Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Update, February 1

Just thought I'd let you know how I've been doing on my New Year's resolutions. As you may remember, I hoped to continue my meditation and yoga practices and to complete the 8-week course I had begun. I've just finished week six, and can proudly say that I haven't missed a day.

The cool thing about this particular course is that one of the requirements is that you don't judge whether it is benefiting you, until you have completed it. The point to that is that you free yourself to experience it in the moment instead of always judging whether you are getting "results." The ultimate result is, of course, a greater skill at doing just that: living, instead of looking for results. Being in the moment. Being aware. Accepting with grace whatever life brings to you because it is life, and you are aware of it.

All hard to explain to someone who has not at least tried it out.

But I'm going to break the rule here and do an evaluation. Have I benefited from my practice?

Absolutely. Positively. No doubt.

I'm embarrassed to even describe the ways I've grown because I know I'll sound like just another gospel hobbyist. So I'll say it this way: I believe God led me to this at this point in my life because it was exactly what I needed and what I was ready for. It has brought me so much joy that I want to proselyte about it, but I know that I wasn't ready for it at other times in my life and would have just thought it was kooky. So I forgive you for not jumping on the bandwagon. (Yikes—now I'm starting to sound like I'm saying, "When you progress to MY level, THEN you'll know the value of this. No, I don't mean it that way—but just that it was what I needed now. If you think you might be needing something like this, I'd love to share it with you.)

So, in general terms, I believe I have become more patient, more in-the-moment, more peaceful. I've had a change in my beliefs about how God works with us, how He loves us, how our individual plans work out over time. I feel stronger spiritually.

It's hard for me to know, though, whether this is all because of the meditation or whether it is also a result of being so very sick and frightened for a while.

You see, I have been very sick. Most recently I have had trouble breathing and other odd things, unexplained things, things that make me start wondering why I should have health when others don't. Why shouldn't I get cancer, too? Or a long-term, debilitating chronic illness? I've had a lot of fear about that, and done a lot of pleading/bargaining with God. So now that I really think I've turned a corner health-wise, I am just grateful to be alive and getting better.

In case you're curious, this week I was diagnosed with a hiatal hernia. ["Is nothing sacred?" you are asking yourself. "Will this girl keep nothing private?" Well, I've never been a very private person. I don't mind your knowing.] The really great thing about this diagnosis is that it explains the breathlessness and other things that have been going on (at least, we hope it explains it). How refreshing to read all the testimonials on the internet about people going to emergency rooms, pulmonologists, etc., getting CT scans of their lungs, fearing asthma, etc.—and then these people are diagnosed with hiatal hernia and are helped by "the little purple pill." It's just so nice to know WHY!!! And that I'm not alone! I haven't found the right little purple pill, but I will and all will be well.

ANYWAY, I talked about the general benefits of my practice. I've had some SPECIFIC breakthroughs as well. (This part will probably mean nothing to you or sound kooky if you haven't tried meditation seriously.) For example, today as I was meditating, I reached a point where I could visualize/feel light from God entering my entire body with each breath. It was the sweetest feeling, and I knew that it was what God intended—that He is always near, to be breathed in if we are aware of it. I enjoyed imagining this light changing my physical make-up, making me more godly: a sort of sacrament. It was a beautiful experience. I hope I can get it back again sometime.

Another specific thing that probably sounds silly: I've begun to see how I use my knitting as meditation. I've found that when I am feeling particularly tired or ill but I need to still be up (social situations, for example), I can get out my knitting and it centers me, keeps me calm and keeps fear (of my unexplained symptoms) at bay. Probably people think I am not giving them the attention they deserve when I knit in their presence, but really I am doing it to enable me to be with them more (instead of going to bed). I guess I should write a book: Zen and the Art of Knitting.

As far as the yoga goes—that's the BEST part. I am so in love with yoga these days. It was the perfect thing to rehabilitate my body after being in bed so long. I am still doing very gentle, slow yoga, but look forward to doing more vigorous kinds as well. I used to be afraid of doing yoga because of the time it took; I didn't want to spend my precious half-hour of exercise doing "just" yoga because then I wouldn't get my cardiovascular in and I MIGHT GET FAT. Once I changed in my attitude from wanting to exercise in order to stay thin to wanting to exercise to experience the joy of moving a healthy body, the fear disappeared. I'm convinced that doing yoga daily, even gentle yoga, even with no other exercise, would still keep me thin because I am doing it mindfully, joyfully, and because it leads me to see my body differently and eat differently.

I could be wrong about that, though. I can't judge that one based on the last six weeks because I have lost weight due to illness. We'll see. Meanwhile, I think I'll take up walking as well just to get the benefit of being outside and moving my body mindfully that way.

So there you have it. One Girl's Experience With Yoga and Meditation. I'll try not to go kooky on you, but don't mind me if I like to share my joy.


Marj said...

There used to be a woman in my ward that taught free yoga/pilates classes at the church. I loved it even though it was very hard for me (and somewhat embarrassing since I am the world's most unflexible person) but I thought it was a good workout and I miss doing it. I've had some weird things going on with me the past few weeks (headaches, body aches, fatigue, etc) and I haven't gone to the doctor thinking what if it's nothing then I'll feel stupid? But then what if it's something I don't want to find out about?

Jennifer B. said...

Your experience fascinates me. I am so happy I read your post today because I think I NEED this! I have been low on patience lately and struggling in a few other areas. I'm going to check and see if my library has those books by Jon Kabbat-Zinn (sp?). Other recommendations? Oh, and thanks for sharing your joy.

Angie said...

I've been wanting to get back into yoga. I started a few years ago and loved it, but I got our of practice when we moved. What program are you using?

Angela said...

Darlene--I haven't visited your blog in a while but love reading what you have to say. I've always been interested in meditation--and I tried yoga once (in a class) but was too embarrassed by my lack of balance and flexibility & my self-consciousness seriously undermined the experience. Maybe in the privacy of my own home?? I'm looking forward to moving my body again, though--after 9 long months of pregnancy, running or yoga or aerobics or swimming--any of those things sound heavenly. You'll have to fill me in on your program next time we get together.

Sprig said...

Good for you, Dearie! Mindfulness helps everything. Oh, thanks for your comment back to my other comment. We still talk about Peter Running Away and Lobsters are Bald. Love, K

Maralise said...

I have had some of the same thoughts about yoga...too much time, too little cardio etc... But I think you have changed my mind. Thanks oh kooky zen master.