Yesterday, a friend asked me to drive to DC with her and try soul-cyle. After googling their website– and seeing their tag-line, Find Your Soul, I was a definite yes. I probably wouldn’t have ventured to DC on my own on a Sunday — but paired with a willing partner, I jumped on this adventure.

I imagined this uplifting experience, where not only did I sweat my entire week’s frustrations out on the cycle floor, I also was revitalized with a soul inspiring experience.  I imagined a blissed-out exhaustion that could be life-changing.   This was based solely on my typical spin class experiences — where I exhaust my mind and body so thoroughly that I am left with wide open spaces for my soul to speak to me.

It’s not exactly what happened.  In fact, I found myself in a dark, hot room with bodies, metal and an sudden rush of claustrophobia.  I started sweating before the workout began. I felt a hot rush of anxiety wave over me as I came undone by the tight spaces and the inability to ground myself in the dark.  Part of me wanted to bolt— I didn’t care that I couldn’t quite figure out how to – given I was clipped in with bike shoes that I no idea how to release myself from.  Truth in that moment — panic makes even easy things complicated.

Then the music started and I felt an immediate assault to my soul.  The music jammed against the walls with nowhere to go except into my body — which could not hold its volume.  I was completely unnerved and the panic rose swiftly.  I had to leave.  How do I get out of here?

After about 10 minutes of plotting an exit strategy that I wasn’t quite sure I could pull off– I surrendered.  I allowed my discomfort to float within me, around me, under me.  I didn’t know what to do.  I accepted that.  So I pedaled and I closed my eyes.

And I went deep within myself where there was no sound.  And I sweated and cried.  At one point a song came on that said “I don’t care if the sidewalk ends” — and I realized that so much of what I fear is not knowing what to do with my pain, my discomfort.  A part of me can’t bear to think of not having a plan.  I  must know how to solve each new challenge — to know what to do when the sidewalk disappears.  It could kill me. 

And then I realized so much of the noise of our lives is us busy-ing ourselves with plans, solutions, distractions.  The assaults– both small and large— can be too much.  So we focus on what to do.

I get it.  I have known excruciating pain in my life.  Pain that I thought would kill me.  But it didn’t.  And either did soul-cycle — it just gave me an opportunity to find the hope again in the silence.