Smile & Go Slow

I wanted the smile lines at the corners of my eyes to show in this photo. I like my smile lines. It means I’ve been happy a lot in this life. Wrinkles don’t bother me. I feel lucky to have come this far. It’s interesting to be older. I’m not saying it’s all roses. But I’ve developed a theory over the last six months, which, apart from the births of my babies, have been the happiest of my life. Every decade gets better.

I’m working on the inside these days. My head used to be a mess. Meditation took care of that. Now the body has rebelled after years of mindless abuse. So I’ve added walking to the yoga and am taking it slow. The first day I used the treadmill in my new house, I had to hang something over the too-bright winter white outside my window. (We still have not gotten around to fixing up the basement.)

I hung a pretty saffron colored scarf my yoga teacher brought back from India. It lets in light and shows the black patterns. Perfect. But before it was hung for real, I tried thumbtacks (no way) and hammer and nails (wrong chair) overreached and fell from the tall chair into the low one. Was fine. I walked the treadmill, listening to music. Closed my eyes when I felt like it.

The next day my middle had some bruising. It didn’t hurt and I’m not going to be wearing a bikini again in this life, so I shrugged it off and moved on. But those bruises are trying to get my attention. They say I need to connect with my movements, grow more aware of my surroundings and actions. Can’t just spin a dozen plates anymore and hope one doesn’t crash.

Slow down. Savor. For an Aries, this is a huge order. We’re an impatient bunch. But it’s important enough that Mars (my planet) itself is slowing down for a bit. And that kind of forces me to slow down, as well. Which is a good thing.

Chakra Love

What does the practice of yoga have to do with writing? Not a thing for some people, but for me, it’s vital. Writing is a sedentary practice, and yoga gets me moving, wakes up a body that far too often is stuck in my story-making mind. But there’s more to it than that. In fact, yoga just might have saved my life.

For a few years I had a medically irreversible pre-cancer condition called Barrett’s Esophagus. As a student of yoga, I associate the esophagus with the throat chakra, one of the seven energy centers of the body. Esoterically, when the throat chakra is damaged, it indicates that the voice has been silenced in some way. For a writer, that’s a death metaphor. So of course I did everything my doctors told me AND worked with yoga and chakra clearing to heal myself.

The biggest change the specialist recommended was in my diet. No more coffee or chocolate. No tomatoes or wine. Diet is important in yoga, too. I had noticed in the past that when I ate a steak or drank more than a glass of wine the night before yoga practice, I’d have a hard time in class. I’d get nauseated and dizzy. My teacher always asked about my diet before showing me how to sit out the session in a pose designed to calm the digestive system.

With all of this in mind, a year ago I quit eating meat. It wasn’t difficult. I’d read a book about the meat industry in our country and it totally turned me off. Plus, I was supposed to be eating smaller meals, so I figured taking out the meat would do that. My husband is a healthy eater, and he was all for cutting out the meat, which made things so much easier.

I continued to work with my inner body, envisioning my throat chakra and thus esophagus as bright golden, like a little burst of sunshine. A few months ago, a sentence floated into my head. As a writer, that’s not unusual. But this sentence was “My throat is fine; I don’t have Barrett’s.” I am not the kind of person who expects miracles, but I believed it.

And sure enough, when I went for my scan this year, the test came back clear. I reminded the nurse that everyone from the specialist to my family doctor told me the condition was irreversible.

“It’s rare,” she said about my spontaneous healing, “but in a very tiny number of cases, it happens.” She of course attributed my perfect esophagus to the Prilosec I take every morning. Me, I know it’s down to yoga.