Everyone in my office environment is suffering from some sort of running nose, watery eye phenomenon but some call it a cold others call it allergies and who really knows? Last week I traveled clear across the country from Portland Maine to Vancouver BC and it was one of the longest trips I have taken in sometime. I was on 2 airplanes for more than 12 hours and my body was stiff and sore when I got off the plane out west. I did yoga that same night and each morning thereafter until I returned home. When I got home my body was so stiff and sore that I have been doing a mixture of Yin yoga with Vinyassa to get the kinks out and also doing some massage therapy. My body and mind feel utterly exhausted. My thoughts are scattered and I while sitting up meditating I actually fell asleep one morning. I have been trying to walk, do a lot of yoga and lay off the weight training until my body has the strength to perform normally again.
I have been doing some reading and writing but like now just typing out this blog is taking me longer than usual as I’m fighting foggy brain and forgetting my words. Last night my skin was hurting and my body was so sore but my husband mentioned that I had glassy eyes also. I said oh I think it is either a cold or allergies. He said it was traveler’s fatigue. Interesting, traveler’s fatigue, I believe he just may be right. The symptoms are similar to what other people in the office are facing but because I don’t get office bugs but once a year and have never had allergies I think he might have nailed my diagnosis. I have never really done well with traveling and doing a long distance stint like that was fairly grueling. Coming back and losing the 3 hours seemed to be more difficult but it could all be mental and both ways are just as difficult.
When I got home I went to one yoga session at the studio but realize my body needed more restorative yoga and that is when I turned to Yin. I have been doing Yin now every day since my arrival home, but fitting in some sessions of vinyassa just to remind my body and mind that I can in fact do this and although it will take some time to get back to base line I am willing to do everything needed to get there as well as wait as long as it takes. It all goes back to listening closely to what the body needs and what mine needs right now is rest. Walking seems to be working fairly well and even doing a few minutes of walking meditation at lunch time are helping. The weather has turned a corner here in Maine so getting fresh air outside and some vitamin D is also helping. All these things add up to getting back to base line as quickly as possible without pushing too hard, too fast and expecting too much.
I’m hoping to help you get going on an easy meditation practice. The first thing you need is commitment as this will not work without it. No matter how easy it may seem if you are not truly committed to the practice than even minutes a day are going to seem like an unachievable chore. Once you have made the commitment for a few minutes a day pick your spot. Anywhere that is quiet, comfortable and decide if you will be sitting on the floor or in a chair. If you are choosing the floor than having a wall you can sit against will be helpful for keeping a good posture and allowing breath to move easily. If you are choosing a chair than make sure the chair is comfortable but not too comfortable. You will need to be able to have your feet flat on the floor and your back straight for good breathing techniques.
I prefer sitting on the floor and use a bolster to lift my hips up a bit but a blanket, block, cushion or nothing would work just fine too. I sit on the bolster with my back against a wall. My shoulder blades rest on the wall but my head does not as I’m looking for a long neutral spine. I cross my legs in easy sitting pose and rest my hands in my lap but you can really put your hands anywhere that is comfortable. The timing can be any amount of time you choose and starting out with 2-3 minutes a day is really easy way to find a routine in meditation. Most smart phones have a timer, or you can use a song you like that is about 2-3 minutes long. There are meditation aps you can use or even you tube. My ideal scenario is to put on a song that I enjoy or a few songs if I am going to be meditating for a while but one song is plenty for starting out. Once the song starts sit quietly and start breathing. This is not forceful breathing or deep breathing but normal breathing until you find the rhythm of your breath. Concentrate on where your breath takes you and concentrate on that area. If you go to your belly then focus on your belly, if you feel it in the tip of your nose than concentrate there. This is where it gets important to find your focus as thoughts will be running in and out of your mind.
The idea is not to stop the thoughts because that just won’t happen but slow the thoughts down, acknowledge them and let them go. If you prefer counting your breaths do you so if you like to count your inhale for a count of 4,6 or 8 then mimic your exhale with the same number. Perhaps you start with a 4 count and build up to an 8 count as you spend more time meditating. This is where it can get very personal for you and what works for you. Finding quiet for a few minutes every day is so beneficial and I even read that it can decrease inflammation in the body. With MCTD I carry a lot of inflammation in my body so reducing even a little is a benefit for me. Deciding when you will meditate is also important because if you are feeling rushed when you are first learning you may not be able to quiet the mind and may feel as though you cannot master the art of meditation but with time you will thoroughly enjoy those moments of quiet whenever and wherever you can get them. Don’t give up to soon and don’t think you can’t do it because just like everything else in life this takes practice too. Once you can sit for 2-3 minutes than add 1 minute a week so that you are practicing just a little bit longer each time and once you find that this becomes a piece of cake then sitting quietly for 10-30 minutes will just be so enjoyable but it takes time, practice and even a little work.
The other piece of advice I will offer is that try to do it every day. If you miss a day ok but don’t miss 2 days in a row as finding the routine is what really makes it work and if you are only doing a couple days a week that is not a routine. If something has to give it usually are things that are not routine for you. Once it is a part of your routine you may not need to think about it as much and can play with what works for you. Maybe you have a mantra, maybe you just sit and watch your thoughts come and go, either way you will find your way. Using aps is helpful in the beginning because they use either soothing words or music and have their own timers so you just push the button and off you go. Enjoy it, practice it, and embrace what it has to offer so that you can make it part of your day and your life.