I stopped going to my Spinning class well over a year ago, telling myself that it was stupid and boring. It’s true I can get bored in any exercise class, and Spinning is no exception. But as the days turned to weeks turned to months, I found myself flat out avoiding going back into that class. I couldn’t deny it – it was because of those old thoughts leading to anxiety and panic attacks.
There are so many things that have made Spinning class a challenge for me, with all my quirks. First, the way the studio is positioned- it is a separate room off the main gym- about as far away from the Exit as you can possibly get. I have had numerous scares and panic attacks during spin class, as well as all kinds of irrational thoughts, especially if someone I knew was there.
What made it worse is I started to really miss that class. Spinning is such a terrific work out. It does wonders for me and makes me feel great emotionally. So believing that I was not able to go because of stupid thoughts and anxiety was really dragging me down.
Two weeks ago on a Friday evening I gave myself a gift of feeling good and decided to go to the gym after work and dinner. I didn’t eat too much and it was not ready to just lay down in front of the television. So off to the gym I went.
As luck would have it, there was a Spinning class starting right as I went in. My first instinct was pure joy. Hurray! I thought to myself. I have been wanting so badly to go back to Spin for the longest time. I went right in and sat on my favorite bike, one seat away from the door.
It felt good to sit on that bike and once again be in the familiar dark room (they always have the lights off during the class, which is very nice!).
I didn’t know the teacher, nor did I know anyone in the class.
Class began and with it, so did my old, broken – record thoughts:
You are so far from the gym exit. What if you have to get up and leave in the middle of class? Everyone will look at you and you’ll lose your composure and then you’ll never be able to come back!!
Somehow I remembered what Byron Katie says, “When I believe my stressful thoughts, I suffer. But only every time. And this is true for every human being. Who would you be without your story?”
This insight was a touch of grace and because of it, I was able to not go with those first irrational thoughts and let them have their way with me. Somehow I stayed glued to my bike seat, both literally and also with my thinking. And those anxious thoughts transmuted into enthusiasm and happiness. All at once I was overcome with profound joy and gratitude.
Father thank you. Such a gift to be here. I love being here so much. I love everything about it. I am so grateful to be able to partake in this class and help myself. Thank you, thank you, thank you…
And then I took it one step further.
Filled with love I decided to do a Loving Kindness Meditation right in the midst of class.
This is where you think of a person and send them kind and loving thoughts. I have a simple version that I do and it goes like this:
I think of a person, and hold them in my mind’s eye. While picturing that person I slowly recite with all my being and feeling:
May you have peace,
May you have ease of well-being,
May you be free from suffering,
May you be happy,
One by one, I took each of the 12 people in that class and held them in my best thoughts. Then I did the same with the instructor, and also with myself. As I went through this prayer/ meditation, I felt so connected with everyone. Truly, what a gift to be in that room praying for everyone and wishing them every good thing.
Pretty soon the class was over. I left feeling refreshed and so incredibly happy and triumphant. I nearly floated out of that room! 🙂
Seems like such a small thing really to just be present in a situation and not let irrational thoughts take you over. But when those irrational thoughts lead to anxiety and panic, all bets are off- it can become an enormous task.
I have been back to the Spinning class 2 times since. It’s so nice to have met the irrational fear and thinking head on and exposed it for its unreality. I now have the freedom to go to the class as I please. Yay me! 🙂
My goal is to work on all the day to day things that can trigger irrational thinking in me. I am making good headway, and wanted to share this with you.
My sincerest hope is that you are finding your way out of your irrational thoughts too.
I wish you peace,