Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Day Twenty Two

Rule 22
“Life is a temporary loan and this world is nothing but a sketchy imitation of Reality. Only children would mistake a toy for the real thing. And yet human beings either become infatuated with the toy or disrespectfully break it and throw it aside. In this life stay away from all kinds of extremities, for they will destroy your inner balance. Sufis do not go to extremes. A Sufi always remains mild and moderate.”

[I wanted to make an addendum to yesterday's rules before moving on. Poppy used to always say she didn't like the word "tolerate" because it sounds like you're putting up with something unpleasant. Instead of "tolerating" differences, we should embrace, accept and celebrate them. I felt this was an important distinction to make.]

Someone call a doctor, I'm sure there's something wrong. I realized today that... I like to exercise.

This is huge. HUGE.  See, I am a "gymophobe". For over three decades I have carefully avoided gyms and exercise classes. I recently started yoga for the first time to try and counter some health issues. I like dance classes, swimming and riding bikes, but I don't do these things regularly and have never done them as "exercise".

Rewind to two months ago, when I first started. While doing the relaxation / meditation part (read: nap time), my teacher said, "Thoughts will come into your head. Recognize them, and then let them roll past." For the rest of that time, I saw beautiful glazed cinnamon rolls rolling gently past me. Ah, it was a happy nap time, that was. 

Fast forward to today, when I was having the kind of morning that would have driven anyone half mad, drinking my morning coffee in the car (oh, the travesty! That first cup is my calm morning ritual...!) but what kept me going with sharp focus was that if I get through it with German efficiency, I can make it to class by 10:30. 10:31am I practically rolled in on my flying mat and parked in class. I squeezed, stretched and breathed out all the morning's stress and madness in class. The teacher now makes me do more challenging variations because I am ready. Who'd'a thunk it? 

I never, ever thought I would be the person who looks forward to exercising. I just hope I can remain consistent, which is why I am doing it moderately. I don't want to burn out and then drop it, which I tend to do in life. What I do know is that I wouldn't have started this journey had it not been for that epiphany in yoga class, and I would not be able to stick to it without it, either. When I'm feeling worn out, I know exercising will help me find some balance again. Two months in, I do feel those long-held blockages loosening up. I still have a very hard time clearing my mind in class, but now I do try and just look at whatever comes up and then swipe it away. It's a shame that by the time I'm done with the school run, I've encountered more dimwits on the road than my brain can handle and my zen turns into bhain...!

Today's rule is all about moderation. To live a balanced and moderate lifestyle, you need to move. Our bodies were not made to be stationary. I realized this while watching one of those impossibly beautiful dance pieces on "So You Think You Can Dance". If a human body can do that, if we were made to be able to do that, then we are surely meant to. We are meant to swim in the sea and let the salt water heal our skin, let the sun strengthen our bones. Nowadays we talk about work-life balance. A balanced diet. All these are pushing us towards moderation, to move away from extremes. Yes, even in faith. Extremes are the root cause of most problems. 

Whether you are trying to quit smoking, lose weight, lower cholesterol, fight illness, or just look better, start exercising if you don't already. You hear it over and over, but this time you're hearing it from the world's worst "gymophobe". You will thank yourself for it, and you can thank me later... preferably in the form of a cinnamon roll.