Monkey Brains and Self Compliments
There were 18 women in yoga yesterday. The month long, twice a week class is for beginners, and people like me who like a little instruction in a gentle environment. As the teacher Nancy says, yoga is all about listening-- to your body, your heart, and especially stilling that yammering voice in your "monkey brain" -- you know the one, that jabbers all day long about what you should have done and shouldn't have done and that you better get that thesis finished or you'll never earn that MFA, and who needs it anyway? What good is a masters degree in creative writing?-- Actually, maybe that's just me right now, as all my coursework ( a novel, thesis and annotated bibliography 70 books long) is due April 1st and I'm a little cuckoo from typing and proof-reading. ( I'm lousy at both.) Anyway, there is a point to this. The yoga class was filled with women who have all kinds of stuff rattling around in their brains and bodies-- Stuff that's way more important than my self-inflicted trauma-- one is about eight months pregnant with her first child, another is recovering from cancer treatments, there is a home-schooled teenager, and several grandmothers-- Oh, there is one guy too, a cheerful pony-tailed young fisherman with arthritis. All this is to say, that just breathing and bending with such people, all of goodwill, all working hard to let the woes of winter go, is kind of like church, but quieter. It restored my soul. When I told my husband at dinner that before class ended, and we did the final stretches, Nancy said, "Give yourself a little hug, and go ahead and kiss your knees," he laughed. (In a nice way. He is glad I go to yoga. It makes me calmer.) But before you laugh-- let me assure you that this is not as whacky as it sounds. I read an article in the New York Times (it must be true) last week that said self-compliments (a la Jack Handy, "I'm darn good") actually reduce stress and make your heart healthier. So go ahead, hug those knees. Breathe. Quiet that monkey brain. Exhale with an "oome" and do the work you need to do, and then congratulate yourself on a job well done. (Hey, if you don't, who will?) Today you are also in luck, because even God says you should eat a fat sugary treat. It's the last chance until Easter. So go ahead, have a doughnut, you're worth it. Christian tradition dictates that a Fat Tuesday doughnut or pile of pancakes with bacon will bring good luck all year. Besides, you'll have all of Lent to work it off in yoga class and walking in the sunshine of these lengthening days.