When in Doubt do Yoga

• ~600 words • 3 minute read

Right now the year is winding down and with it the daylight dwindles. I have many things to finish and many things to start, which I suppose is the sign of a life being fully lived.

It's a time of reflection. This year, like every before it, passed by so quickly in some ways. There are times when I feel like I spent much of this year trying to process my experiences from the year before. My mind skips and jumps to places and scenes checkered all across 2013 and now I look up to find 2015 just around the corner. It's bewildering but not melancholy. I find a way to mostly smile and shrug and a good amount of credit goes to yoga.

I've been going through my blog archives recently and was a little surprised to find how often yoga came up. It's kept me centered most of this year and been the thing I leaned back on when things were bewildering or melancholy. With a particularly trying stretch on the horizon — a stretch of almost unanimously good things I'd say, but a lot of things — I decided to recommit to yoga in a more meaningful and intense way.

Throughout the year I've averaged probably 1.5 classes per week but so far this month I've done 12 sessions in the past two weeks. That's nearly one a day. About 1,080 minutes of hot yoga. I was worried I might injure or overdo it somehow but so far I feel amazing.

It might be the guided meditations, the sweating, the exercises, or maybe it's simply taking 90 minutes out of my day to sit and not let dumb things in life consume me. The worries shrink to their appropriate size until you find they fall right out of you. Even the less physically intense moments can be internally challenging. Staying still, and present with your breath.

Lately, with so many thoughts swirling ahead of me and behind me, I've been spending those stiller moments of my practice pondering what it truly means to be present in a moment. To sit and not let your mind drift to the past or to things to come. How far can you reel your mind in on either side of that pinpoint? Can you come to rest at that fulcrum of histories and futures that drag and pull the present? I think about these things. And compassion, and forgiveness, what those things really mean, how they have a gentle demeanor but are not passive acts.

Then I go home, generally make something to eat and start (or end) my day. If I need a meditative pick-me-up later-on I've taken to listening to Tara Brach. It's like the guided, meditative portions of my yoga practice. It softens me when the days make me start to stiffen, and though I prefer to find times when I can give it fuller attention, I find even having her on in the background while I work can be soothing. I'll pick up things here and there and have no qualms listening to the same episodes multiple times.

There is a third meditative thing I've been supplementing this yoga + guided meditation regiment with: long bicycle rides to the less-visited corners of Portland. It's a rule — if there's a thing I need to do but have found trouble doing it then what I probably need is a change of scenery. I'll bike for a full hour north, less familiar streets and bridges, nearing the point where he skyline starts to disappear around the river's bend.

Yoga + Meditation + Bicycles.

+ +

Between those things it's enough. Enough is plenty.

And I think... I've written enough. Time to rest :-)