Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Finding the Way

I had a great experience yesterday; I was feeling upset about a conversation I’d had with someone; and I started to have my old knee-jerk response to being upset: I immediately began to think about eating, I started looking in the cupboards, though I’d just eaten, and I wasn’t hungry. Worse, my mind started to go toward foods on-hand that weren’t in my diet plan. Suddenly, I wasn’t caring that they weren’t in my plan. All I wanted was to get something to eat, and then sit in front of the TV.
Now TV can be a wonderful, perfectly acceptable form of relaxation for some, I am sure, but I am realizing that it’s a resource I need to use with great care, because flopping down in front of it, exhausted, wanted nothing but to zone-out, almost always goes hand-in-hand with overeating. So this was a red flag, thank goodness, and somehow I managed to gather my strength and instead, I turned off the TV, and headed upstairs to my meditation space.
Luckily, I’d just been reading in Yoga Journal magazine about restorative asanas (poses). To the untrained eye, these asanas may seem very passive, and therefore unproductive, but yoga therapist Bo Forbes (“Beat the Blues”, February issue) explained our nervous systems are designed to respond to subtle changes in the environment, and when these poses are combined with deep yoga breathing, they become a “potent tool to recalibrate the nervous system.” The article was discussing the use of these asanas as a tool to combat SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) in particular, but seeing as depression is part of that symptom presentation, I knew it would benefit my emotional state as well.
So I lit a candle, put on some quiet music, propped my arms, head and legs with pillows, and settled down into Savasana (Supported Corpse Pose). I did slow, gentle, deep breathing, and within ten minutes I felt completely calm. A few minutes more, and I began to see why I had been upset, but it no longer upset me. My initial response had been to stuff the feelings; I usually avoid letting my anger come to the surface, for some reason, it’s very scary for me, and my instantaneous response is to try to hide it – even from myself. Buying that “peace” must come at a high cost, though, for in order for me to pull it off, it must be fueled with lots of food.
I stayed in the pose for 40 minutes, and when I got up, I felt like a different person: no more anger, fear, cravings or agitation, just calm. Then I topped off my self-nurturing with a mini home spa, a candlelit, and scented-bath. I then went to eat my dinner, and yes, watch some TV, but I was careful to watch a station where I knew there would be no commercials, as well a show that didn’t have that rapid fire editing that is becoming so universal in TV programming, for I know it is agitating to a quiet mind, and I didn’t want to un-do the wonderful good I had done.
I felt so proud of myself that I was able to short-circuit a behavior response that I’ve had all my life. For some reason, that time of day (5:00 to 9:00 pm) is usually my most difficult time. Earlier in the day, I always seem to have stronger resolve: I stay on track easier, I rarely have temptations, but that ‘witching hour’ is really tough and I stood up to it, (or, should I say lay down?) and won!

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