On guard

Earlier in life, I struggled mightily with migraine headaches.  Overwhelming and sometimes debilitating.  I’ve been incredibly thankful that they have become manageable and few and far between in recent years.

Lately, though, I’ve had more headaches.  My initial guess is blood pressure.  I’ve put some pounds back on and I know that takes its toll.  I’ve also had a lot of life changes to navigate, which sends my mind reeling at times.  And let’s be honest:  I’m 47.  My hormones are doing their own thing.  Any of those things could lead to some headaches.

In yoga the other day, I noticed that it took me a while to unwind.

Let me restate that:  In yoga the other day, I got about halfway through our savasana before I even began to unwind so in stead of lying still and enjoying the yummy relaxation, my monkey brain was still saying, “relax, relax, relax. breathe. in. out. in. out. breathe.”

Not quite the zen experience I was hoping for.

Yesterday during my body check, I asked myself to look past the easy thought that my body just felt “regular.” I wasn’t hurting anywhere, but how did it feel?  Tense? Well, yes.  Almost always in my neck and shoulders, but my homework was to focus on what was going on below my neck and shoulders.  So I pondered this: How does my body feel? Not my head with its dull ache or my shoulders and neck with their characteristic tightness, but how does the rest of me feel?

The answer?  On guard.  Not the same as strong and ready for whatever comes, but on guard and coiled as if anticipating something harmful to happen.  As if years of living on adrenaline created a habit and posture that’s difficult to undo, but that isn’t who I want to be.  I want to be open Lisa. Soft Lisa. Strong and ready? Yes. Guarded and coiled? No.

One yoga class I attended a few years ago would often use the term “Open your heart” to encourage us to pull our shoulders back.  Isn’t that a beautiful, positive way to to describe that?  Open your heart.  Soften your heart.  Your body will follow when your heart is open.

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