When Eric and I were coming to the end of our walk with the dogs this morning, he asked if I wanted to stop at the grocery store on the way home, “or are you going to still try and make it to yoga?” I told him, “I haven’t decided if I’m going to yoga or meditation at the Shambhala Center.” He asked, “How do you decide which one you are going to do?”
This is my dilemma every Sunday morning: 9:30 – 11 a.m. yoga class, or 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. meditation. Sometimes, I go to yoga and sneak in late to meditate at the end, but I’m usually a little sweaty, not dressed for it, feeling kind of gross and tired, and really want to go home, shower and eat, so usually I don’t. I usually pick yoga, since it’s one of the only classes taught by one of my favorite teachers, and because I sit whether I go to the public time or not. If I skip yoga, I skip yoga for the day, but if I skip the public sit, I’ll still meditate on my own.
I explained to Eric that yoga is intended to synchronize body and mind, is sometimes seen as preparation for sitting practice, and as a writer/reader/thinker who spends so much time in my head, as a disembodied mind, that what I usually need more is to mindfully move my body.
But if my brain is especially discursive or troubled, when I’m avoiding thinking about something, denying some reality, yoga can end up being a way to avoid, a method of denial or distraction. It’s times like these when I need to meditate, to calm and train my mind, to face reality, to connect with what’s really going on, to work with it on its own terms, as it is and as I am.
That’s what I needed today, to work with my mind, meet it where it’s at, try to give it some space. I’m thinking, or rather trying not to think, about someone I love who is suffering–more than one someone, actually. I woke up last night and worried instead of sleeping, and feel sick to my stomach, heartbroken about it. Each update about the situation feels like a knife, a sharp cut, and yet I can’t seem to look away. My mind rushes between “what should I do? what’s going to happen? what should I do?!” and “I’m not going to think about it, just ignore it, numb out, avoid it,” neither of which is a healthy state of being.
So today, my mind needed meditation, more than it needed mindful movement. And it also needed writing and dog (both of which I got plenty while I sat in the back yard drafting this post, a dog lounging in the grass on each side of me).
I’m not having an entirely restful day of rest, but I am doing the best I can, and that’s really all any of us can ever do.