Sunday, January 29, 2012

The breath is the fire

The breath is the fire

As an adult I have grown out of most of the once-overt symptoms of my ADHD, just as my teen-years specialist predicted I would. I stopped taking Concerta when we started trying to conceive Nico and very luckily never needed to resume treatment. One thing I still have, something I definitely view as an asset, is an immense capacity for multitasking. At home and especially at work, I can bounce easily from project to project, holding several threads at all times. When I'm at my best it's exhilarating, and I skate along the knife's edge gleefully juggling chainsaws and machetes and live chickens. Even at rest, my brain kind of whirs along. It has always amazed me that I can ask MB as we're going to sleep, "What are you thinking about?" and he can honestly answer, "Nothing." I'm never not thinking about something, or several somethings, and it's always been this way.

I remember once when I was about eight years old, my dad set up our tent in the backyard and we had a practice camp-out. With the excitement of the adventure, I couldn't sleep. I told my dad I didn't know how to fall asleep and he advised me to just lie still and not think about anything. It was a mystifying concept. Not think of anything? I'd never done it. I tried and tried and can still recall one perfect moment of utter blankness, which startled me so much that I immediately started thinking about it. The closest I can usually get to not thinking is to think "Don't think! Stop thinking!" which is about as relaxing as you'd imagine.

Other than when I'm asleep - when I'm usually busy having vivid action-movie-style dreams - my best bet for finding moments of quiet and inner peace is to go to yoga class. I've been practicing yoga off and on since college, and I keep going back to it. Part of it is that my body just seems to really like yoga - I'm strong and flexible in the ways that work for yoga, and I like the calm of it. I did a weekly yoga class during my entire pregnancy with Nico and it was often a challenge to focus and not sit in a pose going over my grocery list or what we still needed to do for the baby's room. I went back for six months or so after Nico was born, but ended up dropping yoga in favor of cardio boot camp in the interest of getting the most bang for my once-a-week gym visit buck.

And then, almost exactly a year ago, a new-ish power yoga studio about three minutes from my house had a week of free classes and I went to one. It was my first real experience with Ashtanga yoga and it was one of those cliche-inspiring big-life-moment things, literally the best yoga class I'd ever been to in my life. I worked my ass off and sweated buckets and my body detoxed so hard that I felt like I had a hangover the next morning (to the point of waking up craving a breakfast egg biscuit and sucking down Advil and water all day). I felt awful and it was awesome. I went back two nights later and did it again. This yoga, it's work. I'm so busy just keeping up and keeping track of what we're doing that I don't think about anything for an hour and fifteen minutes, nothing but the breath and the flow and probably how bad my quads hurt. I love the practice and I love the people just as much. There are a few skinny girls with tiny boobs and pert yoga butts, but there are also girls my age with post-baby bellies and middle-aged men with soft middles. The owner and main instructor is one of the most kind and cheerful people I've met, but never in an annoying way. There's not a lot of chit-chat before class, but there's something great about fighting through some never-ending Warrior series and having the entire class let out a burst of relieved laughter along with you when the instructor finally says, "And…down to high plank."

One of my New Year's resolutions is to make it to Saturday yoga classes as often as possible now that I don't have to work every weekend. I went yesterday for the intermediate / advanced class and had my ass handed to me by a tiny, intense guest instructor. At the beginning she asked us to set an intention for our practice and I picked "peace," hoping I'd be able to let the hamster off the wheel and just be present in the moment. Then I was too busy sweating and trying to keep up with her to think about anything else. The thinking fired up again at the end, as I lay in corpse pose failing to be quietly at rest. And then, as if she could see me thinking, the instructor leaned over and adjusted my shoulders, repositioned my head, massaged my temples, and tapped me lightly in between the eyes with her finger before gliding off to fix someone else. We're all a work in progress, it seems.

Reading:  I'm With the Bears: Short Stories from a Damaged Planet

Playing:  a mix I made for a friend years ago

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