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Swimming in the Pacific
The Pacific Ocean is something that has risen to the status of passion for me. This interest started about four years ago. It emerged after a considerable effort toward getting back to a regular work out routine “post-baby". She might have been 6 by then, but who's counting? Reconnecting to the long-ago athlete I knew lived somewhere deep inside me was quite a process. I’ve never written about being an active, athletic person here and I fear doing so may give you the impression that I am trying to be your personal trainer, which I’m not.
What I am is a counselor/therapist, and soon to be certified Person-Centered Expressive Arts Facilitator. I believe in the mind/body connection and all of the ideas I share here on this blog try to support this personal truth. If we tap into our minds and our bodies we will heal what has troubled us and we work toward a deeper understanding of ourselves. I have just completed my fourth week of intensive training toward a certificate in Person-Centered Expressive Arts and I feel more empowered than ever to share this little part of how I stay motivated in life.
A few weeks before I headed back to this fourth expressive arts training I swam through the San Francisco Bay. Under the Golden Gate Bridge to be exact. I’ve come to realize that finding a passion in “mid-life” is vital to mental health and well being. If you have been in the self-help/psychology world you may be acquainted with Erik Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development. Those of us who find ourselves on the other side of forty are in the midst of Erikson’s 7th stage: generativity versus stagnation. Let's not stagnate! I love this stage so deeply because it's very existential. One of my many orientations in working with clients is humanistic existentialism.
I find my passion for life in many places, one of them is through weekly exercise. I am sure many of you can connect? I would love to hear your story too! I wonder if you too need a goal, an event to keep you motivated? Or maybe it's just an "accountability partner"? I have clients who make working out a regular part of life by involving another friend or even their kids. I imagine for you, like me at times it's not been an easy road to get the passion for life (including exercise) going. Whether it be with exercise or other types of enlivenment. It can feel like an uphill battle. Research tells us that exercise is intrinsically related to mental health (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1424736/pdf/pubhealthrep00100-0085.pdf). If we know this is true, then why do so many of us have a hard time sticking to an exercise regimen? For me personally, it comes back to passion. I have a passion for water, a passion for being active and a renewed passion for art!
I was immersed in water from six weeks of age on. Water is a part of who I am. When surrounded by water, I felt at home. Whether it’s chlorine in a pool or salt in the ocean, the water calms me. You can let so much go when you are at the beach! Even dipping your toes in our cold Pacific ocean might be healing for you? The warm air and the cool water of the Pacific frees me of my worries. The cold Pacific, particularly this last jaunt under the Golden Gate bridge was a huge adventure. I felt twinges of anxiety. I met new people. I had to ask for support, someone to have that towel ready! I trained alone because I have not found too many people who want to join me, weird!? Though I reach out to many of those who work out on a regular basis and I find support there.
I am not at all suggesting you need to swim under the Golden Gate bridge but what is your next adventure? What is your next physical health goal? How about your mental health goals? Create your own study and see, how you feel now, how will you feel after four weeks of moderate exercise four to five times per week?
It does not take as much time or effort as you think if you have some background in committed exercise/activity. Hey, parking at the back of the grocery store parking lot counts! Even if you have no history of working out call me for an appointment and we can talk about your goals around fitness and mental health.
Here are some blogs and podcasts that have inspired me back into physical activity: zenhabits.com with Leo Babauta and the Rich Roll podcast (www.richroll.com). Lastly, this amazing story is about Kim Chambers, @kimswims on Instagram and https://www.kimswims.com
Copyright © 2018 Bridget Bertrand