This week I took two yoga classes. I haven’t taken a yoga class in quiet a while, but thanks to the requirement on the training plan I’m following for my half marathon to stretch, I’ve felt obligated to fit in some formal class time.
These classes were the first I’ve taken in a new studio. Anyone who’s practiced yoga knows that while the poses may be the same, every instructor is different. During both of my practices this week, my instructor began the class with several minutes of seated meditation. I always look at yoga as an introspective time for myself. The time that I am not flooded with background noise in the form or Nick Jr, a car radio, or an iPod blaring into my ears, I am playing with my toddler, playing with my phone, reading a blog, or catching up on my reality TV (everyone has a guilty pleasure, don’t judge ;) ). So, being forced into taking some meditative time for myself was a wonderful thing. I had an emotional week this week, and sitting on my mat in silence I was able to acknowledge the feelings that I was feeling and deal with them rather than making believe they didn’t exist by smothering them with external, noisy distractions.
Today was a cross training day for me, and I took spin class. Spin at my gym is made of LOUD music and a dark room with black lights. The environment makes it very easy to zone out of your work out and into the music. About 40 minutes into our class this morning there was a lull in the music leaving our room dead silent except for the whir or the wheels spinning. And a loud squeak-squeak, squeak-squeak from someone’s pedals. Yeah …. they were mine. I zoned out of my work out and into the music to such a point that I neglected my posture and was leaning on the pedals rather than supporting myself the way that I should. I corrected it immediately and saw a virtual connect-the-dots in my head from me sitting on my mat in meditation to me spinning with no music behind me, and it got me thinking …
It is so easy to go through life and not really pay attention to what is happening to us or within us at any given moment. It takes a lot of effort and self awareness – in this day and age especially thanks to technology - to be in tune with ourselves.
I think back to myself several years ago while I was suffering from Anorexia and I was never without a book in my purse. I read all of the classics during those years – all of the books that we were supposed to read in high school and college, but somehow, we always wound up getting the cliff notes to – and countless others. I would go through multiple books per week. And while I’m sure the people around me thought I was just a book worm, the truth was I couldn’t stand to be alone with the silence. Sure, the car radio worked in the car, but this was before smart phones gave us countless hours worth of mindless activities to get us through waiting rooms, and train rides, and lunch breaks. So I read. And I read, and I read, and I read. I couldn’t tell you one detail about one of those hundreds of books that I read during that time because I was doing it mindlessly to deafen the noise that was in my mind.
So, this morning when the music lulled in spin class and I heard myself slacking off in my workout, I realized the power of the silence. That time that we allow ourselves to be without distraction, without the music, without the books, without the chatter, or the smart phone, or the television. That time is a gift that we can give ourselves – a treat, I always say. A little time to check in with what is really going on, what we’re really thinking or feeling. Or what we’re not really thinking or feeling.
Just a time that you allow yourself to be peaceful, and listen to the silence.
Do you allow yourself time to meditate, or sit silently regularly?