So, drool, lack of balance and farts aside, I came away from this past weekend with some invaluable new lessons and perspectives. My mind was stimulated as well as my body and I’m all the better for it.
It was one of those weekends where I was taking in so much “newness” that I have to make a concerted effort to really think about it and remember it all. Great stuff, but lots of it.
I’ve said for a long time how much I enjoy yoga. It just fits with my body. You know what I mean? I tried running for a while but felt that when I did, I was just all over the place…limbs akimbo, weird stride, odd breath. Probably didn’t look that kooky but it sure felt that way. I do love walking and do that virtually every day. And as for sports, well, I’ve told you about those experiences. Never did them and only now am discovering tennis, although Venus is not my middle name. But I’m progressing! Ah, but yoga…it fits naturally. It’s the one physical pursuit where I find myself wanting to push farther. Bring on a new pose. Let me work up to that one. I can do better with my breath…let me try. It fits. And this past weekend of being submerged in it proved all of this further, with a whole lot of frosting piled on top. Albeit, all-natural frosting. With quinoa sprinkled on top.
So… a little recap of what I very relaxingly sauntered away from the Berkshires with….
Lesson #1. Know when you have to take a break. And then do it. I got into my room and there was one small action that reaffirmed to me that I needed to reprioritize my life at the moment. I looked into my rooms’ safe and I realized that even without thinking about it I had put my makeup bag into the safe. Really? Along with my wallet, my keys and my camera, my makeup bag was that important? Yes, if you break into my room, you can take my clothes and my books, but you’re not getting my face. I actually laughed out loud at myself. Time for a break, April. You need a break.
Lesson #2. Silence is a good thing. And a necessary thing. From the smallest text ping to the loudest traffic jam and everything in between, we hear noises, noises, noises all day long, every day. Even sitting in your quiet back yard, you will probably hear a leaf-blower off in the distance (don’t get me started on those things). Not to mention the constant din from other people (mercy, mercy me). In choosing to spend this weekend solo, I found that the silence at times was almost unnerving but I also knew that I needed it. I did not read a newspaper, turn on a tv (or even see one…no random monitors here there and everywhere. Fabulous.) and was virtually smart-phone free. Man, is that freeing. There was a point in the dining hall when I looked around and realized that I was the only person walking around with my phone. I felt like an idiot. A person has to just listen to themselves sometimes. That’s the only way you will hear what you are needing and thinking. Forget just in your brain. In the deep down.
Lesson #3. Step the heck out of your box sometimes, because it won’t kill you. And in fact, will make your life all the better. Even just in little ways. You go from having a dish of vanilla ice cream to a dish of double-fudge chocolate with coconut and whipped cream on top. All in one swoop or scoop, as the metaphor may be. And it tastes great. This weekend, in between yoga classes, they had lots of other workshops to choose from, including guided hikes and walks. I pointedly chose things that I don’t usually gravitate towards. I took a writing workshop and a workshop on Shakespeare. Huh, I’m usually an art and cooking gal. But not this weekend. I even read one of my writing prompts up in front of the class. This from a girl who virtually threw up on command at the thought of public speaking when she was younger. That’s not the April I know. But hmm…I kind of like this one.
Lesson #4 You need to move. Every Day. Our world is now constructed in a way that we use cars instead our feet (more), we sit much during the day and we’ve become more stagnant with the emergence of the tv,video games and the like. Farmers never went to the gym..they had their fields. Our grandparents didn’t go to Planet Fitness, because each family didn’t have 2 or 3 cars. They were lucky if they had one and even then, they walked to the grocery store and when they did their errands. Towns were smaller. Life was more contained. It’s a different world now but our needs are still the same. And the basic premise holds true….our bodies are constructed to move and if they don’t, they atrophy. And NUTTIN’ good comes of that. Our organs and their functions need it to literally survive and even more…thrive. We all know how good we feel when we get outside for a walk or just breathe fresh air. You know when someone’s been sick in the house, the first thing you want to do when they get better is air out the house? Our bodies crave air, breath and movement. When we do, all systems work that much better.
Lesson #5 Meditation is not horrifyingly boring. Nor impossible. Who knew? I certainly didn’t. Ok, I tried a few meditation classes this weekend and yes, my foot completely fell asleep during one of them and I seriously wondered how I was going to stand up with any sort of grace, but the meditation part was very intriguing. I sort of liked it. How I’m going to integrate it into my daily routine with 2 small children is another issue altogether, but I think I really need to try. The fact that even just doing it for literally a few minutes each day is remarkably beneficial…well, that’s a selling point if ever there was one. What else can you do for just a few minutes that works miracles? One of my uncles has been meditating for years now…he’ll routinely disappear from family get-togethers for a small spell of time, only to resurface quietly a little while later. Frankly, he’s one of the most youthful, calm and even-keel people I know. Hmmmm….And you can also meditate anywhere… in a train, in a car, in a house or with a mouse, just to bring Dr. Seuss into all of this.
Lesson #6 Eat Good Food and Your Body Will Feel Great. Well, there’s a big DUH statement if ever there was one. Yes, I lived in a culinary bubble this weekend where there was only organic, whole food, virtually no caffeine or sweets and it was all more or less plant based. The first night I was so hungry that I thought I would die. I got there in time for dinner, but then the dining hall closed leaving only TEAS for the rest of the evening. I had not stockpiled, I had not hoarded earlier. I was screwed. Water and tea was not cutting it and I seriously wondered how I would make it through the night with my stomach screaming FEED ME at the top of it’s stomach lungs. But then I realized that it’s not a bad thing to be a little hungry sometimes (most of the world does it every day. oh my) and frankly, my thighs could do with a little deprivation. After that first night, though. I was amazed. I only ate at meal times. I ate obscenely huge piles of veggies, non-meat based proteins (nuts, beans) and you know what? I felt great. Flushed out. Healthy. Sparkly, even. And totally satiated, amazingly so. And after the caffiene headache abated, my mind liked the new routine too. The lack of sweets (they only do desserts twice a week) turned out to be a good thing, too. I’m heading into chocolate-bunny-jelly-bean weekend with a quieted hunger. I am one of those people who generally does eat healthily but when it’s the ONLY option, it really becomes a whole new game. And a good game, at that.
And the #7 That Really Should be #1 Lesson is Simply to…Be Present. Whatever is in front of you right now is what you need to be giving your whole attention to right now. Give it 100% and be there with it. Be it a thing, a person, an activity, even a meal. That concentration will be miraculous. This is supremely difficult in our kudos-t0-multi-tasking society, but it’s what a mind needs to do. Success is sure to follow.
So there you have it…I certainly learned more than even these few points and I’m sure I’ll be peppering more posts with little quips here and there, but these are the biggies and the highlights.
Have a great day and wherever you are, be there.