I haven’t spoken about my meditation or yoga practices in a long time. Haven’t been the most diligent writer either. Most of this is due to a heavy research phase, and reading the books of people I admire has been a great joy this year. What has been learned is nothing short of life changing. But a great research period should change you. Otherwise, you might be doing the wrong type of research. Still, this doesn’t excuse the lack of communication with my Gentle Readers, and for that I apologize. With that, it might be time to spend the next several posts on what makes this blog interesting, the meditating-atheist yoga-greenhorn.
Yes, I still consider myself a newbie at the yoga thing. Physical therapy had been started by this time a year ago, but I had yet to find the spiritual mechanism’s usefulness in my brain, as up until that point, my mind had only been capable of using those mechanisms to torture myself. The discipline meditation and yoga would offer me wouldn’t come until well into August, and here I must be honest, it wouldn’t be until deep into the fall that the reconditioning of my left temporal lobe would begin. To that end, I have seen much change, or perhaps a better word would be adaptation.
Through all the success and failures, my brain has been able to shed many of its old cycles in favor of newly conditioned methods. This has had many costs. Intense periods of regret and sadness, too many cigarettes when I had hoped for none (in my defense, there have been very few), breakdowns in dietary habits, and a few short-tempered moments with my family. I suppose these are the costs of changing oneself. I have had to let go of very few relationships really, and that has been nice. Some people have to clear out entirely to see the change they desire. Not been the case this time. A couple situations with redefined boundaries have left some scars. I am okay with scars. I would say that through this period though that the strengthening of relationships hasn’t been my game either. Oh sure, a few benefit from the death of the old, but memetic law predicts that—niche must be filled unless the environment be truly barren.
I would also say this has been the most internal year of my life.
This has been the first year of truly facing myself in the ten thousand mirrors.
What is being reflected is so beautiful, and crushes all the negativity processed out over the last almost-year. Meditation gave me the ability to listen to my body in ways I hadn’t been able, and yoga brings to my life a physical challenge and path to Flow brain states which remind me of learning to play music. An extremely elevated complement coming from me. A bio-conscious feedback loop of that magnitude has made me craven. When I started doing wall-assisted headstands (sirsasana) a few weeks ago, I was overcome with joy. Never in my life life had I felt so unchained by my physicality. Within the same time frame, I started to execute true Crow Pose (bakasana), with knees on the back of my arms. Imagine the elation. It has taken 25 years. Twenty-five long and deeply frustrating years to overcome the damage of being an incredibly overweight, broken, religious kid. My knees began to give out at 13 years old under all the strain, and I felt so sad and alone that God would make me like he did. Fat, broken, sinful, undesirable. And he wanted that for me. That would be the temporal lobe-limbic system loop for two and a half decades. I have been fighting back for years, to no avail, until now.
Now I claim this battle field. I shed the dogmatic poison of religious superstition for good (I go into more detail about this functions in the next installment of “The Story of An Arkansas Atheist”). Some of the physical issues are here for life, but minute-long planks, Crow Pose, and headstands are testimony, before anyone even looks scale reading or size reduction, that my body has changed over the last year dramatically. I still get sad and lonely too often for comfort, yet I imagine much of that will change with continued life enhancing conditioning.
I promise to keep listening to my body, so that it will be in tune with my mind, and thus, keep bringing these words to your screens. *giggle*
Headstand Image: mindfulnessmama.com
Photo: Hilary Brady Morris