quiet your thinking brain…

If you’ve been in a yoga class, you might have heard some version of “quiet your thinking brain.”

Eliminate the monkey chatter.

Clear your head of thoughts.

Let go of anything not serving you.

Yeah, right… these prompts led me to ponder my grocery list or otherwise mentally fidget, wondering how much longer we’d have to recline (or worse—sit) in stillness before we could actually “do” yoga (i.e. move the body). Then in yoga teacher training, one of our assignments was daily meditation. Most days, I practiced the minimum recommended amount of five minutes. For six months I made time every day but never achieved stillness of mind, never felt the nirvana others raved about. Meditating was a chore, and after I graduated with my 200-hour certification, I stopped.

Last April, my sister was visiting and told me about her daily meditation practice and how it helped her cope with anxiety, emotions and stress. She recommend I download the app Insight Timer and while I’d once downloaded Headspace to no avail, I gave it a try. Skeptical and open at the same time, I started off easy, listening to a few guided meditations, recordings where people with soothing voices (British accents reel me in) taught me seven ways to welcome the new day or to visualize abundance pouring into my open head. Gradually, I traded these vocal guides for a timer.

Now I serve as my own guide.

To inspire a vibrant practice, I set up a meditation space in my office/yoga room, complete with candles and other personal items for inspiration. But just as often I greet (and/or close) the day from the comfort of my own bed. I might sit in front of the window if the sun or moonlight is shining in. When negative energy overcomes me, I try to take a time out. I’m not always able to redirect my thoughts, but at least the practice of conscious breathing and breaking from device-land soothes and grounds.

It isn’t always easy, but today marks 365 days in a row of meditating.

I get it, meditating isn’t for everybody. But honestly, I didn’t think it was for me, and now it’s such a part of my morning routine, I’d no sooner forget to meditate than to brush my teeth. On days I don’t do either, hell has really broken loose.

I don’t have time, I hear people say. But if you have time to scan social media feeds, you have time to put your phone down, close your eyes, and focus on the rise and fall of your breath. If you have time to read this post, you have time to sit in stillness. Who cares if you spend those initial minutes trying to remember what you forgot to buy at Target? Taking quiet time for yourself each day is the least you deserve.

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Burn, baby, burn

I keep my house a cool 65 degrees in the winter. Friends and family know to dress in layers when they come over. Echoes of Jimmy Carter’s “put on a sweater” come from my mouth when the kids complain; we’re all fans of flannel pajamas.

During cooler seasons, on my bed I keep two comforters, one down and one heavy as an x-ray vest. In addition to cozy pajamas, November to March is made for flannel sheets. Oh, and the two cats sleep on my bed, one near my right foot and one near the left. The more layers of warmth, the better.

But for the last two weeks, with temperatures still struggling to find spring, I have been waking up at least three times a night on figurative fire. I’d call this “night sweats” except that I don’t actually sweat; no middle of the night t-shirt change is required. The pattern goes like this: I kick one leg out from under the mass of warmth. It’s not enough to cool me down so I kick the second leg out. I flip from sleeping on my left side to the right. Then I get cold and climb back under one layer, and then another. Repeat at least three times. The cats don’t move.

During these hot flashes, my usually frosty hands and feet burn hot enough to fuel a city. Seriously, if Elon Musk could find a way to transmit and store that heat, I’m sure I could power something and at least then I wouldn’t feel so bad because nothing irritates me more than interrupted sleep.

Is this “the change” inviting itself into my life? I don’t particularly welcome change, and especially with D.C. area temperatures predicted to soar to the 80s by the end of the week. (I will not turn the AC on in April, I will not turn the AC on in April, I will not turn the AC on in April.) I can only hope “fire sleep” is a temporary condition.