Yoga and the Great Brain Escape

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Over the past few months, no less than 15 friends or well-meaning health professionals have insisted that I include yoga as part of my health regime. And I have ignored them with style and grace. It’s not that I don’t take yoga seriously, exactly. My hesitance has more to do with the thought of practicing it with other people. In public.

My skeptical attitude isn’t due to fear or loathing. Rather, I hesitate only because my brain is similar to many other writers and creative types, meaning it never turns off and there is a constant narrative or dialogue (usually satirical), darting around in my head. So when there is a room full of people stretching, om-ing and smiling in a serene, almost Stepford Wife kind of way, well you can imagine what a gold mine of comedic skits there is before me, just waiting to come to life.

Peace Through Yoga in Zionsville, Ind., was the scene of my first true yoga encounter. In public.

Peace Through Yoga in Zionsville, Ind., was the scene of my first true yoga encounter. In public.

It was this mindset – unfortunate or otherwise – that plagued me when I attended my first yoga workshop at Peace Through Yoga. Yes, it was an actual workshop – with other people – and for three hours.

Oh, and did I forget to mention the vision board portion of the program? You know, when grownups, armed with scissors and glue, cut out images and words representing an ideal future and create collages on poster board?

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The Road to Om

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Within a three-month timespan, my general physician, gynecologist, neighbor and mail carrier have all told me that I need to learn to relax. It might have been the manic expression on my face (or various clenched body parts) that gave me away.

When I asked each of them for specific suggestions, the most common reply was this: meditation.

Armed with only that word, I reluctantly stumbled into my local library to find out more. Do you have any idea how many titles are available promising calm, inner peace and total body relaxation? About a million, give or take.

I blindly picked out a few CDs and sprinted out the door. Those CDs sat untouched on the front seat of my car for almost three weeks before I returned them. I suppose I was hoping that their mere presence would transfer deep knowledge into my brain, and I would instantly be relaxed through osmosis.  It did not go as planned.

On my second trip to the library, which was about two months ago, I took a more methodical approach. I asked a reference librarian for help.

“Hi there. I need to learn to meditate. Can you help me?”

She smirked. “What type? Transcendental … mindfulness … ?”

“Um … maybe both?”

She smirked again. “Follow me.”

I went for transcendental, because I figured I might as well go for high achievement. Two audio books and three more CDs later, I left feeling convinced that I had Nirvana in the palm of my hands. But over the next few days, as I perused the complicated resources, I became agitated. This was, of course, exactly the opposite of my original intention. So again, I returned the materials with nothing to show for them.

Five days ago, I snuck back into the library with a purpose. I had done the research at home, and decided to change course – going with the mindfulness theme. But from my prepared list, I could only find three items on the shelf: a CD, an audio book, and then a traditional book with a CD in its back sleeve. I checked out all of them.

The good news is that I’ve started reading the book/CD combo, thinking I would get the most bang for my tax-paying buck. And I’m making headway. So get ready, because I’m going to chronicle my progress. It might be ugly, but I really have nothing to lose. Except a scowl.

I invite you to come on this journey with me … I hope it’s a smooth ride.

© 2012 Michelle Freed

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