Keep Moving, Keep Singing

Sometimes music puts me in a semi trance state. This only works if I’m moving; stillness fucks it up.

Yesterday I tried to enter a stillness+music trance. It worked, for a second. And then my stomach muscles convulsed; I twitched, jerked forward like someone had hit me.

This happens when I sit still for too long.

I’m a leg-jiggler, a fidgeter, a mover. I can’t stop. Moving keeps the itching, the crawling at bay. In retrospect I realize that all the times I thought I was sitting still I couldn’t have been; I must have been moving in some small way so I wouldn’t jerk or spasm. It’s recently, when I’ve been hyper-vigilant to my stillness, when I’ve tried to force my body to become a statue, that the spasms have been more noticeable.

I don’t have an official diagnosis for this, but I’ve done my research. It’s likely Willis-Ekbom Disease, more commonly known as Restless Leg Syndrome.

I have always been a leg-jiggler. In a way it’s calming to me, which is why it drives me nuts when my mother puts her hand on my leg to get me to stop. Once I showed her the spasms that happen if I’m not fidgeting she stopped. Thank the gods.

Why am I saying all this? Why should you care about my possible-but-not-yet-diagnosed Willis-Ekbom Disease?

Because I want to let you know that if sitting in stillness doesn’t work for you, you’re not alone.

There is a huge, master-level narrative in neoPaganism about sitting still being necessary for meditation, or trance work, or any of those things so many of us want to do. “Learn to meditate,” the 101 books state, giving you the same way every time: sit comfortably and quiet your body and mind.

I’ve never been able to quiet my mind and my body, less so. Meditation gets a rude awakening when you spasm so hard it’s like you’ve been punched.

And quieting my mind? Sitting in silence soon drives me mad. The tinnitus sees to that. The constant ringing in my ears that, if it’s all I can concentrate on, soon becomes like someone screaming in my head. Noise is my friend, my comforter; noise keeps the screaming at bay.

This is even true when I sleep, when I like most noises to be quiet so I can rest. My brain concentrates on the little bits of white noise in and around my house: the fan, the trains that go by, the chirps of insects outside our window, my fiance’s snoring, my breathing, the beating of my heart….

Anything to avoid the screaming.

Avoid the screaming, avoid the spasming. Keep moving, keep listening. Keep busy, keep the stillness at bay. It’s only when I’m still that it hurts.

Leave the narrative that stillness is necessary for meaningful religious, spiritual, or magical practice. It’s not. Leave the narrative that says you’re broken if you can’t do stillness and quiet. None of us are broken.

We just need something a little different from the spirit within.

We need it to move us, to sing to us.

Break through the stillness. Speak through the quiet. Find the beat that resonates.

Stick to your own truth, and screw what the master narrative says.

Master narratives are usually dead wrong, anyway.

2 replies on “Keep Moving, Keep Singing”

  1. I have faced a similar situation every time I try to meditate. I can achieve stillness if I’m focused on something and I feel I’m allowed to move occasionally, such as during a church service when I went to church, or while watching a film. I’m not fidgety, but I do get those stomach muscle spasms. The worst part now is that I have a lot of stiffness and some pain if I am still for too long. But I’ve really come to feel that in order to watch my mind work, as one is supposed to do in meditation, I have to let it come out my fingers in writing. (I’m here from Tumblr, btw.)

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