The Old Guy: On the value of meditation and yoga

The Old Guy: On the value of meditation and yoga

After my leg injury, I came to value meditation and yoga even more than I already did. Meditation helped me deal with the frustration and anger that comes from trying to handle the world at large while experiencing pain and limitation. Yoga helped me to keep parts of my body that hadn’t been impacted from becoming stiff and less flexible.

I rely on YouTube for a lot of my practices and they didn’t fail to deliver. You can find a plethora of videos on either meditation or yoga and I would suggest scrolling through and finding one you like and then repeating the process so you don’t have to stay with just one, unless you like that kind of consistency. I get restless pretty quickly and want to try new things.

Rather than limiting my meditation to a prescribed period during my morning routine, I started turning to it if I felt tense or had five to 10 minutes of down time, rather than scrolling through endless YouTube videos of “10 Things You Didn’t Know About The Making Of Superman 3″ and “Herb Welch” skits. One day, I forgot to meditate and by mid-afternoon, I was cursing out people in traffic. Well, I usually do that anyway because people drive like absolute lunatics, but, that day, I was particularly vile. As soon as I got home, I dialed up a 10 minute meditation music video and let it wash over me. The great thing about meditation is, you don’t think, you just listen and feel. It helps to wash the day clean and start all over again. Like any good practice, it must be repeated daily to have maximum effect.

With yoga, it’s more prescriptive. I found out, as many of you probably already know, that any injury to any part of the body impacts the whole body. Though my particular injury was limited to my right leg, my left and right arms were impacted from leaning on a cane when I walked or using them to butt scootch up or down stairs. I had to somehow increase my arm strength to continue doing that.

Chair yoga was a perfect alternative. To my surprise, the woman whose yoga videos I usually watch also does chair yoga. Her familiar voice and movements gave me an easy in to this particular version of yoga which, under normal circumstances, I would have found limited.

I also changed my mind about shower seats. Prior to this, we had only used them when Joan was dealing with a temporary leg-related issue. Now, I was the one in the chair and, let me tell you, it took some adjustment. First of all, I had to pre-prep my shampoo and soap placement, as well as the bath mat and chair, pull the curtain shut and regulate the water temperature. Then, there was that first time I turned on the tap to “shower” and got hit full in the face with a burst of water. I screamed like a 10-year-old being dunked into the deep end of the pool. After somewhat regaining my composure, I began to wash and found that sitting down made it easier, except for my back, which I very tentatively stood up to wash. Then, I had to turn off the faucet, pull the curtain, step out, replace the mat and chair. By the end of the shower, I was exhausted. Still, the job got done and now I could face the world smelling a lot fresher and feeling a bit more human.

Healing, it seems, requires great patience, something I do not possess in abundance. Well, I do have patience for some things, like learning a new song or teaching kids. But, when it comes to my own progress, none. I am of the “You idiot…you ought to know this by now!” club, which, I know, is a terrible position to take if you’re trying to learn or develop a new skill. So, yes, learning to be patient was quite difficult for me. But then, I learned to consider it part of the healing process and that, if I wanted to heal fully and correctly, I would also have to learn how to bear this particular burden gracefully. And, for the most part, I did.

As I got closer to my “release” date, I got antsier. I wanted to break out and sing “Boot Free” at the top of my lungs, but I resisted the urge to do so, mostly for everybody else’s sake.

I got down/upgraded to the ankle brace rather than the boot when I could tolerate it. Reliance on the boot, it seems, can sometimes have the reverse effect. I tried that for a time. It seemed to work. Sometimes I still experienced pain, but my feeling was my doctor was suggesting that I work through it rather than rely on the boot or pain cream to ease it. Aging, as the saying goes, is not for…eh…well, this is a family column, so fill in the descriptive term of your choice. It demands much of you. Patience, strength, fortitude, wisdom, humor, compassion, empathy and foresight, to name just a few of the qualities. My mother-in-law possesses all of them and she’s 100.

My friend Rosemarie Curcio posted “The Twelve Commandments For Seniors.” Among my favorites were:

“You don’t need anger management. You need people to stop p***ing you off.”

“Your people skills are just fine. It’s your tolerance for idiots that needs work.”

“Age has slowed you down, but it hasn’t shut you up.”

And, it shouldn’t. Elder folks need to be heard precisely because of the wisdom they’ve accrued through years of living, much of those years extremely difficult. My parents’ generation lived through the Depression and World War II. As a result, they were cautious about money and many were extremely anti-war.

I’m urging all of you who read this column to take the very best care of yourself. It doesn’t mean you are selfish. Self care means you know how to keep yourself in the very best shape you can by avoiding things that drain you, restoring your energy when it runs low and developing those skills that keep you at peace and thinking clearly.

So, have a massage, talk to a therapist, take a nice, long walk near the beach, read an interesting novel, go see that popular movie, binge watch a popular TV show. And enjoy life.

Hold those magnificent grey heads high!

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