I’ve done yoga for years now, Moksha yoga, specifically. I love it; the heat, the sweating, the shaky leg muscles holding postures, and especially the stretching. Yoga in itself is a moving meditation, although I have mostly considered it a workout. Chatarunga is chataFunga for biceps and great for core. yoga changed my body for the better.
So back to this moving and mindful meditation stuff…. I’ve been called a tree hugger and I’ve been known to wear a flowy dress on more than one occasion, but I’ve never put myself into the hippie category.
I can’t handle too much patchouli and groovy spirits dancing poorly to jangly music in grassy parks… and drum circles make me rage (Mostly because of the lack of rhythm).
So when meditation was suggested as a grief coping mechanism I thought: Eeewww. I don’t want dreadlocks.
It was actually one of my medical doctors who suggested meditation for me for grief management and PTSD treatment after John’s suicide. He could definitely see the distain in my face upon his suggestion, because he lent over and using his stethoscope for emphasis said “look. I’m a red neck atheist and mindful meditation is good for you. I do it all the time”. Ok then. Let’s look into this, shall we?
We were introduced to meditation in my grief support group, and for some, it didn’t make sense. The idea of being present by focusing on one thing in particular as a goal to think about nothing just wasn’t for them. Turns out, one of them had unknowingly been meditating while she rode horses… the rhythm and the focus of equestrian sports is kinda like meditating. I grew up around horses and I concur. You become one entity with your horse and to do so, you’ve got to let go of negative thoughts, sadness, the works. She admitted, riding gave her a peace she doesn’t otherwise feel after her beautiful son took his own life. Peace. That’s kinda like meditation, right?
For me, it turns out yoga has been my sneaky introduction to meditation. The breathing, both controlled and strong, gives the postures an ease. The breathing requires quite a bit of focus, believe it or not. The breath feeds both the muscles and calms your mind, distracting from the OMG MY LEGS ARE ON FYRE feeling you often get during the warrior series. Breathing gives your body strength during strenuous activity, and meditation gives your mind the tools to find strength when it is overwhelmed by emotion – in my case, grief.
I’ve attended one official group meditation practice circle, and it was very, hum, confusing. You can’t ever do meditation incorrectly, but how the heck do you get it right? Minds are wonderful wanderers and wouldn’t you know it, within minutes I was all over the place. Thinking about my breathing led to me thinking about John’s last breath. How shallow it must have been when he drifted away from me and his life on this earth. And here I am taking deep breaths. How dare i?
But here I am. Breathing for two.
Unbeknownst to myself, I had actually also been meditating when I run. For some reason, the circular count of eight goes through my head all of the time. 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8… each stride a number. It gives me a peace and a pace, and guides my breathing; my yoga breathing.
So that’s how I will become a professional grade meditator: By continuing on the path of my journey with grief; By counting to 8, by loving my yoga, by breathing for someone else…but I still have no clue how to be more present.
That’s so hippie, I can’t even…namaste, yo.