Six months ago I started a purposeful morning routine of yoga and stretching, and along the way, unintended meditation.This routine was in response to a bout of lower back pain, something I’ve had on and off over the years – the result of falling down a greasy flight of stairs, while carrying a case of beer, in my early twenties while working at a bar. The case of beer survived, I didn’t fair as well.
Staying active has certainly helped over the years, but I’ve noticed the older I get the more deep stretching I need.
Each morning now, after tea, I roll out my mat, set my phone to random calming music and begin. Muscle memory and repitition guide me through each move, from table pose to cat, cat to cow, and my favourites: cobra, child’s pose and pigeon and so on.
In the beginning, all this would take no more than 25 minutes; ending with a few deep breaths in and out, and rush on the the rest of my day. The benefits were remarkable, each day I could feel the benefits of this daily ritual. My body was moving with less pain and my flexibility was getting back to where it had been years ago. And in the process, I learned how to meditate.
I was soon spending as much time lying quietly as I was with my stretching.
I had never bothered trying to meditate before: never understood why anyone would do it, what the benefits could possibly be, and, more important, never thought I could quiet my mind, indignant in my thinking that active people have active minds.
Well, I was right about the quieting the mind. I’m still working on that. But I have learned you can’t force it. I can now let my mind whiz around batting out every thought until, ever so slowly, I catch the glimpses of calm. It was unnerving at first. I know I am a control freak and couldn’t even lose control of the randomness of thoughts I carry around.
But I am a work in progress.
And that’s the whole point, I am beginning to understand.