Maintenance routine for heart, head & body
Over the last few years I’ve developed a habit of daily meditation. It didn’t come naturally at first. Like a lot of you who are reading this, I struggled to sit still and “not think”. I preferred running meditation, swimming, dancing… Anything that would exhaust my body, release endorphins and quieten my mind through my body.
And then I encountered a great opportunity for growth. There was a disconnect between what my heart, head and body were telling me. Trying to get the three to become one again and get out of the situation I could not remove myself from by sheer force of will, I approached it on several levels at the same time.
I started training for a half ironman and finally went back to yoga. I took control back over what was happening to and with my body. I looked after it and enjoyed it in a playful way. The joy of running until you feel you become one with nature and of exercising with friends while talking about life as much as the solitude of marvelling at light play at the bottom of the pool and the feeling of wholeness yoga all share similar effects on my mind and body.
And somewhere along the way a wise friend of mine recommended a book called Mental Resilience, a non-spiritual approach to meditation. In hindsight, I barely even remember what my problems with meditation were. But I do know that I now still at times let it fall by the wayside, mainly when I feel too good or too tired. And every time that happens I lose my zen.
I started exploring spiritual teachings and inspiring talks over the last few years too. It was something I would’ve laughed at or had a discussion about when I was younger. Now, I feel deeply connected with my intuition, the world and those around me. Often, I still struggle with that, as it is all too easy to fall back into more egoic ways of thinking and feeling. Judging myself and others and acting out of habit or withdrawing in times of conflict or when feelings become to strong or distrusting my intuition. But what I have learned from talks by Stephanie Dowrick, Swami Govinanda and others is that spiritual health which ultimately expresses itself in your mind and body requires your daily maintenance and attention as much as physical health does.
And it doesn’t have to be hard. It doesn’t even have to be deep. For me, even just taking a little time a day to sit by the water, lie in bed and feel my breath and body or reading inspiring books or watching great talks can be enough. You don’t have to run a marathon every day to have a healthy body either, right?
External circumstances can often get in the way. (See, I’m as good at excuses as anyone!) When I broke my foot, I could no longer do yoga, kept the meditation and daily maintenance up for a good month or two and then, month 3, whoops, off by the wayside I went. Swept away by strong feelings of love, pain & a modicum of fear. The pain I could mostly deal with and I’ve found ways to manage. The fear was removing me from my present experience and thus hindering my healing process. And love, well, I’ve vowed to keep bringing more of it into my life in smaller quieter ways once again, so I’m not quite as awed when it hits me in a larger dose.
Breaking my foot has been a great challenge given my job and temperament, throwing my life out of balance. It’s shown up the holes in my sailboat, so to speak. But it’s been a great opportunity to look at my boat for any other flaws and potential risks and renew my commitment to my daily so(u)l routines – yoga or not. So…as my friends of old would tell you, if I can do it, so can you. It’s only hard if you make it so. Go on, meditate and look after your wholeself.
Below are two inspiring talks I loved watching that may get you started on something to sit with for today.