dame Julian saying:
"First the fall, and then the recovery from the fall, and both are the mercy of God.”
Until next time,
Postscript: If after seeing the video you wonder, as I did, whether Bourgeois and his team used some "trick photography" or special editing, take a look at this video of a live performance of a previous piece by Bourgeois, taken at the Pantheon in Paris in 2017.
Boat, Dominik (Reallife), unSplash
YouTube video of Alexandre Tharaud & Yoann Bourgeois, Warner Classics
Yoann Bourgeois, pont-des-arts.ville-cesson-sevigne.fr, photographer unknown
And thanks to Betsy Brown, MD, physician and pandemic blogger extraordinaire for the original introduction to this video. (Update from an Epidemic https://betsybrownmd.substack.com/ )