I decided to start taking drumming lessons last week, and noticed something interesting. My teacher suggested that I try keeping the beat with the heel of my left foot on the floor while playing. I noticed immediately that this was difficult, not just because of the coordination involved, but because my left leg tended to tremble each time I hit it on the ground.
I remember as a kid that my legs felt restless a lot, and I can often remember my mother telling me to “stop jiggling!” while I was sitting near. I just always wanted to get up and move somehow. But, like my emotions, I learned to suppress this physical movement to keep her happy too.
I was just having a look at the Wikipedia entry for Restless Leg Syndrome, and there are several things that I can relate to. One of them is that my feelings of anxiety and restlessness get stronger when I stop moving physically. It’s like my body simply wants to be moving more; which is consistent with the idea that boredom is a big part of what is going on for me. But not just mental boredom, I’m talking physical boredom.
The Wikipedia entry treats Restless Leg Syndrome has an illness to be treated or cured, rather than as an indication that our body actually wants to be doing more activity. It seems as though our bodies have a mind of their own. Now that’s not all that’s surprising, if you’ve ever seen a very young child jump up spontaneously and want to dance, even though they’ve never been taught to dance. It’s just something innate that we seem to want to do; at least until a bunch of adults come along and tell us that it’s not okay.
This morning I started doing the stick exercises on my snare that my drum teacher taught me last week, and began trying to keep the beat with my left heel on the ground. Immediately I found my leg trembling again, and not necessarily at the same pace as the beat that I was trying to keep. So I decided to just let it go; let my leg relax and tremble at whatever speed it wanted. After a while, I found out my other leg wanted to tremble as well; so I just let them both go for it while as I played on the snare.
I have tried the trauma release exercises that David Bercelli recommends in the past, but never found that I was really able to get my legs to tremble in the manner that he describes. However, when I’m sitting at my drum kit pounding my heel into the floor, I can’t help but notice my legs tremble. I’ve always felt that CFS was related to repressed trauma, but now I can see that it’s not just emotional or mental or psychological trauma, it’s a physical thing too.
Now, when my body trembles, I no longer take my mother’s advice of suppressing it; I just let it go. Whether I’m trembling in response to anxiety or excitement about my immediate circumstances, or something else doesn’t really matter. I think the important thing is to stop suppressing on all levels, and learn to just let go.