This year, in an effort to purge myself of Things That Don’t Make Me Happy, and to honor the word “quiet”, I broke up with my beloved (and I do mean that) Pilates instructor. I told Queen Bee it was only for a season. Queen Bee had been an important supporter of my Camino. During Pilates class, she would work all the parts of me that hurt from walking: hips, thighs, and plantar fasciitis riddled/formerly fractured foot. It was not that the Pilates itself or Queen Bee was making me unhappy. I just was not grooving with the Lulu Lemon pretension in the room. (Or should I say “studio”?). It got so that I did not look forward to the class, even though my body thanked me for the effort.
In December, a friend from church took me to her yoga joint. I had done yoga with Queen Bee but the yogis in her class were far more advanced than me. I needed Baby Yoga. No chimichangas (a.k.a. chattarangas) for me. As I lost several inches of tendons in my right ankle due to the apocalyptic fracture, certain poses are impossible for me. However, this local yoga “studio” had Relaxation as well as “Chill Flow” yoga, both of which appealed to my need for quiet. Relaxation yoga moves at a snail’s pace. It is generally accompanied by guided meditation or “yoga_nidra” (click on the word to read about it). Chill Flow yoga moves a faster pace and at the end you are rewarded with a mini nidra.
Perhaps readers will recall that I grew up in Hippieville, California and, as such, have eschewed all things Hippie. Yoga fell into that category. So did Birkenstocks, pot, patchouli oil, and carob brownies. Having said that, you cannot be uninfluenced by where you grew up; there is, lurking in recesses of my soul, an inner hippie-empathetic child. I have also had countless friends extoll the virtues of yoga with the zeal of a Westborough Baptist, trying to convert me to their religion. Although they were well-intentioned, I resisted. But as we all know, evangelists* of all stripes work best when being, well, quiet. Subtle. Gentle. Merely suggestive.
I also recently ordered some CDs of guided meditation on the recommendation of a friend who is recovering from a stroke and the uncoiling of 3 cerebral aneurysms. Belleruth Naperstek’s guided meditations and affirmations cover almost every conceivable human condition. I mainly bought them for Thing 1 as she suffers from migraines – there is a CD for headaches. In the beginning, you can’t tell if Belleruth’s voice is going to bug the crap out of you or soothe you into oblivion.
All of these things were in motion when Texas Belle came for her visit. Texas Belle is full of energy and keeps lists on a variety of subjects. She brought along her book club list to compare. One of the books on her list was 10% Happier by Dan Harris. Mr. Harris achieved all of this via – you guessed it – meditation. I am not finished with the book but please rush out and buy it. It is that good. For starters, he is hilarious. Do he and A. J. Jacobs know each other? I imagine the two of them meeting for merlot with Gretchen Rubin to discuss techniques for anxiety. I am getting to the good part and there is a lot of salient advice. Finally, you can give the book to your teenagers. No need to pay for expensive ACT/SAT classes: Mr. Harris’ vocabulary is so stellar that will be all they need to study.
Earlier this week, I went to Chill Flow and Shanti, the yoga instructor with the Voice of Honey, gave a class she called Finding Bliss in the Twist. Bending and twisting, she said, would detoxify the body. (I am always up for a good detox but my boobs generally get in the way.) Whatever. Basically, I will do whatever I can just to get to the end of class to do the mini nidra and have Shanti waft the essential oil (NOT patchouli) over my face and massage my temples. This time, however, during the mini nidra my mind would not really relax. I could not figure out what was up. A stream of thoughts – not ugly but enlightening – came up and out and I thought (when I should not have been thinking), aha! This is the detox. Forget about the bowels!
So here is the good twist in the ending: LIFE. The trick is to find the bliss in it. Can you slow down? Can you chill out and find Peace, Love and Hippiness? I am working on it. Breathe in, breathe out.
*except for Shingles Evangelists!