Both Hills and Valleys – July 2014

The Wise Little Yogi

Meditation Eliminates ViolenceIt was early May when I took my first yoga class with the encouragement of fellow Moon Joggers. I’d wanted to try yoga for years and found a beginner-friendly class taught at a local studio on Friday evenings at 5:30. As part of a core tenet of yoga, Seva meaning “selfless service”, they offer a free class for the community every week and collect donations for a local shelter that serves the victims of domestic violence. It acts as a reminder of our connection to others and provides a way for the instructors and students to contribute to the community in a positive way. I walked into class by myself because a friend canceled and I’ve been going back every other Friday ever since. I know the opportunity to help others is a big part of my commitment to attend.

I learned on that first night that yoga students come in all ages, shapes and sizes. The teacher was probably near retirement and not made of the lean, long muscles I’d always associated with yoga. But to see her bend and stretch, it was her grace, strength and power that I decided I want to emulate in my later years. Along with the flexibility and balance that will serve her better than skinny ever would. In the months that followed I’ve had a different instructor each week and took something new away from each of them. One shares bits of wisdom sprinkled between the challenging poses. Another spends extra time in silence at the beginning and end to bring us fully into the present moment after a busy work week. I plan to add more classes in the coming weeks but that one session on a Friday evening is timed perfectly to make use of all of its benefits.

The first two classes I attended I left the room after yoga and didn’t stay for the gong meditation even though we are always invited and encouraged to stay. One new thing at a time, please. And thank you. But the third time, something about the instructor describing it as a drug-free high piqued my curiosity. So after yoga I continued to lay flat on my back with my eyes closed as the teacher in the other room opened the adjoining door and pulled the beautiful gong into the doorway. I opened my eyes for just a second to see it for myself. And it could have been right next to me if I didn’t know it was across the room. Every vibration went through me and I felt light-headed and almost dizzy from the sounds. No wonder you’re supposed to be lying down for it. I reminded me of the old film clip of the Tacoma Narrows bridge, Galloping Gertie. Only four months after construction was completed in 1940, winds of only 42 miles per hour caused the metal and concrete structure to roll and twist until it finally collapsed. ( That’s what my body felt like from the vibrations of the gong.

Meditation was another thing friends had recommended for years.

Losing Weight with YogaAs busy as my mind can be I knew it could only help. But something about quiet and calm always seemed spooky to me. I spent my entire 20’s running in the opposite direction by filling every spare moment with talk and activity. It was my own self-imposed extroversion, at times. In my thirties my two kids served the same purpose even though I’m only realizing that now. Hmmm. So it’s my forties that have allowed the space and time and peace to give it a proper try. But when they talk about meditation I’m not sure the point is to recollect black and white film footage of a structural failure that I learned about in high school Physics class. Probably not. I’m not the best student of breathing and focus and quiet. Yet.

But something about that peaceful girl in the picture so full of calm at 8 years old makes me want to keep trying. After all, my mother always said I was a grown up in a child’s body. About time I find that wise little yogi in me. She’s waited long enough.

michelleABOUT: Michelle Roberts lives in Tallahassee, Florida, with her husband, Paul, and two children, Ashleigh (10) and Philip (8). She ran her first 5k in October of 2012 and her first half marathon in February of 2013. She was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder in 2001 and maintains a healthy balance without the use of medication thanks to a job she loves, a supportive family, regular exercise, her writing and therapy. A wonderful life of “Both Hills and Valleys”.

    “The marvelous richness of human experience would lose something of rewarding joy if there were no limitations to overcome. The hilltop hour would not be half so wonderful if there were no dark valleys to traverse.”
    Helen Keller



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