On my friend J.’s latest blog entry (just posted today), she writes about “wrestling with a mighty wave of anxiety…a struggle that has lasted several weeks” and one that she has “consistently lost.”
I’ve been wrestling with anxiety as well, although unlike J. I can’t pinpoint the exact cause. The tension manifests as a dull ache in the area below my shoulder blades—a region that often invited intense ministrations from the albularyos I visited in my childhood. Naa kay piang diri, no? the old men would ask, their fingers digging a few inches below my rhomboids.
Piang is a tricky Cebuano word to translate. As a noun, its most literal interpretation is “injury;” as an adjective, it translates as “lame.” As I’ve never sustained an injury to my upper back, the more correct interpretation would be “lame”—as in I have a “lame” back. In allopathic terms, I have a weak respiratory system: a system that, in fact, has routinely suffered from asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia and rales.
Anxiety makes me feel this childhood piang. Although yoga has reduced my respiratory lapses to almost zero in the last few years, the energetic weakness is still there—a vulnerability linked to the heart chakra and the spiritual tasks of surrender and trust.
There’s something I’m not surrendering. There’s something I’m not trusting.
It could be myself. It could be life in general. It could be the universe in its entirety.
Whatever it is, I’ll know I’ve found the answer when the dull ache below my shoulder blades disappears.
Someday, I’d like to be able to say, Nawa’ na lagi ang akong piang.