The Joys of Swinging on a Swing

The Joys of Swinging on a Swing

The science of why swinging on a swing brings us pleasure is related to our sensory processing and our vestibular system that has to do with balance and movement and is centered in the inner ear. This sense allows us to maintain our balance and to experience gravitational security. When developed we’re confident in our ability to maintain a position without falling.  The vestibular system allows us to move smoothly. It also works right alongside all of our other sensory systems, helping us use our eyes effectively and process sounds in our environment.

As infants, our parents may have put us in a baby swing. The motion lulled the infant to sleep. Toddlers like swinging, and it helps them develop motor skills and eye-hand coordination. As they grow and their confidence grows, they discover swinging on their bellies or sitting on the swing and twisting it around to let twirl in the opposite direction.

All those simple childhood activities played a part in developing confidence. Participating in a variety of activities helped us to become more confident.  We learned how to control movements.  We graduated to climbing, somersaulting, and jumping.  We developed the confidence to start and stop movement calmly and with control.  Some of us became comfortable with climbing, swinging, somersaulting, and jumping,  knowing that our body would adapt and that we could maintain our balance and keep us from falling or getting hurt.

As teens, we may remember the local swimming hole where you swung from a tire swing in a tree and jumped off into the water. Sitting on a porch swing with a girl/boyfriend.  The tire swing under a tree. Favorite summertime activity is swinging on a hammock.

Benefits of swinging on a swing.

  • It’s a good exercise. For every hour you swing, you burn 200 calories.
  • You feel like a kid again.
  • You can get fit and spend time outdoors
  • Swinging good for your physical health. It can condition the joints, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. The activity is good for pelvic muscles and helps with balance
  • Swinging can benefit your mental health. You tend to feel good, thrilled and happy after swinging for a while in the fresh air.
  • Studies suggest that swinging can even benefit children suffering from autism.
  • It is a home remedy to reduce muscle soreness after exercise
  • The best thing about swinging is. it doesn’t look like a workout. It looks more like a recreational activity. Twenty minutes of swinging works like a reasonable workout.
  • There are variations in swinging–standing position and sitting position etc. keep your legs straight or try any other variation that engages your whole body.

Cautions if you are going to swing:

Make sure that you hold the chains firmly while swinging.

Test the swing before you use it as any damage in the chains can be hazardous while swinging.

I like swinging because it invokes memories, pleasant memories.  Yes as a child it was all play and fun:  My first kiss from a boy was while sitting on a swing.  Sitting on the swing at my grandmother’s curling up with a good book. Lazy summer afternoons sitting in a swing listening to a baseball game.

After I married and had children, I remember sitting on a swing holding one of the boys and swinging.

Now I have grandchildren, and I still enjoy swinging more than ever. I’m making more memories with them.

I bought my son a swing from the Hammock store in Duck, North Carolina.  We made a deal. I would purchase it, but he would install it at his house so that when I babysit the kids, I get to use it.

We swing from spring to late fall.  We grab a blanket and the three of us cram onto the swing and swing.  I’m asked to tell a story–my granddaughter loves stories with witches.  Oh, the stories are not from a book, I have to make them up with my “mouth.”  (I think she means from my mind).  When either one of them is upset about something they come to me, and we sit in the swing.  My granddaughter will calm down immediately as we swing and I sing Somewhere Over The Rainbow.

Something so simple as a swing is a treasure trove of beautiful memories.  What memories does swinging invoke in you?

Happy swinging!

The Feeling of Not Enough

I want to share this article with my readers. I have struggled with that feeling of not enough or not good enough. I wish I had written this article, but I do want to give credit where credit is due.  Please read and share your thoughts.

The Feeling of Not Enough
by
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Hilary Jacobs Hendel

Mike believed he had a good life and felt lucky for all the things he had. He was married to a loving wife, had a good job, owned a beautiful house, and had 3 healthy kids.

Despite all his good fortune, Mike could not shake the nagging feeling that he wasn’t enough. “I should be more successful. I should make more money. I should be where my boss is. I should have a graduate degree. I should have a bigger house. I should have more friends.” These were some of the “shoulds” that plagued him on a daily basis.

“Could I get you curious about this part of you that feels inadequate?” I asked Mike at our initial meeting. After he had consented, I suggested, “Let yourself travel back in time…back and … back and … back. How old were you when you first felt not enough?” I asked him.

He paused to reflect, “It’s definitely been with me a long time,” He said. “Maybe 6 or 8 years old? Around there.”

Mike’s father became extremely successful when Mike was 6 years old. Because of his father’s new job, his family moved to an exotic country where they didn’t speak English. Mike was scared and felt like a stranger. Even though he attended an international school, he had no friends for a long time. His parents pushed him hard. They meant well and were trying to encourage him. But feeling scared and overwhelmed by the many changes in his life, he misinterpreted their words as disappointment that he wasn’t enough–it was the familiar feeling he still had today.

We are not born feeling inadequate. Life experiences and emotions create that sense within us in a variety of creative ways. For example, when we were little, and we felt afraid or anxious, our mind told us something was wrong with us, not with our environment. That’s why children who were abused or neglected grow up to be adults who carry so much shame. A child’s mind, not yet rational, concludes, “There must be something wrong with me if I feel so bad” or “I must be bad if I’m being treated badly.”

As adults, armed with education on emotions and how childhood adversity affects the brain, we can understand that feeling not enough is a byproduct of an environment that was insufficient. We are in fact enough! Yet to feel more solid in our Self, we must work to transform the not enough feeling.

One way to transform old beliefs is to work with them as separate child parts. With some mental energy, we can externalize ailing parts of us and then relate to them in healing ways.

For example, I asked Mike, “Can you imagine that your 6-year old self, who feels not enough, is sitting on my sofa over there so we can be with him and try to help?

I paused while Mike exerted the mental energy it took to visualize his child part with some distance, “What does that 6-year-old part of you look like? What do you see him wearing? Where do you see him? Is he in a specific memory?” I asked.

With practice, Mike learned to connect and communicate to that part of himself. Mike learned to listen to that little boy inside. Offering it compassion helped him feel much better, even though he had struggled with the concept initially.

I also suggested to Mike that feeling, not enough might be a defense against his deeper emotions towards others who had hurt him or not been there for him when he needed support. Thinking about The Change Triangle, we slowed down to notice his feelings towards himself and his parents. Without judging his core emotions as right or wrong, he accepted that he was angry at his father for uprooting him, a move that had cost him his confidence.

Since emotions are physical sensations, another way to work with wounded parts is through the body. Mike learned to recognize how not enough felt physically. “It is like an emptiness—like a hole inside. I know I have been successful at times and I believe my family loves me. Emotionally, it doesn’t feel that way at all. Good stuff comes in but it goes right through me like a bucket with a hole. I’m never filled.”

To help patch the hole in his bucket, I also helped Mike develop his capacity to hold onto good feelings by noticing them. “If you validate your accomplishments what does that feel like inside?”

“I feel taller,” said Mike.

“Can you stay with the feeling of being taller for just 10 seconds?” I asked.

Like a form of training, he built his capacity to experience positive feelings. Going slowly, we practiced noticing sensations associated with pride, love, gratitude, and joy, getting used to them a little at a time.

What else can Mike and all of us do in the short run to help the parts of us that feel not enough?

We can remind our self again and again that the feeling of not enough was learned. It’s not objective fact, even when it feels so viscerally true.
We can connect to that part of us that feels bad and offer it compassion, like we would do for our child, partner, colleague, friend, or pet.
We can stand in a power pose 2-3 times daily to feel stronger and more confident. (See Ted Talk on Power Poses by Amy Cuddy)
We can practice deeply belly breathing, 5 or 6 times in a row, to calm our nervous system.
We can exercise to get adrenaline flowing and create a sense of empowerment.
We can remember this very helpful phrase: Compare and Despair! When you catch yourself making comparisons to others, STOP! It doesn’t help and only hurts by fueling feelings and thoughts of not enough.

In the long run, we heal the parts of us that feel inadequate by first becoming aware of them. Once aware, we listen to them and try to fully understand the story of how they came to believe they were not enough. Over time, by naming, validating and processing the associated emotions both from the past and present, the frequency and intensity of our not enough parts diminishes.

Mike learned to feel and move through the buried anger he had towards his parents both for moving and for not noticing how much he struggled. He validated the pain and sadness for what he went through without judging whether he was entitled to his feelings. When his wife hugged him and praised him for being such a great dad, he took in her love and praise as deeply as possible. He accepted himself during the times when he was too tired to fight against the feelings of not enough. By educating himself on emotions and how the brain is affected by childhood adversity, Mike learned that everyone struggled. No one is perfect, not even his father. When all else failed, just this thought brought him peace and reminded him that he was enough.

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