I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Searching for serenity

Yoga teacher's props bathed in sunlight
It's one of those Sundays that came around quickly, after days and days of delightful sunshine and being outdoors enjoying the burgeoning signs of spring. There's nothing that raises my spirits as much as watching the changes occurring all around me, as dreary winter turns to cheerful spring.

I've just signed up for another round of yoga classes, this time taking two a week instead of just one. The studio signs you up for semesters, either 10 or 12 weeks at a time, changing with the seasons. I have two more classes in the current semester and then there's a week of free classes for people to try out other instructors or levels. I'll stick to my current ones but I might try the next level up during free week. It's a wonderful studio and I love what yoga has given me.

Iyengar Yoga allows the use of props, such as blocks and bolsters, as well as folding chairs and the wall for certain poses, and I'm able to try the harder ones using them. I will never be able to move up very far in level, given not only my advanced age, but also because I don't have a home practice, not yet anyway. I'm moving in that direction, and I realized not long ago that I might one day reach a place where I feel confident enough in the poses that I don't need a teacher to correct me. That's where I seem to be headed.

At the beginning of class, we have a short lesson about yoga, and I've learned about the koshas, or the Five Layers of Self. In my mind, can hear my teacher talking about annamaya kosha, or the outer layer, the physical self.
Derived from Sanskrit, kosha means "sheath" or "covering." As such, the koshas are often called the five sheathes. The annamaya kosha is the sheath of the physical. The yogi who understands herself within this kosha would define herself as a physical body: blood, flesh, bones, fat, and eating and drinking to sustain the body.
This is but the first of the koshas, and one can learn through practice to understand life in a larger sense. Although the annamaya kosha is the first and most basic layer of one's self, discovering each kosha is believed to bring the individual closer to oneness with the universe. I'm learning to appreciate this kosha as I try to remain my equanimity in the chaotic world around me.

My habit in the morning is to rise early and make myself a cup of tea and bring it back into bed while I sit propped up with pillows and turn on a low light, opening up my laptop. My partner is now very accustomed to the sound of the tapping of keys as I write and doesn't even stir if he's particularly tired. We are the essence of opposites: he comes to bed late most nights, and I rarely even hear him come in as I'm already fast asleep. When I get up, I spend about an hour reading the news, emails, and what's going on in the life of my blogging friends. If I have time to spare, I'll even check Facebook, but as you know, that can be a real time sink, so I usually wait until later in the day to go there.

On Sunday mornings, like today, I spend a little longer propped up in bed, because I write this post as a meditation, usually not knowing what will come out of my fingers. The night before, as I lay in bed waiting for sleep to take me, I think about what I might write. Casting about for what's on my mind, it will usually become evident that something particular is wanting to emerge. Not always, though: sometimes I don't have much of anything in mind when I sit down to write. Or sometimes, I realize I have some resistance to examining what's bothering me. In any event, knowing that my Sunday morning will begin with this practice helps with my attempts at self-discovery.

Now that my eyes seem to have settled down after enduring cataract surgery, and finally having some progressive lenses that allow me to see with clarity in the distance, I'm feeling very happy about being in a holding pattern with the macular degeneration. I'm sitting here with the laptop without wearing any glasses at all, since I can see close without them, and that's a big change from before. I had to wear my glasses all the time, for close or far, and even then my vision left much to be desired. I'm very happy that I have been given the opportunity to have so much better vision.

When I first get out of bed, usually I cannot quite take full steps as I test the state of my ankles, which almost always hurt. As I begin to move around as I make my tea, they begin to loosen up a little (usually) and by the time I'm actually up and ready to start my day, I'm moving normally. I do sometimes hear the internal conversation I carry on with myself: this is what old ladies do, they toddle around and this is where I'm headed. But then I am able to walk again and realize that I'm not there yet.

This week I'll have my annual wellness visit with my doctor. I've only seen her once before, as my previous doctor has moved on, but I look forward to the visit with her. I like having a female doctor, especially a young one, and she seems very knowledgeable. I will have my blood drawn early tomorrow morning so we can discuss the results. I like the fact that I'll be able to see the results myself the day after it's drawn. I've been doing this now annually since I moved here ten years ago, and I really like the system. I can also compare the results with previous years in a graph. The only number that changes much has been my cholesterol and triglyceride numbers, and they have been getting better as the years pass. I'm hoping this year will be the same.

I will also ask her if she knows when I might be able to receive the new shingles vaccine that has been developed. That's one illness I hope to avoid: shingles is no fun and as we age we are at increased risk for it. I've already received the earlier vaccine, but this one is apparently much more effective. It doesn't sound like much fun to take, as the side effects can be uncomfortable in many patients, but if you have ever seen what shingles can do, it's worth it.

And here I am already, it's 6:30am and I've finished my Sunday post along with my tea. I just took the last swig, and this is where I find a few minutes to extend my consciousness out into the ether and see if I can connect with you, my dear reader. I wish it were possible for me to open up a two-way avenue and reach into your world and give you a hug, but I can't. So it's going to have to be a virtual one, from my annamaya kosha to yours. Please, be well until we meet again next week.


Linda Reeder said...

The sky is gray this morning. My body is resisting motion, tired from all of the walking and stretching exercises and yard work. But I'll still walk and stretch again today. Movement is essential in order to continue to be able to move. As I walk my body will loosen up and fall into a rhythm, usually.
I can relate to much of what you say. I don't see myself as doing yoga, however. I failed at tai chi, that is, I quit, because the movements are too subtle and the spiritual aspect meant nothing to me. I am a "get in and get her done" sort of person, raised that way back on the farm.
We have spent many hours working in the yard already as winter winds down. I am up close and personal with emerging spring. I makes me excited for life, even if the sky is gray.

Rian said...

DJan, I agree that Yoga is a great experience... not only physically, but in other ways as well. I took it for years, but haven't in a very long time (we do a little stretching yoga at the end of our aerobic class). I should get back to it, but you know - I do find it hard to fit in all the things I'd like to do.

And I'm so happy that everything with your eye surgery came out well. I too use progressive lens (which I needed for far vision after my cataract surgery). But I opted to not get the transitional this time as I really need more protection than the transitional (which I used for years) provide. I use the dark glasses that go over your regular ones and protect even the sides from the glare of the sun (since this can be a trigger for my migraines).

And even though we go to bed around 10 each night, I'm plagued by the occasional 3 o'clock wake up. Usually I end up going to make myself a cup of tea, talking to the cats for a few minutes, and then back to bed. Most of the times this little diversion will end with me falling back asleep until 7 or 8.

Have a great week! Virtual hug!

Marie Smith said...

Your yoga practice sounds wonderful, Jan. Yoga, the gym and the walking keep you fit! Good luck with the Doctor. Have a great week.

Far Side of Fifty said...

Happy Sunday! I hope you have good results from the Doctors appt this week. I am just thrilled that you can see so well!!! Isn't vision wonderful!!
I hope you will let us all know about the new shingles vaccine...I have not heard of it. We both got the one that was available a few years ago...shingles is awful so neither of us want to get it.
Sending you a hug today! :)

Arkansas Patti said...

Delighted that your eyes have settled after the surgery and you have such good vision. Also a bit envious of your yoga opportunities. We just don't have it offered here.
Good luck with your tests. Sounds like you have access to your patient portal. I love that service.
Didn't know there was a new vaccine. I've done shingles and if you can dodge it, do it.
Keep enjoying Spring.

Arkansas Patti said...

PS. Thanks so much for stopping by with warm wishes and hugs. Both recieved and they helped.

Elephant's Child said...

How I love reading the way that you continue to stretch your mind and your body. And that your eyes are much, much better.
I hope your coming week is full of sunshine and flowers - literally and metaphorically.

Red said...

I like the idea of getting tests done before the visit of the annual checkup. I like a good chat about the meaning of the tests. My doctor always says the test numbers are only approximate + or- something. Yes i'm creaky in the morning but before breakfast I'm ready to go.

Trish MacGregor said...

Sounds like your eyes have healed completely! Yay!

Tabor said...

While I am big on preventative medicine, I am going to avoid that shingles vaccine and role the die. Wish me well. Aging is not for the weak or those who think they will be youg and limber forever. I should buy a yoga vidoe or at least dig out some of my old ones

Sally Wessely said...

I love knowing that you have established your rhythms, and that you follow them. Yoga is a wonderful thing for many, and there are times when I have liked it, but I generally enjoy Pilates more. The problem is that I have done neither for too long. I am slowly getting more movement back into my life. Oh those ankles. I am usually ok when I get out of bed, but it is when I get out of a car after riding for any length of time when I feel like an old woman. Sometimes, I just have to move my feet around and get all the joints lined up in place before I step out.

Aging. Isn’t fun? I like it better than the alternative. Aging. It looks great on you.

John's Island said...

Hi DJan, Among the blogs I follow yours is unique. First of all, I love the way you talk so openly and candidly about life. Just telling us about the yoga is pretty neat. I think I’ve mentioned before that I haven’t tried it, but I’m really considering giving it a try. There are some places down here in my neighborhood that are offering sessions for seniors who want to get started. Then, secondly, have you ever noticed how so many of your followers leave really thoughtful comments? I mean, most blogs get comments like nice photo, interesting stuff, etc. but most folks don’t really take the time to leave a thoughtful comment. I think you DO get them because your posts are so thoughtful and so well written. So, I thank you for sharing, and for your kind words that you leave for me. I really appreciate that! Wishing you a fine week ahead! John

Linda Myers said...

I have followed your Sunday thoughts for a bunch of years now! I like how you have established routines in your life that satisfy you.

Mage said...

My body is much like yours. I waddle slowly until my hips, spine, and ankles work again. :) I ended up tearing a tendon in yoga, so I practice Tai Chi Chi Gong when I can. While you are reading your laptop, I am reading a mystery. Then I come into the office and do some volunteer work on Facebook, write something with a picture in my blog, and go walk or quilt. It took me forever to figure out you wrote just on Sunday's....silly me.